As dog parents, you may have seen your pet display various weird behaviors. Their behavior can sometimes leave you amused or baffled. And when you do not understand why the dog is behaving this way, it becomes challenging to understand whether you should let the behavior continue or not.
Your dog licking other dogs’ mouths can be one such weird behavior. Now, dogs tend to lick themselves, you, and everything else around them. The repetitive action of licking is soothing for your pets.
Licking is normal, but if your dog is suddenly obsessed with licking behavior, it may be time for you to interrupt.
Why do dogs lick other dogs nmouths? This behavior sounds like seemingly for innocent reasons. If the other dog growls or gets aggressive, it’s time to pull your dog back.
The article will examine possible reasons your dog licks other dogs’ mouths if you should be worried and how you can stop the behavior.
Why Do Dogs Lick Everything?
Licking is a normal behavior in the canine world, and often dogs show their affection to their human parents by licking. Even dogs mothers clean and groom their puppies by licking them.
Dogs may lick furniture and house decor items because they are curious. They may lick the floor and carpet because you may have dropped food crumbs over them.
They may lick themselves or inanimate objects if they have nothing better to do. The repetitive action also helps them relax when they are anxious or stressed.
If they are excessively licking a specific body part, the reason could be allergies or skin conditions. In such cases, you may notice additional signs like redness, inflammation, and missing hair. It would be best to visit the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Why Do Dogs Lick Other Dog’s Mouths?
When it comes to licking other dogs, the reasons are behavioral rather than medical.
Let us explore possible reasons why your dog goes around licking other dogs’ mouths.
1. It is an Extension of Pack Behavior
Licking is one of the modes of communication used by pack members. The origins of dogs licking one another can be traced back to their wild ancestors. Wolves and wild dogs were pack animals.
For example, puppies would lick their mother’s mouth once she was back from the hunt. The other would then bring up the swallowed food for the puppies to eat.
Dogs would also lick the alpha member of the group, showing it their respect.
There is no need for today’s domestic dogs to behave in such a manner. But these are instinctive pack behaviors that are a part of their psyche.
Also Read:- Dog Licking Paws Remedies To Try at Home
2. It is a Behavior They Pick as Puppies
You may have seen mother dogs nuzzling and licking newborn puppies. The mothers do this because puppies are born with their eyes closed and deaf. So, the mother’s maternal instinct takes over, and she considers it her job to provide for and protect the puppies.
Most people are aware that cleaning is one of the reasons why mothers lick puppies. But the mothers also encourage the puppies to breathe and direct their attention towards the milk bar.
As mentioned above, mothers would vomit their swallowed food for the puppies to eat. They did this to wean off the offspring from the mother’s milk-based diet. It may sound gross to you, but eating such food increases the chances of the puppies’ survival.
So puppies learn the licking behavior from their mothers. Licking is an important activity that helps develop the bond between mom and pup.
As the puppies grow, licking may remain a habit. However, there is nothing to be alarmed about as long the dog is not obsessed with the behavior.
3. It is a Way of Showing Affection
Dogs show love and affection towards their beloved humans with lots of licks and hugs. For canines, licking is a way equivalent to kisses.
Some dog breeds get along very well with other dogs. For example, Basset Hounds, Poodles, English Foxhounds, and Cocker Spaniels enjoy the company of other dogs. There is limited research in the area, but studies show that dogs can form genuine friendships with other animals of their kind.
Another exciting study found that the dog’s brain releases endorphins when it licks. These are hormones that help the dog relax. So it is a calming activity for those dogs that lick or lick other dogs.
So, when dogs love and care for other dogs, they express their emotions by licking their mouths. As long as both dogs are comfortable, there is no need to separate them.
4. It Wants to Play
When your dog wants to play with another dog it has just met, it may go into a play-bow position. It may also lick the dog’s mouth to show its social actions.
The play bow position is when your dog stretches its front legs and brings its chest closer to the ground. Its backside will be up in the air.
The play-bow position is the dog’s way of saying it wants to play with another animal or human. It shows that any actions that follow after the pose and the licking are just for fun.
You know dogs can get rough if you have seen dogs playing. They try to get on each other’s back, use their paws, and bark.
If the dog tries to climb or nibble an ear of the dog, it has just met with no notice, the action will probably start a fight.
So the bow and the licks serve as an invitation to play. It says, ‘I am coming in peace, my intentions are pure, and I would like to play with you.
