“Why does my dog do x-y-z?” Is one of the most common questions from dog owners that observe behaviours from their pet that don’t make any logical sense in human terms, but evidently make perfect sense to the dog! The question becomes even more complex when the behaviour involved is something displayed only by your own dog and not the canine community as a whole, or if your dog is taking a normal canine behaviour to an extreme, in some cases turning it into an obsession.
If your dog is obsessive about licking other dogs, this probably generates a lot of questions, as well as a lot of slobber! In this article, we will look at what it means when your dog obsessively licks a certain part of another dog’s body, and why they might be doing it. Read on to learn more.
Understandably, not all dogs appreciate being licked, particularly if they are being licked repeatedly or obsessively. If the other dog is trying to move away or becomes defensive about it, it is fair to say that your dog’s licking has become a problem behaviour, and one that will need to be looked at. In order to do this, you will need to work out why your dog is licking the other dog in the first place, and in order to work this out, you can learn a lot about what part of the body your dog is licking.
We’ll look into this in more detail below.
Licking the mouth of another dog is one of the most common canine behaviours, and one that harks back to puppyhood, when the pups would lick the lips of their dam to taste what they had eaten, which in turn is a throwback to the life of wild dogs, when dams would regurgitate food for the litter.
As pups get older, they maintain their interest in licking the faces of both other dogs and people, as a form of greeting and polite submission, and telling the other party that they like them and are not a threat. This is all normal and fine, although dogs should of course be taught that licking people’s faces is undesirable, but this behaviour can also become a problem with other dogs if it turns into an obsession.
Intervene once your dog and the other party have got their greetings out of the way, and redirect your dog’s attention to something else.
If you ever watch a puppy playing with their dam or a tolerant older dog, particularly if the older dog has floppy ears, you may have noticed that the dog’s ears are a target for the pup’s attention, and that they will often try to grab them, chew on them or lick them! Obviously even the most tolerant of dogs will only put up with this for a finite amount of time, after which they will be keen to put a stop to it!
Licking the ears of another dog can be a part of mutual grooming, and for dogs with floppy ears, they may even have traces of food on the ends of them!
Some dogs are even particularly attracted to ears due to the smell of ear wax, which is just one more piece of information to add to your list of “disgusting things dogs are attracted to!”
As with mouth licking, let your dog lick the other dog briefly while the other dog is tolerant of this, but intervene as soon as the other dog shows signs of having had enough. If your dog seems to home in on one particular dog when it comes to ear licking, it might be worth having that dog’s ears checked out by the vet too, just to ensure that nothing is amiss with them.
If you thought your dog liking the scent of earwax was bad enough, it is only going to go downhill from here!
When dogs meet and greet each other, you will no doubt have seen that both parties are keen to sniff each other’s butts and private parts, which is due to the pheromone concentration and rich scent glands present in this area of the body. Generally, sniffing around the butt and privates is a part of greeting that is swiftly moved on from, but in some cases, may extend to licking.
If one dog persists in obsessively trying to lick the other dog’s genitals, it is almost guaranteed that the other dog will soon lose patience with this and let your dog know that enough is enough. Just as can be the case with obsessive ear licking, if your dog is again obsessed with the private parts of one particular dog only, it may be worth getting that dog checked out by the vet.
This aside, again, once your dog begins to display excessive and pronounced licking that is annoying the other dog, step in and redirect your dog to something else.