Understanding the Reasons Behind Older Dogs Licking Puppies


Why does my older dog lick my puppy?

Introduction: Dogs are known for their loving and caring nature, especially when it comes to their puppies. One fascinating behavior that older dogs often exhibit towards puppies is licking. This act of licking can have different meanings and motives, and it offers valuable insight into the intricate social dynamics between dogs. By understanding the reasons behind older dogs licking puppies, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the complex communication and nurturing instincts that dogs possess.

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Bonding and Socialization: Licking is a fundamental way for dogs to bond with one another, and this also applies to the relationship between older dogs and puppies. When an older dog licks a puppy, it is a display of affection and care. It is a gentle way for the older dog to establish a connection and build trust with the younger one. Through licking, the older dog is also helping the puppy develop socially by introducing it to the behavior and interactions commonly seen in a dog pack.

Motherly Instincts: Another essential factor behind older dogs licking puppies is their motherly instincts. Just like a mother dog would lick her own puppies to groom and clean them, older dogs may exhibit similar behavior towards puppies. These older dogs see the puppies as part of their pack and feel a natural need to provide care and cleanliness. Licking helps keep the puppies clean, stimulates their circulation, and encourages healthy grooming habits, just like a mother would.

Establishing Hierarchy and Boundaries: Licking in the context of older dogs and puppies can also serve a purpose in establishing hierarchy and boundaries within the pack. Through licking, the older dog is asserting its dominance and setting the rules for the younger ones. This act helps define the roles and responsibilities within the pack structure and ensures that everyone understands their place. By licking the puppies, the older dog is setting an example and conveying important information about proper behavior and submission.

Conclusion: When older dogs lick puppies, it is a fascinating behavior that serves multiple purposes. It is a way for dogs to bond, show affection, and teach social skills. The motherly instincts of older dogs also come into play, as they groom and care for the young ones as if they were their own. Additionally, licking helps establish hierarchy and boundaries within the pack, ensuring harmony and order. Understanding the reasons behind older dogs licking puppies sheds light on the complex and beautiful world of canine communication and nurturing instincts.

The Importance of Licking in Canine Communication

In the world of canines, licking is an essential form of communication. Dogs use licking as a way to establish and maintain social bonds within their pack. It is a behavior that starts at a young age and continues throughout their lives, serving various purposes.

Bonding and grooming: Licking plays a crucial role in bonding between dogs. When a mother dog licks her puppies, she is not only grooming them but also strengthening their bond. This behavior helps puppies feel secure and loved, fostering a sense of trust and affection within the pack.

Submission and respect: Licking can also be a sign of submission and respect. In a group of dogs, a lower-ranking individual often licks the higher-ranking ones as a gesture of deference. This behavior shows respect and acknowledges the higher social status of the recipient.

Establishing hierarchy: Licking can also be used as a way to establish or reinforce the hierarchical order within a group of dogs. By licking another dog, an individual is acknowledging the higher social ranking of the recipient and accepting their authority.

Stress and appeasement: Licking can also serve as a stress-relieving behavior. In situations where a dog feels anxious or confused, they may resort to licking themselves or others as a way to calm themselves down or show appeasement. This behavior can help diffuse tension and promote social harmony within a group.

Identification and recognition: Dogs have a keen sense of smell, and licking can be a way to gather information and identify other dogs. Each dog has a unique scent, and by licking, they can learn about the individual’s identity, health, and emotional state.

Care and nurturing: Licking can also be a way for dogs to show care and nurturing towards others. Dogs may lick injured or sick pack members to clean and heal wounds, showing empathy and providing comfort.

In summary, licking is a multifunctional behavior in canines. It serves as a means of bonding, communication, submission, stress relief, and care. Understanding this important aspect of canine communication can help us better interpret our dogs’ behaviors and strengthen our relationship with them.

Social Bonding Between Older Dogs and Puppies

When older dogs lick puppies, it serves as a form of social bonding between the two. This behavior is a way for the older dog to express affection and care towards the younger puppy. It helps to establish a positive and nurturing relationship between them.

The act of licking also has a calming effect on both dogs. It releases endorphins in their bodies, creating a sense of relaxation and contentment. This shared experience helps to build trust and strengthens the bond between them.

Older dogs may also lick puppies to teach them proper grooming and hygiene habits. By licking the puppy, the older dog is showing them how to clean themselves and keep their fur clean. It is a way for the older dog to pass on important skills and knowledge to the younger generation.

Licking is not only a means of communication between older dogs and puppies but also a way for them to establish hierarchy and boundaries. The older dog’s role is to guide and protect the puppy, and licking is a way of asserting this role. This helps the puppy understand its place in the pack and learn to respect the older dog’s authority.

In summary, licking between older dogs and puppies is an important aspect of social bonding. It helps to establish a loving and nurturing relationship, teach grooming and hygiene habits, and establish hierarchy and boundaries within the pack. This behavior is a natural and essential part of their communication and connection.

Assisting in Grooming and Hygiene Habits

One reason why older dogs may lick puppies is to assist in their grooming and hygiene habits. Licking is a natural behavior for dogs, and it serves several purposes. In the case of older dogs and puppies, the older dogs may lick the puppies to help keep them clean and groomed.

When puppies are born, they are unable to groom themselves effectively. Their mother is responsible for keeping them clean by licking them. As the puppies grow older, the mother dog may begin to rely on the help of older dogs in the pack to assist with grooming duties.

By licking the puppies, older dogs can help remove dirt, debris, and excess fur from their coats. This helps to keep the puppies’ fur clean and free from mats or tangles. In addition, licking can stimulate blood flow and promote healthy skin and hair growth in the puppies.

The licking behavior from older dogs also serves as a way to bond with the puppies. It is a nurturing and caring behavior that helps strengthen the social bonds within the pack. Through grooming, older dogs can establish and maintain a sense of hierarchy and order within the group.

Overall, the act of older dogs licking puppies plays an important role in assisting in their grooming and hygiene habits. It helps to keep the puppies clean, promotes healthy skin and hair growth, and strengthens the social bonds within the pack. It is a natural behavior that demonstrates care and nurturing within the dog community.


Why do older dogs lick puppies?

Older dogs may lick puppies as a way of grooming them and keeping them clean. Licking is also a form of affection and bonding in dogs, so it can be a way for the older dog to show love and care towards the puppies. Additionally, licking can help stimulate the puppies’ digestive system and encourage them to eliminate waste, similar to how a mother dog would lick her puppies to stimulate them to urinate and defecate.

Is it normal for older dogs to lick puppies excessively?

Excessive licking can sometimes be a sign of an underlying health issue or anxiety in the older dog. While some licking is normal and beneficial, if the older dog is constantly licking the puppies to the point where it becomes obsessive or interferes with the puppies’ well-being, it may be worth consulting with a veterinarian or a professional dog behaviorist to address the issue.

Can puppies get sick from being licked by older dogs?

In general, puppies are more susceptible to infections and diseases than adult dogs, so it is possible for them to get sick from being licked by older dogs. However, the risk of illness from licking is relatively low, especially in a healthy and vaccinated older dog. It is important to ensure that both the older dog and the puppies are up to date on their vaccinations and to keep the living environment clean to minimize the risk of any potential health issues.

What should I do if the older dog’s licking is bothering the puppies?

If the older dog’s licking is causing distress or discomfort to the puppies, it is important to intervene and provide a safe and calm environment for them. You can redirect the older dog’s attention by offering toys or treats, or you can create separate spaces for the puppies where they can have some time away from the older dog. It may also be helpful to consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist to address any underlying issues and to help the older dog and the puppies establish healthy boundaries and interactions.

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