Dogs indulge in different behavior lifelong. Some seem human-like, while a few might appear weird and strange. A dog licks because of several reasons. It does it instinctively to express itself, groom, and even bond with its human family and mates.
When your dogs show affection for you, they lick your face and hands. Now, do you have multiple dogs at home? Have you seen them licking each other? Specifically, does one dog lick the other’s private parts?
If this is the case, it may appear strange to you. Right? Before you panic, it’s essential to know that it is a normal behavior seen in dogs unless it becomes an obsession. Read on to know the reasons why dogs lick other dogs’ privates. Also, learn what you can do to stop or lessen this behavior.
Is It Normal for Dogs to Lick Other Dogs’ Privates?
It isn’t alarming when a dog licks the other dogs’ privates. Rather, it is a part of their social behavior. When your dog sees another of his mate at the dog park, he may approach and lick his private parts. That’s how he gets to know the other dog and says ‘Hello”. They are curious to know their newfound friend, and licking is the best way to do the same.
Why Does Your Dog Licks Other Dogs’ Privates? 6 Possible Answers
As humans greet each other with a handshake, your dog would know his pals by licking. What appears to you as gross and unhygienic isn’t so to your dog. There are several other reasons as well. Let’s get to know each one of them one after the other.
1. To Satisfy Their Curiosity
It’s no unknown fact that dogs are curious beings. They are always keen to explore the world around them through their smell, senses, and taste. Sniffing and licking are the two best ways dogs perceive the world.
Let’s consider this situation. You have a well-socialized dog. You take it to a dog park and notice he is getting close to another dog he sees there. He starts to know the other dog through the initial sniffing and then proceeds to lick.
If you see your dog licking the other dog’s face and paws, it wouldn’t be problematic, right? Well, there’s nothing to worry about. However, once he proceeds to the genitals, it may leave you panicked.
Did you know? Dogs have apocrine sweat glands located throughout their body. It functions as a scent gland helping them to identify other canines and know more about them through their scent.
There is a sufficient concentration of these glands in their anus and genitals. That’s why, when seeing a new dog, they are eager to know its age, sex, and other details. To satisfy their curiosity, they lick the other canine’s genitals.
2. To Know Each Other Better
When you are acquainted with someone for the first time, you will greet the other person, right? How will you do that? By shaking hands. The next step will be conversing with the person to know him better. Now, that’s about you.
But dogs can’t talk, so what would they do? Lick and sniff to learn about their surroundings through their nose and mouth. The apocrine scent glands are in abundance in the genitals. So licking the other dogs’ private parts will help your dog to know more about the other fellow.
It will give him important information, such as if the other dog is a male or female. It will also get to know its fellow mate’s age, sexual sensitivity, and even the dog’s mood in certain cases.
So, by licking, they exchange pleasantries and garner vital details regarding the other dog. The non-verbal cues will also help the dog decide whether or not to build a bond with the other dog.
3. As a Part Of Their Grooming Behavior
Licking is an integral part of grooming in dogs. You might often spot one licking the other if you have many dogs in your family living together. It’s an indication that they are grooming each other. Through the process, they also show their love and affection towards one another.
So, if this is the case, you might wonder whether licking genitals is also a part of the grooming process. The answer is yes. It’s especially seen in dogs who share a deep bond. They are cleaning their friends/companions and this. This gesture even reflects their care and concern.
If you closely look at a mother with her puppies, you can observe this behavior even better. She will lick her kids all over and clean them. However, if the licking is because of grooming, it won’t last for more than 15 to 20 seconds.
4. A Health Problem
Dogs have incredible olfactory responses. With their powerful noses, they can sniff almost everything, even illness, in humans and other dogs.
When your dog licks the other dog as a friendly gesture or to show affection, it will reflect in his gesture and body language. He will lick for a few seconds and then leave.
But, if you find your dog licking your other pooch forcibly and continually, something might be wrong. Perhaps it has sensed an illness in your other dog.
If he is licking the private parts, his fellow friend may be having a discharge. Something might be wrong with the other dog’s colon, urinary tract, or reproductive system. He perhaps wants to alert you that the other dog isn’t well through these frequent lickings.
You should follow his cues and monitor the other canine well. If you notice anything unusual, get him checked by a vet.
5. It Has Become a Habit
If you have two or three dogs at home and see one of them frequently licking the others, then one of your dogs has made this into a habit. Since they all live together, the chances of one trying to know the other shouldn’t be ruled out.
Perhaps it has gotten into licking its canine friends’ private areas and doesn’t wish to change this habit. It may seek pleasure from it. If it is doing this habitually, it may not just lick the genitals but other parts of its pal’s body.
Now, how will you know that this is just a habit? It’s through your dog’s body language. It may not be stressed or anxious when repeating this behavior. It will also do it at a certain time of the day-during playtime or after meals.
