What Does It Mean if a Dog Cleans Another Dog?

You may find it odd that Rascal tends to lick any dog he comes into contact with, but it’s a means of communicating good will to other canines. As long as the dog he’s licking isn’t growling, barking or acting upset, you and the dogs are fine.

Saying Hello

They can't shake hands to greet each other, or hug or even wave. Dogs sniff each other instead. Some even give a little kiss. It's not unusual for a dog to groom another to say hello. During such a greeting, you might see Rascal lick the other dog's muzzle, lips and and ears, according to The Whole Dog Journal website. You may also see wagging, pawing and possibly jumping on or at his new friend.


Dogs clean themselves with their tongues -- from their muzzles all the way down to the tips of their tails. When Rascal finishes up with his own nightly bath, he may mosey over and clean up Benny, your other pooch. Rascal is just trying to help out his four-legged roommate by keeping his coat perfectly tidy. Plus Rascal may get a reward by licking Benny’s face right after dinner, since some small scraps of kibble could be stuck to Benny’s snout.

Relieving Stress

Licking naturally makes dogs feel good. It brings them back to their earliest memories, when mama pooch used to lick them after meals until they fall asleep. So naturally as an adult, your furry comrade continues to lick -- himself, you or even other dogs -- as a way to soothe himself. When his tongue snaps out of his mouth, his brain releases endorphins. These specialized chemicals make him feel happy, helping him get rid of any stress or anxiety.

Acting Submissive

If Rascal is always licking and cleaning Benny while Benny just lies there, Rascal could be showing signs of submission. Often the more subordinate dog in the pack may lick the dominant pups as a friendly submissive gesture, according to Animal Planet. Rascal is just trying to maintain peace and harmony in your home between all pack members.

Being Playful

Your four-legged pal is probably just being playful when he goes around bathing all the dogs at the park. Licking faces in particular, is a part of the play session between pack members, according to Cesar Millan, dog behavioral expert. The dog may also press his chest down to the ground, stick his rear up in the air and wag his tail if he’s inviting another pup to play with him.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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