Why do dogs lick other dogs?

April 13, 2012

A dog licks other dogs for physical health and to communicate its feelings and status to other dogs. A dog is able to use its tongue as a tool for hygienic purposes. The dog’s tongue is a powerful muscle that is able to remove particles from the skin and fur while being soft and gentle at the same time.

A mother dog will use its tongue to lick its puppies clean at birth and to show affection to its puppies. The mother dog will clean a puppy’s entire body as a way of keeping the puppy clean. Puppies will also lick their littermates which starts an affectionate social relationship.

Puppies lick their mother’s teats to stimulate the release of milk and their mother’s mouth to stimulate regurgitation for food. When the mother licks a newborn puppy’s genital and anal areas, it stimulates urination and defecation activities for the puppy. In order to stimulate mating, the licking of another dog’s genitals can occur.

Dogs lick the injury site of another dog that has been wounded. This licking activity is both a relaxing and healing activity for the hurt dog. The licking also cleans the wound and can keep the wound healthy as it heals. It has been reported that a dog’s saliva has antibiotic qualities.

When dogs live in a large pack where alpha personality dogs may rule over eating rights, lower status dogs may lick the alpha dog’s muzzle and mouth to beg for food. A dog may challenge another alpha dog for the right to eat first by refusing to beg for its food. Submissive dogs may lick another dog’s muzzle to show its deference.

Dogs lick other dogs and puppies for cleanliness, affection, milk and food production related to puppies, waste elimination for puppies, healing, begging and social behavior. Licking is useful activity that can enrich a dog’s life through its relationship building qualities, for its health promoting abilities and effectiveness at communication for peace keeping in the pack.

A dog must use the tools it has in place of the hands that we enjoy using. The dog is able to use its particular tools, including its vocalizations, ears, tails, facial expressions, body position, movement, feet and tongue for a variety of messages. The tongue is an especially useful tool that can take care of important physical and social needs for the dog.

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