6. Compulsive Licking Behavior
When someone repeats an action regularly, then that’s a habit. But if the action is done continuously and uncontrollably, it becomes a compulsion. Compulsive behavior is also common in humans, prompting them to be obsessed with a certain thing. Dogs could be obsessed with anything.
If you see them licking the other dog’s private parts for hours, it might be a case of compulsive behavior.
It isn’t good for both dogs. While one dog may enjoy the activity, the other dog may not. When the latter tries to express its displeasure, it may be snapped or even bitten by the dog indulging in this action.
Compulsive behavior occurs in dogs when they are bored, aren’t stimulated mentally or physically, or are anxious.
If your dog is overly compulsive, take it to a vet immediately, lest controlling it becomes difficult.
Is it Bad For Your Dog to Lick Other Dogs’ Privates?
As mentioned, licking is a form of social behavior helping one dog communicate with another. Suppose the licking doesn’t last for more than fifteen seconds, then it’s fine. If it exceeds this time, then it isn’t good, though. It would be best if you intervened and even pulled away your dog, which is licking the genitals of the other dog.
So, on the one hand, one dog licking the other dog’s privates is equivalent to the hugs, kisses, or handshakes you indulge in when meeting an acquaintance. On the other hand, it is good until it remains within limits. Otherwise, as a dog parent, you need to step in and take the initiative to make your dog stop what he is doing.
What to Do to Prevent Your Dog From Licking the Other Dogs’ Privates?
Too much of anything is bad, and so is your dog’s excessive licking of the other dogs’ privates. Suppose you sense that licking of genitalia is no longer confined to a social behavior but has become an obsession. In that case, you must find ways to stop or at least minimize it.
1. Divert Their Attention
If your dog developed the habit of licking the other dog’s private parts, diverting his attention is the best way to prevent him from overdoing it.
If you see your dog indulging in this behavior for more than 10-15 seconds, then distract him by showing him a toy, for instance. Or you may throw a ball and signal him to fetch it. If he listens to you, reward him with a treat.
When you keep doing this, each time your dog exceeds his licking time, he will associate his stopping the activity with getting a treat. In this way, he will eventually learn when to stop.
2. Stimulate Them Physically and Mentally
When bored, a dog may resort to several destructive activities, like chewing, biting, licking, barking, and whining. However, licking the other dogs’ private parts to eliminate boredom may be a rare occurrence.
Yet, when they have nothing to do, they try to entertain themselves with things that fascinate them the most. So, in your dog’s case, it may be licking the other dog’s privates. Perhaps he derives pleasure from it. So, he prefers doing it when he is bored.
Ensure that your dogs get a sufficient dose of exercise. Take them for walks and arrange playtime within a fenced yard. To keep them engaged, you could play a game of fetch or even teach them a trick. When indoors, come up with interesting games as well.
Also, train them to live in a crate from their puppy days. When they start doing the same, they will consider the crate their world and be less inclined to destructive activities.
3. Train Them Well
When your dog has learned to follow commands, controlling your dog’s undesirable behavior will be easier. It will be an added advantage if you have taught your dog the command ‘Come’ and ‘No.’ When your dog is engrossed in licking, use the command ‘Come’ and offer a toy to distract him. Similarly, when you sense, he is licking for long, a firm ‘No’ from your end will make him understand that you aren’t approving of his behavior.
4. Seek a Behaviorist’s Help
The role of an animal behaviorist is to study animal behaviors and determine the causes and factors that influence a particular trait. So, if your dog has gone overboard with licking the other dogs’ private parts, you need to seek a behaviorist’s help.
5. Consult a Veterinarian
If one of your dogs licks the other frequently, it’s better to get both of them checked by a vet. Once the health issues are ruled out, you must consider the behavioral aspects.
Will dogs lick other dogs’ genitals if they are spayed or neutered?
Dogs will lick other dogs’ genitals irrespective of whether they are neutered or spayed. However, unneutered dogs will display this behavior even more than their neutered counterparts.
Why will male dogs lick other males and female dogs lick other females?
One of the reasons for doing the same is to determine the gender. Suppose male dogs are looking to mark their territory or show superiority. In that case, they must know the other males in their domain. Female dogs will also do the same to learn about the gender of the members in a group. Moreover, licking genitals also helps one dog to understand the sexual sensitivity of the other dog. So, if the female is in heat, males in a group may lick her genitals even more.
How long should one dog lick the other dog’s genitals?
If one dog licks the other dog’s genitals to know them better, it shouldn’t last for more than 15 seconds. Anything more than that is a red flag.
To summarize, it’s okay if the licking lasts for a short span. If it prolongs and brings discomfort to the dog being licked, you must stop it immediately. Keep your pets engaged and well-exercised. It will keep them busy and mentally happy.
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.