Why Is My Dog Licking My Other Dog All of a Sudden?

As dog owners, we often observe intriguing behaviors in our furry companions. One such behavior that can leave us puzzled is when one dog suddenly starts licking another dog excessively. 

While it may seem innocent, this behavior holds deeper meanings in the world of canine communication. 

In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind this sudden lick-fest and shed light on what your dogs might be trying to convey.

Understanding Canine Communication

Dogs have a unique and intricate way of communicating with each other. Their primary methods of communication include body language, vocalizations, and scent marking. 

Licking is a crucial aspect of their communication repertoire and can be interpreted in various ways, depending on the context and circumstances.

Expressing Affection and Bonding

One of the most common reasons for sudden and excessive licking between dogs is a display of affection and bonding. Licking is an instinctual behavior in dogs that they learn from a young age. 

It is often a way for dogs to show love and respect towards each other, similar to how a mother dog licks her puppies to groom and care for them. 

If your dogs have a close and harmonious relationship, this licking behavior may simply be a manifestation of their strong bond.

Reinforcing Social Hierarchy

In a multi-dog household, licking can also be a part of the social hierarchy. Dominant dogs may use licking to assert their authority and reaffirm their position as the pack leader. 

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On the other hand, submissive dogs may lick more to show respect and submission to the dominant dog. 

This behavior helps maintain order and peace within the group, and it’s generally nothing to be concerned about unless it escalates into aggression.

Seeking Attention or Play

Dogs are highly social animals that crave interaction and playtime with their pack members. If one dog suddenly starts licking another, it could be an invitation to play or an attempt to grab their friend’s attention. 

Dogs may lick each other’s faces, ears, or paws, signaling their desire to engage in a friendly game or seek companionship.

Alleviating Anxiety and Stress

Licking can also be a self-soothing mechanism for dogs when they feel anxious, stressed, or uncertain. 

If one dog senses that the other is distressed, they may respond with comforting licks as a way to reassure and calm their friend. This behavior is particularly noticeable during thunderstorms, fireworks, or other stressful events.

Detecting Emotional or Medical Changes

Dogs possess a remarkable sense of smell, and their tongues can provide valuable information about each other’s emotional or health states. 

Sudden changes in licking behavior might indicate something is amiss with the other dog’s health. For example, a dog may start licking another dog more frequently if they detect an injury, infection, or hormonal changes like pregnancy.

Grooming and Hygiene

Grooming plays a vital role in canine social structure. By licking each other, dogs help maintain cleanliness within their pack, removing dirt, debris, and parasites. 

If one dog is unwell or injured and cannot groom themselves adequately, other pack members may step in to assist in the grooming process.

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Possessiveness and Jealousy

Sometimes, sudden and excessive licking might stem from possessiveness or jealousy. If one dog feels threatened by a new addition to the household (another dog or a family member), they may attempt to reassert their ownership over the other dog by licking them excessively.


The sudden increase in licking behavior between dogs can be attributed to various factors, ranging from affection and bonding to asserting dominance or addressing stress and anxiety. 

As a responsible dog owner, it’s essential to closely observe their body language and consider the context in which the licking occurs to understand the underlying message.

In most cases, excessive licking between dogs is a natural and harmless part of their social interactions. However, if you notice any signs of distress, aggression, or health issues during this behavior, it is advisable to seek guidance from a professional veterinarian or animal behaviorist to ensure the well-being of your beloved canine companions. 

Remember, a happy and harmonious pack results from understanding and respecting their unique communication code.