Sometimes, dog behavior can truly baffle you. Nothing might be as surprising—or disgusting—as seeing your dog lick another dog's butt. Perhaps one of your dogs licks the other's butt, or your dog is licking butts on doggy play dates, in doggy day care, or at the dog park.
Though it's not 100% clear why dogs sometimes lick other dogs' butts, it's likely related to why they lick their own. Learning why this dog behavior is happening will help you learn how to put a stop to it and get your dog healthy in no time.
Problems with the anal glands
Dogs have anal glands, also known as scent glands, that are on each side of their rectum. These scent glands are a method for a dog to mark his territory to other dogs. Sometimes, they can become infected or impacted, leading your pup to try to exhibit some funky dog behavior to try and feel more comfortable.
Sometimes, anal gland problems will be a one-time issue, but for dogs with certain medical issues, they can be recurring. For example, if your dog is overweight, has environmental allergies, has hypothyroidism, has food allergies, or has chronic skin infections along with yeast and/or bacteria, then he is going to be more susceptible to impacted or infected anal glands.
Along with scooting across the floor, letting off a bad smell, and fixating on the anal area, your dog may lick his own butt. If he is licking it frequently and can't seem to stop himself, then that is a sign there is an issue. Either the anal glands are hurting him, or the area is leaking and he is licking up the fluid.
If you notice that your dog is licking your other dog's anus, then the dog being licked may have anal gland problems you need to address. Look out for the aforementioned dog behavior, examine if there is any fluid coming out of your dog, and see if there is a fishy and/or bad smell coming from your pup.
Pheromones and information gathering
It's normal for dogs to sniff one another's genitals and butts when they first meet. Your dog is smelling another dog's pheromones and collecting information on how old the other dog is, the gender, the age, and the dog's health.
However, sniffing and licking can occasionally veer into "obsessive" territory. If your dog won't stop licking other dogs' genitals and/or butts, that could indicate that your dog is obsessed with licking. This is a dog behavior you'll want to curb as soon as possible, because there are dangers associated with it (covered in the next paragraph).
Dangers of licking other dogs’ butts
If your dog is licking another dog's butt at the dog park or otherwise out in public, the dog being licked could get angry and growl at or even attack your dog. You never know how a dog is going to react to being licked, and you don't want your pup to get injured because of his licking habit.
Also, when your dog licks another dog's butt, he may be ingesting fecal matter, which is not healthy for your dog. Perhaps he eats poop otherwise; this is a sign of a more serious health issue. When dogs eat poop, it can signal that your dog is being underfed, he has worms, he is lacking in certain enzymes, and he is not getting a nutritious diet. If he is licking for the taste of poop, he could be experiencing any one of these medical issues or something worse, like diabetes or Cushing's syndrome.
To stop your dog from eating fecal matter, your veterinarian may suggest changing your dog's diet, making sure he has enough exercise and play time, and training him so that he is discouraged from licking other dogs' butts.
If you notice that your dog is licking another dog's butt, then under no circumstances should you let him lick you and your family members. This is especially pertinent if he likes to lick your face. You don't want any anal gland secretions or fecal matter on you as well.
Training your dog to stop licking other dogs’ butts
Learning the root of the problem is the first step in helping your pup. For example, if he is licking obsessively, then you need to determine what is stressing him out and how to calm him down. It could involve talking to him in a quiet voice, giving him his favorite toy or calming chews, and making sure he gets out his energy at play time or on a walk.
If your dog is licking another dog's butt to taste the fecal matter, then your vet will give you some guidance or how to treat this dog behavior. If one of your dogs has anal gland issues, you'll know it because of how he smells and behaves. Perhaps treating your dogs' anal gland issues will get your other dog to stop licking him.
When training, remember to always reward good behavior instead of punishing him for bad behavior. This has been proven to not be effective, and your dog will just hide the behavior from you.
Though our dogs do all sorts of weird things, there are ways to fix this behavior and get them to act in a healthy manner. With some training, positive reinforcement, and consultation with a vet, you can get your dog to stop licking other dogs' butts.