We all know how excited dogs get when they are around other pooches. Although our dogs love being with us, there is no doubt that the joy they get from being around other dogs is unmatchable. When they see a dog in the street or at the park, they will stop and stare in a fascinated fashion. Better yet, if they’re able to, they will run over to their new friend, tail wagging with an air of excitement as they try to find out all about this new friend of theirs. When two dogs meet and like each other, they’ll bark happily, run around and play enthusiastically, ecstatic to be in the company of other canines. It’s great to see your dog having fun with another pooch, and even better when they get along and behave well in each other’s company.
But some dogs can act peculiarly with other hounds. You’ve probably seen your dog lick another pup’s mouth at some point in his life, or maybe other dogs have approached your pooch in this fashion. Just like dogs love to lick their owners’ cheeks and mouths, they seem to enjoy licking other dogs’ mouths too, even going so far at times as to put their tongues on the teeth of other canines!
So, why do dogs lick other dogs’ mouths? There are various explanations offered by vets and dog behavioral experts. Some say that for dogs, a lick on the mouth is considered a friendly greeting and for others, it is a way to indicate respect and establish their place in a pack. Below are some of the bizarre reasons as to why our dogs love to lick each other’s mouths!
A Friendly Greeting to A Fellow Pup
Greetings are universal, yet differ depending on the culture and country you’re in. For example, in the USA, Canada, and other English-speaking countries, it’s common to give your friend a hug, a kiss on the cheek, or perhaps a handshake depending on the familiarity of your relationship. Contrastingly, in Japan the common greeting is a bow, keeping a physical distance between you and the other person to show respect and courtesy. Given that there are hundreds of different greetings between humans, this underlines the importance and significance of them. So why wouldn’t it be the same for dogs?
When two dogs see each other, they are immediately intrigued and often excited. They want to investigate this new canine that has appeared in front of them, and often when they greet them, they will lick the mouth of the other dog. For some dogs, licking the mouth of another pooch is a friendly gesture that indicates they want to be friends and play. So, if your dog is doing this to new pups, or even to familiar furry faces, it could just be his way of saying hello to his friend!
Think about how dogs greet new humans. They get excited, jump up, and wag their tails excitably. They often lick the cheek and mouth area of a new human friend as well. As with other pups, dogs lick this area of the body on humans to indicate friendliness and an openness to being friends.
So, don’t worry too much if your dog is only licking other dogs’ mouths when he is greeting them. As long as the pooch on the receiving end of the lick is happy to accept this, then you don’t have to stop your dog from saying hello in this manner.
A Habit From Puppyhood
What do humans do when we feel hungry? We might get irritable and snap at our friends and loved ones, or we might lose energy to the point that we can barely string a sentence together. Dogs on the other hand may lick another pooch’s mouth to show their hunger. This is a habit from puppyhood, and perhaps one that not all dogs outgrow. When dogs are young puppies, they will latch on to their mum for milk. After weaning off of milk, their mums will often feed them food orally, regurgitating anything before feeding it to their pup. It’s common for puppies to lick their mothers’ faces to ask for food. For this reason, this gesture is innate within all dogs, but it is usually something that they grow out of as they age. However, some dogs don’t ever get over this habit and so will continue to lick at other dogs’ mouths, even when they are an adult.
If your dog is doing this it could mean that your pet is licking other dogs’ mouths as a way of telling the other hound that they feel hungry. Dogs can’t verbalize hunger to humans, but between canines, this gesture is a telling sign that a dog wants to eat. If you see your dog doing this to other dogs, think about when he last ate. This could tell you whether your dog is doing this because he has pangs of hunger or not.
Since this gesture is an instinctive habit, it could be that it is your dog’s way of communicating affection to another dog. Given that female dogs feed their puppies using mouth to mouth, some dogs will grow up seeing any oral interaction as a sign of care. Therefore, if dogs are licking each other’s mouth, it could be a way of them showing their affection and love for one another. Assuming that this habit doesn’t lead to any nasty fighting, and neither dog is annoyed by the licking, it is fine to allow your pups to lick each other on the mouth! It may be their way of showing their appreciation for one another.
