Dog owners and enthusiasts have often observed unique and sometimes puzzling behaviors in their pets. One such behavior is when one dog licks another dog’s eyes. While this might seem peculiar, understanding the reasons behind this can offer a deeper insight into canine behavior, communication, and care. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Why does my dog lick my other dog’s eyes?” you’re in for an enlightening read.
My Dog Licks My Other Dog’s Eyes. Possible reasons and solutions
1. Natural Instincts from Puppyhood
The behavior of licking another’s eyes has its roots in puppyhood. Mother dogs will lick their puppies’ faces, particularly around the eyes, to stimulate and keep them clean. This behavior is about hygiene, bonding, and showing affection. As dogs age, they might replicate this behavior with other dogs as a sign of love, intimacy, or submissiveness.
2. Social Bonds and Hierarchies
Eye licking can indicate respect or submission in the complex world of canine social structures. When a dog licks another dog’s eyes, it might show that it acknowledges the other dog’s higher status in the pack hierarchy. This behavior can reinforce bonds and reduce tension between dogs.
3. Grooming and Cleanliness
Like many other animals, dogs have an instinct to groom themselves and their pack members. Licking another dog’s eyes might be a way to help keep them clean, remove debris, or even address minor irritations. Think of it as a helpful gesture, similar to how primates groom each other.
4. Sensing Health Issues
Dogs have a keen sense of smell, far superior to humans. Sometimes, dogs lick another dog’s eyes to sense an issue or an anomaly. Dogs can detect changes in their companions’ health or spot early signs of infections. If you notice persistent licking around the eyes, it might be worth getting your pet checked for eye-related health concerns.
5. Seeking Nutrients and Taste
Dogs are known to be attracted to the salty taste of tears. A dog with watery eyes or tear stains might entice another dog to lick them. This behavior is partly driven by the flavor and the potential nutrients they might gain from the tears.
6. Comfort and Stress Relief
For some dogs, the act of licking can be a soothing mechanism. It provides comfort and a way to relieve stress or anxiety. By licking another dog’s eyes, they might seek to comfort the other dog or even try to comfort themselves.
7. Seeking Attention
Sometimes, dogs might engage in eye licking simply to get Attention from the other dog or their human observers. If they have learned that this behavior earns them Attention, whether positive or negative, they might continue doing it.
What Should You Do?
While occasional eye licking can be harmless and is often rooted in natural behaviors, excessive licking can be a concern. Too much licking can lead to eye irritation, infections, or other issues.
- Monitor the Frequency: If it’s an occasional act, it might be part of their bonding. However, consider consulting with a vet if it’s frequent or obsessive.
- Check for Health Issues: If you suspect the licking is health-related, getting your dog checked is essential. Signs of eye problems include redness, discharge, or any noticeable discomfort.
- Distraction Techniques: If you believe your dog is licking for Attention or out of boredom, try to redirect their Attention to toys, play, or training.
- Consult a Behaviorist: If the behavior becomes problematic or you’re unsure about its root cause, seeking advice from a canine behaviorist can provide solutions tailored to your dog’s situation.
Dogs have unique ways of communicating, bonding, and expressing themselves. While eye licking can seem peculiar, understanding its root causes offers a fascinating glimpse into the intricate world of canine behavior. Always ensure your dog’s health and safety, but remember to cherish and appreciate the beautiful complexities that make dogs such endearing companions.