Why Does My Dog Lick the Air When I Scratch His Butt?

Dogs have funny habits that humans find oh so cute. Sometimes they twitch and bark in their sleep, and other times they stare at us from across the room until we notice them and give them some affection. They are completely reliant on our love and care, and it's no different when it comes to petting and scratching them.

Close-Up Of Dog Licking Nose
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You probably noticed that your pup always appreciates a good scratching, whether it's on his head or his body. He expresses how much he enjoys it by cuddling up to you closer, wagging his tail, and relaxing. You've also noticed that when you scratch his butt, or around the base of his tail, he starts to lick the air.

While it makes you laugh, you also wonder: why is my dog doing this? The following are some possible explanations as to why your dog is behaving this way.

The scratching feels good

When something feels good to your dog, he exhibits adorable behavior. Licking the air is just another one of these behaviors. The base of the tail is one of the "sweet spots" that feels especially wonderful to your dog when you scratch it. If you want to really make him happy, throw in a good scratching underneath the chin, under his collar, on his shoulders, and on his chest as well.

The butt is a hard-to-reach area

In addition to feeling great, your dog loves having his butt scratched because it's a hard-to-reach area. He may be able to chew on his own tail when it itches, rub his butt across the floor, or roll around in the grass to alleviate any discomfort, but in general, it's tough for him to get to that area. When someone finally comes along and scratches it, it's a release for him. He'll be so relieved and happy that he will start licking the air to express his warm feelings.

Spotted mixed breed terrier tail
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The scratching communicates love and companionship

Whenever you pet or scratch your dog, you form a stronger emotional bond with him. Your dog enjoys having physical contact with you because it solidifies your relationship. Scratching his butt is just another form of bonding, and he will feel good and lick the air to show that he is having a great time with you.

When licking the air isn’t a good thing

You may notice that your dog is licking the air when you're scratching his butt, but he doesn't appear to be enjoying it. Sometimes, dogs lick the air when they are stressed out or anxious. If you're scratching his butt and he has a wound there or a painful internal injury, he may lick the air, try to get away, or even growl at you.

Your dog may also lick the air if he is experiencing stomach issues and is about to vomit. Licking the air is a compulsive behavior, too. If he seems stressed or bored, he may lick the air and suck on his toys, zone out, chase his tail, and chew things. It's possible that he has something stuck in his teeth, so go ahead and open his mouth (if he lets you) and check to see that something isn't lodged in there.

Portrait of head Shiba inu Dog, Isolated Black Background
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No matter what, check in with your dog to ensure he feels good. Look for signs that he is relaxed and not anxious whenever you're scratching his butt or other areas of his body. For example, if he's enjoying it, he may close his eyes, put his ears down, and relax his mouth as well. Your goal is for your dog to feel comfortable and happy at all times, and checking in is how you can ensure he's doing just fine.