You know the scene. It is a sunny Sunday afternoon and it is prime time to take your doggo to the park. You’re out walking when inevitably you cross paths with another dog and its owner. You both call out to each other to say that your dog is friendly, then approach for the good old meet and greet.
Tails are wagging, tongues are lolling, and snouts are sniffing.
After this pleasant exchange, you continue on your way, and you think to yourself – why does my dog lick other dog’s ears? (or mouth, nose, butt, etc.)
Read on to find out all about why dogs lick each other in the strangest of places!
What Does It Mean When Dogs Lick Each Other?
Dogs can taste up to 1,700 different flavors, and they can detect salty, sweet, sour, and bitter tastes.
Dogs lick each other for many different reasons.
The one thing you need to remember is that it is completely normal and nothing to worry about.
Dogs lick each other as a means of communication. They do it to say hello to each other, as a sign of friendliness, and to show that they are open to play.
They may also be able to discern something about the other dog by licking – where it has been, what it last ate, if it is sick, etc.
Your dog will not only be tasting but also smelling during the licking process – and dogs have a sense of smell that is off the charts. A dog’s ability to detect and analyze smells is 40 times greater than that of a human.
Some dog behaviorists also liken the mouth of a dog to the hand of a human. Dogs use their mouths to get a sense of how their world feels (as well as how it tastes!)
My Dog Keeps Licking The Base Of Its Tail!
Now if your dog is licking the base of its tail, then there might be something going on with them, health-wise.
They may simply be cleaning the area. It if they are also scooting their bottoms along the ground then it is possible that your dog has blocked anal sacks.
Your dog has a small sac about the size of grape on either side of its anus which periodically fills up with a foul-smelling brown liquid. This is a natural process. However, once the sacs get full, it causes the dog irritation.
This is why they lick their bottoms, to try and alleviate the discomfort.
Dealing With Blocked Anal Sacs
The best thing to do if this is your dog is to take them to the vet.
The vet will put lubricant on their gloved index finger and insert it a little way into your dog’s bottom, then gently press on the sacs with their forefinger and thumb until the sacs release the liquid.
This will give your dogs a lot of relief.
If you feel brave enough to try this at home, it can be done.
Please ensure that you watch some instructional videos first! Here is a good one, made by a vet.
Why Does My Dog Lick My Other Dog’s Face?
Dogs do this in greeting, and to say, ‘Hi, I missed you, buddy!’
They may also be trying to lick up any tasty flavors leftover from your other dog’s last meal.
This type of licking, provided that it is not excessive or compulsive in nature, is harmless.
Your dogs will let each other know when enough is enough via a quick snarl or snap, intended as a warning to ‘back off’.
If your dog is excessively licking themselves, other pets, you, or household items then this is a sign that there may be something more going on.
Other Reasons Why Your Dog May Be Licking
Alexandra Horowitz, who is the Head of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, and author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, writes that “researchers of wild canids — wolves, coyotes, foxes, and other wild dogs — report that puppies lick the face and muzzle of their mother when she returns from a hunt to her den — in order to get her to regurgitate for them”.
How charming. Your hound may be licking your face because they want a meal! This makes sense given that it is you (rather than their mother or a canine pack leader) that feeds them.
If not licking due to instinct, then your dog may be experiencing anxiety, boredom, or fear when they lick compulsively.
If this might be the case, try to get your dog to refocus on something else – take them outside for a game, or something that is stimulating, and get them to focus on you and the activity, rather than the licking. Make sure that you give your dog plenty of love, attention, toys to play with, and a daily walk, to keep boredom and anxiety at bay.
They may also constantly lick themselves due to skin allergies, and they are trying to soothe their skin. Atopic dermatitis is when the dog’s immune system reacts to something in the external environment, such as dust mites, grass, and mold spores. There are several ways that this affliction can be combated. If this sounds like what may be affecting your pup, you can read more about how it is treated here.
A Summary Of Why Your Dog Licks
- If they lick other dogs, it may be a greeting;
- If they lick you, it may be a sign of love, or a primeval instinct to get you to regurgitate food for them (just as their ancestors would have done in the wild with the pack leader);
- These are both normal behavior because dogs use their mouths in the same way that humans use their hands;
- If they lick themselves, then it may be a sign that something is wrong physically or psychologically with your pet, and this needs further investigation and treatment; to that end, seek advice from your vet or a qualified dog behavior therapist.
Read more about: Why Do Pugs Lick the Air?
Family Dog Expert Author
Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.