Why Do Puppies Lick Each Other's Noses?

Observing how puppies communicate with one another is probably one of the most entertaining things you can watch. You may have noticed that when they take breathers from their normally rambunctious behavior, they'll lick each other’s noses. Usually, this adorable behavior is friendly and isn’t anything to worry about. Even so, it's a good idea to watch for signs of aggression and break them apart if need be.

Cleaning Up

If you haven’t already noticed, your puppies are probably highly food motivated. They come running the split second you walk into the kitchen and know the sound the treat bag makes when you shake it. When it comes time to chow down, your pint-size fur balls leave no scrap untouched -- even if that tiny fragment happens to be on another pup. They’ll lick each other’s snouts as a way to clean up and get a taste of that very last crumb. After all, the muzzle area is where crumbs are likely to hide.

Being Playful

Nose licking is sometimes a part of playtime. Watch them interact during play; they’ll bow down, chase each other around and pounce on one another’s tails. When they finally do get a chance to tie each other down, they’ll lick one another’s snouts, necks, bellies and even rear ends. As long as each pup seems comfortable and content, the licking isn’t anything to worry about.

Being a Bully

If the nose licking becomes aggressive, like if Buster forcefully holds down Oscar and makes him stay there during the licking session, it can trigger a fight if Oscar gets agitated. Be wary of a stiff posture, spiked hair along the spine, baring teeth or growling. These signals could let you know that one dog isn’t into the licking session. In this case, it’s best to distract them with a loud noise and give them each something else to play with -- balls, squeaky toys or rubber chew bones should do the trick.

By Melodie Anne Coffman

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References

Caring Hands Humane Society: Body Language of Dogs
Peninsula Humane Society: Dog-Dog Introductions
Toledo Area Human Society: Canine Rivalry
Arizona Humane Society: Understanding Canine Body Language

About the Author
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.