Showing Their Status in a Pack
Although our domesticated pooches live with us in loving family homes and adapt well to cohabiting with humans, they are pack animals at heart. This means that they will naturally play a role within a group of other dogs, and behave according to their status. For example, if your dog is a young pooch and he meets an older dog, he may lick the mouth of the older canine to show submission and acknowledgment of the other dog’s superiority to him. This is a natural behavior in a pack of dogs, and a way for canines to communicate respect to one another.
Interestingly enough, a superior dog will respond by licking the mouth of your dog to show he has understood and accepts your pup. This is just like when ordinary people in the UK bow or curtsey to the Queen and then wait for her to make a gesture indicating they can stand up straight again. Dogs also need to show respect to superiors and wait for them to demonstrate their acceptance and approval. For this reason, if you see two dogs licking each other’s mouths, one after the other, it could be that they are communicating about status and showing respect to one another.
Similarly, dogs lick other dogs on the mouth when they want to apologize. If two dogs have been playing rough and perhaps one has been too aggressive, a more dominant pooch may physically show his annoyance. The dog who has caused the issue may lick a superior dog’s mouth to apologize and say sorry for his actions. Be cautious and observant if you see your pooch licking another dog’s mouth after they have been fighting. Although it is a sign of your dog saying sorry, it could aggravate the other pup even more and cause more animosity between the two. Be ready to pull your dog away from a potential scuffle at any moment.
Your Dog Really Likes Another Pooch!
Dogs have many ways of showing that they like a human or another animal. They’ll nuzzle us, jump up at us, follow us around, and want to play with us. They’ll even give us big licks on the cheek to show they care. However, between dogs, licking each other’s mouths may be an indication that they like each other more than just in a platonic way!
Like when humans kiss one another as a way to show their romantic interest in someone, there is a theory that dogs lick other dogs’ mouths when they want to mate with them. This can be explained by dogs’ senses and how they use their mouths and noses to taste and smell new scents. When dogs are in new environments they will sniff around for other scents, perhaps looking to smell if they are in another animal’s territory, or if there is food nearby. They may even lick foreign objects to check if they are food or not. The same rules apply when dogs meet other dogs.
If a dog meets a new pooch, they’ll use their nose and mouth to sniff out the dog, as a way to determine factors about the dog. One, in particular, is to see whether the other dog is releasing attractive pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that all animal bodies give off, and if a dog likes another pup’s pheromones, he may start licking their mouth as a way to signal this. Pheromones are highly important for dogs, especially concerning mating. So, if you see your male dog sniffing a female hound and then licking her mouth, it could indicate that he is quite taken with this pet pooch and wants to get to know her a little better!
Another theory that explains why dogs lick other dogs’ mouths, is that they have detected an oral infection and they are trying to help the pooch clean it. Because dogs’ have such good noses, they can often smell if hounds have cavities or other tooth problems. They’ll resolve to lick inside the mouth of another dog in a bid to help clean their teeth. Therefore, if you see a dog licking the inside of another dog’s mouth, it’s likely that this pup has a dental problem, and needs to be seen by a vet.
Your Dog Might Feel Anxious
It’s well known that all animals, be it dogs, cats, rabbits, and even humans omit obvious signs of discomfort when they feel anxious. Each person and animal has different quirks which are ways of representing their stress and for some dogs, they offload their anxiety by licking other hounds’ faces and mouths. If your dog is incessantly licking another pooch’s mouth, it could indicate that they are anxious. Your dog may feel nervous and unsettled and not sure of how to behave appropriately.
When introducing your dog to a new playgroup of pups, it is important to observe how he behaves. If he begins to incessantly lick the mouths of other dogs out of anxiety, they may begin to get annoyed with him and start to growl or bark at him. If you believe your dog is licking other canines’ mouths due to anxiety, it’s important to ensure you are close by when introducing him to other pups. Keep him on a leash during interactions with new hounds, and upon seeing him obsessively licking the mouths of other dogs, pull him away from the situation.
You need to discourage your dog from over licking the mouths of other dogs, as it could cause distress to them, and they may then react in a volatile way. By firmly removing your furry friend from the situation and using a code word to signify this is bad behavior, he will eventually learn that this action isn’t good and will stop behaving as such.
However, you don’t have to be overly vigilant. If you see your pup give another dog a small lick on the mouth, this is fine, as it is normal and natural for dogs to lick other dogs’ mouths in small doses. Ensure that your dog is not excessively licking the mouths of other furry friends, and it should be fine for him to partake in this activity once in a while.