Dogs do a lot of strange things, but few are as disconcerting to our sensibilities as them licking each other’s private parts. When we see them going to town on another dog, it’s impossible not to wonder why.
What are they thinking? Is it a form of sexual interaction, or is it what we would describe as platonic?
Why does my dog lick my other dog’s privates?
It doesn’t matter if it’s a male and female dog, or two dogs of the same sex. It’s startling to see them licking each other’s privates. They don’t even seem to mind anyone watching. They just start licking, Willy nilly, with no consideration for your embarrassment.
In addition to shuddering, blushing, or both, you have to wonder what drives the behavior.
Getting to Know Each Other
If the dogs are meeting for the first time, they may lick each other’s private parts as a way of getting to know each other. Dogs, like people, emit lots of pheromones from their private area.
In humans, pheromones are basically for sexual attraction. You’ll actually be attracted to people who are genetically compatible with you, and you determine this, subconsciously, of course, through smelling their pheromones.
Dogs use pheromones in a much broader sense than humans. They can learn lots about their new friend from them, including health, gender, sexual status, and even their mood.
Keep in mind that dogs have a much more sensitive nose than we do. Their sense of smell is about 100,000 times better than ours. They also devote 30% of their brain to smell, while we only use 5% of our brain to process smells.
In addition to their nose, dogs have a jacobson’s organ. This is used to decode chemical messages and provide additional information. The jacobson organ detects smells that don’t have a discernable smell, including pheremones.
Dogs are curious creatures by nature. They use their mouth and nose to explore the world around them. They also seem to be drawn to strong smells. Perhaps it triggers their sense of curiosity.
This is the most concerning reason your dog may be licking your other dog’s privates, but it’s also heartwarming. Dogs can sense health problems in their pack members. This includes their owner and other dogs in the household.
Their superior sense of smell clues them into lots of health information that we don’t have access to. If your dog is obsessively licking your other dog’s private area, they may be trying to help them.
Dogs will lick each others wounds as a way to keep them clean. However, this isn’t limited to wounds. If your dog has discharge or something wrong in their reproductive or urinary tract, this can lead your dog to lick their private parts in an attempt to aid the other dog.
It’s also possible they are doing it to get your attention. If there’s a health issue, it’s possible your dog is intelligent enough to move beyond identifying it to trying to call your attention to the area.
If your dog takes an occasional lick, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if your dog licks the other dogs’ privates often, or doesn’t want to stop, get them checked out by the vet.
Dogs groom each other, particularly if they have a close relationship with each other. It’s common to see them grooming each other by licking each other’s fur. It’s less common to see them grooming each other’s private parts, but it does happen.
If you see them licking each other’s privates in addition to licking other areas as part of grooming, this is probably simply grooming behavior.
Dogs are undeniably creatures of habit. This can be a good thing. Your dog may have a predictable routine of meal and bathroom times, and even go to bed at around the same time each night.
Just like humans, sometimes dogs do things for no other reason than habit. If they fall into the habit of licking another dog’s privates, or their own, it may become part of their normal routine.
Habit is not necessarily a problem, but it is problematic if it escalates to compulsive licking. Just like humans, dogs can develop compulsive disorders. Licking is one of the most common types of compulsive behavior.
If your dog licks themselves or another dog obsessively, they may have a compulsive disorder. Dogs with a compulsive disorder will seem to be unable to control the behavior. They may do it for hours at a time or many times a day.
They may also continue after negative consequences, like being snapped at by the other dog, who is tired of having their private bits licked.
Is it normal for a dog to lick another dog’s privates?
The good news is, yes, it is normal for dogs to lick each others private parts. It’s simply a natural part of dog behavior, just like smelling butts and marking their territory.
The most common reason for this is simply social greeting. Humans shake hands, or kiss those we are more intimately acquainted with. Dogs sniff butts and lick the privates of those they know very well, and those they are just beginning to know.
How to get my dog to stop licking my other dog’s privates?
If your dog is licking another dog’s privates, you shouldn’t step in immediately. Remember, licking is a part of their social behavior. It’s similar to hugging or kissing for humans.
However, if your pooch seems obsessive about licking, it’s perfectly ok to want to put a stop to the behavior. There are a few ways to get them to stop.
Don’t forbid your dog from licking completely. Instead, allow them a polite lick or two, then intervene. The best way to do this is with redirection. Redirect them to something else that can hold their attention, to get their mind off licking.
You do need to be careful, however. If you reinforce the licking by unintentionally rewarding your dog, you’ll make the situation worse. Avoid giving them treats or special play sessions when they begin licking.
You can provide these things before they begin licking. Once they’ve begun, you’ll need to redirect them without rewarding them.
Be sure they are getting plenty of mental and physical stimulation. If your dog is bored, they are more likely to lick obsessively. It can also stimulate their natural curiosity. After all, when you don’t get much entertainment, something simple can hold your fascination.
Get A Check Up
If your dog is licking your other dog frequently, it’s best to get both dogs a check up. The dog that’s being licked should be checked for diseases or health conditions.
If there’s no physical problem inspiring the licking, you’ll want to speak to your vet about your licker’s behavior. They will check for any underlying health conditions. If your pooch is diagnosed with obsessive disorder, your vet may recommend medication to control the behavior.
Contact a Behaviorist
If your dog’s behavior is really annoying to you or the recipient of the licking, consider contacting an animal behavioralist. They are essentially therapists for dogs. They can help you manage or correct your pooch’s behavioral issues in a way that’s both humane and effective.