As a dog family, you may notice behavior changes from your older dog when you get a new puppy. It is an exciting time and an adjustment for them to get used to the puppy and welcome them into your home.

One of the behavioral practices you may notice is that your older dog starts licking your new puppy. At first it may seem cute, or appear to just happen a little. Over time, though, you notice that this is something that is happening more frequently than you thought, and you may be curious about this behavior. 

Why does my dog keep licking my new puppy?

The short answer to this question is that there is a number of reasons why your older dog is licking your new puppy. Depending on the frequency of the licking and if this is a familiar behavior, your dog could be licking your new puppy out of habit or because they sense an issue that you may not see. 

Habitual Licking

This is something that your older dog may have been doing for quite some time as a way to deal with stress, but it is more prevalent now that you have a new puppy. When they start this as a habit licking, they will lick the same place on the puppy.

It can be the ears, their paws, or even their genital area. If nothing is wrong, you’ll notice this behavior happening around the same time of the day and it will continue almost daily when the dogs calm down and are near each other. The act can be such a strong habit that the new puppy quickly becomes adjusted to the behavior of the older dog and begins to expect it. 

Possible Infection 

If the new puppy has some slight detection of an infection that you may not be privy to, your older dog may sense it and be licking as a way to clean the area. While your older dog is not the new puppy’s parent, they do still possess maternal and paternal instincts. They also have a way to detect sicknesses such as an infection that you may not be aware of for days.

If your dog has not licked your dog before and starts licking out of the blue, then it is probably related to something in the puppy’s health. You may want to schedule a vet appointment and let them know where your older dog is licking and how the behavior switched rapidly. 

Grooming

Is your older dog spending a lot of time in your new puppy’s ears? That’s a way to keep them clean and groom them. Since dogs are not able to reach the inside of their ears, they need to be cleaned regularly. While you will do it as the owner, the instinct from your older dog will kick in when the new puppy is around and you may find them keeping those ears clean.

When they are doing this grooming to each other, they are bonding and creating a relationship that you want to happen so that they get along well for years to come. 

Why does my dog lick my puppy’s privates?

Another concerning act that you may see from your older dog is licking the privates on your puppy. While this is initially disturbing, it is actually pretty common and normal for dogs. Essentially, the older dogs are trying to clean and groom your puppy, teaching them how to keep this area of their body clean so that as they get older, they will learn by example. Older dogs do the same thing to their own private areas daily. 

Even if the intent of the licking is good for the older dogs, excessive licking in the private area can cause hot spots on your puppy. These areas are unpleasant and are a direct result of a rough tongue constantly moving across the skin in that area. Once this area has created a hot spot, the potential for bacteria and other unwanted infections will generate quickly. 

How to get my dog to leave my puppy alone?

If you have been watching your dogs and have ruled out potential health issues with your new puppy, you may be looking for new ways to get your older dog to leave your puppy alone. This is important, especially if they are causing anxiety to your new puppy, or they seem abnormally stressed. 

First, you need to get your older dog to understand that this behavior is not okay and stop them every time they start to lick the new puppy. Just as you would do if they were habitually licking themselves, you want to make sure the area that they are licking is undesirable and will deter them from continuing the habit.

A quick mix of apple cider vinegar and water that is perfectly mixed and applied to the preferred area is what you need to do.

As long as there are no hotspots on the puppy, they will not have any discomfort other than the unwanted smell of vinegar. When your older dog goes to the preferred area, they will be met with the unpleasant smell and taste of apple cider vinegar.

By applying this solution several times a day, you will break your dog from licking your new puppy. If apple cider vinegar is not your preferred choice, make sure you select something like honey, a hot spice, or another less preferred flavor for your puppy. 

Should I separate my dog from my puppy?

When the licking continues to increase or become significant, many owners question their need to have the dogs together. Separating the dogs may not be ideal because they do need to learn to live together. However, you can also increase exercise for both your new pup and your older dog as a way to distract them and keep them from licking the puppies.

Making sure that they are burning all of their energy and getting the right amount of exercise keeps your dogs healthy. Keeping both dogs busy and active throughout the day can be enough to keep your dog away from the new puppy. 

How long does it take for a dog to get used to a puppy?

While this question is pretty loaded, most dogs and puppies have come to some sort of understanding after about 1-2 months of living within the home. Your older dog may show some signs of anxiety with a new dog, but it is essential to ensure they know they are still loved and the new puppy is a part of the family. 

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.