Why do dogs lick other dogs?
Have you ever wondered why dogs lick other dogs? We often see dogs lick themselves clean. What can be the reason behind this peculiar behavior of a dog? The dog has a long powerful tongue that can both be used to remove dried up mud from the dog’s fur and at the same time be gentle and soft to give affectionate licks.
The maternal instinct
Mother dogs lick newborn puppies to protect them from predators. Instinctively, mother dogs knew that a newborn pup’s scent would draw the attention of predators. As soon as the puppies are born they are licked clean by the mother. Genital and anal areas of the puppies are licked by the mother to encourage defecation and urination. And once the puppies have relieved themselves, the mother’s tongue will again serve as baby wipes to clean the puppies.
At birth, puppies will at once feel maternal affection. The puppies are licked to show the mother’s affection. When puppies lick each other they are starting to bond. Licking to show affection is commonly seen in dogs that live together in one household. Dogs that meet in a park seldom lick each other and if ever they do, licking is done with another purpose and not to show affection.
Puppies wanting to nurse would lick the mother dog’s teats. This will stimulate the flow of milk. In the wild, the first solid food of the puppies is regurgitated food. Puppies would lick the mother dog’s mouth to encourage food regurgitation. Dogs usually live in packs in the wild. The alpha dog decides who gets to eat first. Dogs lower in rank would lick the mouth of the alpha dog to ask for food. It is also a sign of being submissive to the alpha dog.
Dogs lick each other to clean themselves. Oftentimes you will see a dog licking the head, the back or the ears of another. A dog can not reach these parts of the body with its own tongue. Grooming and cleaning therefore has to be done by another dog.
Did you know that a dog’s saliva is believed to have antibiotic qualities? A dog would lick the wounds of another dog to clean and to hasten the healing process. Likewise, licking is done to offer comfort to the ailing or wounded dog.