What Does It Mean When Puppies Lick Each Other's Noses?

by Melodie Anne Coffman Google
    Licking could be a part of their regular bathing routine after dining.

    Licking could be a part of their regular bathing routine after dining.

    Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

    Watching the ways puppies communicate with one another is quite entertaining. They’ll roll around, like a fluffy tornado roaming through your home, without a care in the world. When they finally do take a rare breather, you may see them lick each other’s noses. Usually this behavior is friendly and isn’t anything to worry about. Just watch for signs of aggression and break them apart if need be.

    If you haven’t already noticed, your puppies are probably highly food motivated. They come running the split second you walk into the kitchen and know the sound the treat bag makes when you shake it. When it comes time to chow down, your pint-size fur balls leave no scrap untouched -- even if that tiny fragment happens to be on another pup. They’ll lick each other’s snouts as a way to clean up and get a taste of that very last crumb. After all, the muzzle area is where crumbs are likely to hide.

    Dogs are pack animals, meaning they prefer to group together and follow their boss around. Don’t feel left out; you’re part of their pack, too. But when you see little Buster licking Oscar’s nose and face, Buster is trying to appease Oscar. He’s recognizing Oscar as the more dominant dog in the group and wants to make him happy. They may lick each other back and forth, although chances are, one pooch will tend to be the more prominent licker.

    Nose licking is sometimes a part of playtime. Watch them interact during play; they’ll bow down, chase each other around and pounce on one another’s tails. When they finally do get a chance to tie each other down, they’ll lick one another’s snouts, necks, bellies and even rear ends. As long as each pup seems comfortable and content, the licking isn’t anything to worry about.

    If the nose licking becomes aggressive, like if Buster forcefully holds down Oscar and makes him stay there during the licking session, it can trigger a fight if Oscar gets agitated. Be wary of a stiff posture, spiked hair along the spine, baring teeth or growling. These signals could let you know that one dog isn’t into the licking session. In this case, it’s best to distract them with a loud noise and give them each something else to play with -- balls, squeaky toys or rubber chew bones should do the trick.

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    About the Author

    Melodie Anne Coffman has been writing for various online and print publications since 1996, specializing in human and animal nutrition. After receiving her master's degree in food science and human nutrition, she opened up her own nutrition consulting business in the New England area.

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