5. It is a form of Showing Submission
Dogs would lick the mouths of the alpha and other dominant members of their pack to show respect and submission. Such behavior was an acceptable social interaction necessary to maintain peace in the pack. This reason can be traced back to the dogs’ wild ancestors staying in packs.
Dogs do not live in packs today, but this behavior has survived through years of evolution. For example, when your dog meets a dominant canine, it may lick its mouth. It signifies that your dog does not mean any harm and will respect the other canine’s authority.
Sometimes, you may see the other canine licking your dog’s back. This behavior could mean it accepts your dog’s submission.
Do not look at submissive behavior as a bad thing. Your dog will only behave in such a manner when it respects, loves, and trusts the other party.
Should You Be Worried?
Now that we have answered the question, ‘why do dogs lick other dogs mouths,’ let us understand if the behavior is cause for worry and when you should interrupt.
As we have seen above, the reasons for licking are love, affection, an invitation to play, and submission. Dogs usually stop licking each other after a few seconds or a few minutes. As long as both dogs are comfortable and calm, there is nothing to worry about it.
You should be worried if the other dog is not enjoying the act of licking. For example, the other dog may turn its head away, growl, or even snap. There are chances of the dog getting aggressive, so it would be better to command the licking dog to stop.
In other cases, the dog that dislikes licking may step away and ignore other nearby animals. But suppose your dog continues to pursue it aggressively, even for playing. In that case, you will have to interrupt to stop a possible fight.
It is also a cause for worry when your dog keeps licking the other dog for an excessive time. Even dogs that are comfortable getting licked may not tolerate excessive licking.
Lastly, be careful your dog is not licking at another dog’s wounds. This behavior is unsafe and may increase the dogs’ chances of an infection.
When Does a Dog’s Licking Become Excessive?
As licking is a natural behavior and a form of communication used by dogs, you must understand what is expected and excessive.
The behavior is acceptable if your dog licks you or other dogs for a short period and calms down. If you find the dog licking in areas around the house where you usually eat, it could be food crumbs attracting its attention, which is acceptable.
And all dogs lick themselves for grooming purposes; again, acceptable.
Licking becomes excessive when your dog starts licking everything in its sight for long periods. It licks you, the furniture, the floor, walls, toys, and other animals. The intensity with which they lick will also increase.
Excessive licking can signify boredom, anxiety, or stress in dogs. Such behavioral issues do not develop overnight. Instead, their licking behavior will gradually worsen over time. So, it would be best to take action before licking becomes an obsession.
Excessive self-licking could also be a sign of pain, skin issues, and other health problems which may need vet care. In case of health issues, the licking may worsen sooner.
How Can You Stop the Dog’s Excessive Licking?
If your dog excessively licks another dog, you must step in and redirect its attention. For example, you could command it to ‘stop’ or ‘sit.’
First, it would be better to train the dog inside the confines of the home where it feels comfortable. The dog is more likely to understand and obey commands with no distractions. Then you can practice training the dog outside the home.
This way, it will learn to ignore distractions. And the chances of obeying you in the company of other animals will be higher.
You could also call out its name and divert its attention to a toy, treat, or yourself. Be careful when implementing this tactic, or the dog will learn licking another dog equals a treat.
For example, call the dog, and command it to sit or stay. Then, let the dog be in the same position for some time before you give it a treat. So, it knows that obeying your commands is the way to get rewards.
If the dog licks itself obsessively for behavioral reasons, you could try using an e-collar. You better visit the vet if the cause is an underlying health condition. You can seek help from professional behaviorists.
Dogs can present several strange behaviors. But more often than not, the behavior is a part of the canine language.
So, you might wonder, ‘why do dogs lick other dogs mouths? There is no sense to it.’ But it is an acceptable social interaction cue among canines.
For example, the licking could mean the dog shows love and affection to the other animal or shows submission. Or the dog wants to play. Licking is a behavior that puppies pick from their mothers, and the habit carries over well into adulthood.
If your dog is excessively licking, it could be a behavioral or medical issue. Please talk to the vet to understand what your dog needs.
Elena Gherman is a highly skilled and knowledgeable animal care expert. At the start of her career, she gained practical expertise with multiple animals. In addition to that, she works as a DVM veterinary editor for Joy Pet Products, which focuses on offering reliable information on pet health and wellbeing. She meticulously reviews each piece of writing before it is published to make sure pet owners get the most precise and updated information possible.