Seeing a dog stooping low to lick the lips of another dog is often viewed as a friendly gesture on the part of the dog. Licking faces and lips is more common among puppies and even some adult dogs.
However, there are limits to face licking in the world of dogs when it comes to socializing. Question is, is face licking appropriate and what does it mean.
Adult dogs allow their young ones a lot of freedom in expressing themselves. Squirming, jumping and face licking are all allowed by matured dogs. As the puppy gets busy doing his/her thing, an adult dog will wait on them.
But as the puppy gets older, they will begin to learn from their elders a more appropriate and calm way of expressing themselves other than face licking. The young puppy sometimes gets spanked when the face licking goes too far.
Having lived in the midst of different breeds of dogs, I have seen face and lip licking of all kinds. This is a natural instinct in puppies, and it is tolerated by the adult dogs. However, go too far with it can spell trouble.
Licking up faces at every snap of the finger is a good way of starting trouble. Dogs are also in the habit of sniffing up their butt as a sign of greeting. While some dogs may consider face licking as a friendly gesture, others get turned off by it.
Luna for instance is a big female dog. When she was younger, she was in the habit of lying on her back, wiggling and licking up faces without a stop. It was quite funny to people.
Whenever she played with other dogs, she would lick them up, leaving them with a spotlessly cleaned mouth. She nearly licked up my freckles one day.
But it got to a point her face licking habit could not be tolerated anymore. While some dogs didn’t have issues with her habit, others were repulsed by it. Funny enough, whenever she was corrected for licking up the face of other dogs, she would fight back.
Makes me wonder why Luna would fight back, if face licking was meant to be a friendly gesture.
Obviously, there is more than meets the eyes when it comes to face licking. Dogs like Luna have another agenda when the get into face licking, which is most probably looking for a playmate.
Some other dogs take to face licking as a way of expressing anxiety. When a dog is too timid to confidently speak up for him/herself, the next viable option is to take to face licking.
So how do you know if face licking act is normal or out of bound? The answer to this is watching the action of the recipient. If the face licker is herding his recipient with his or her tongue, then something isn’t normal.
If is important to redirect the focus of your dog, if you find him or her licking up the face of dogs that would be considered as strangers. Get him/her to be engaged in something more meaningful.
However, giving correction by pulling the dog in question away can only lead to more troubles. Gently call him/her and whirl his favorite toy in the air while instructing him/her to go after it. Other dogs will really appreciate your corrective action
And about that dog that can’t resist licking up your face, the right thing to do is entirely up to you. Personally, I would prefer it if my dog gave me a gentle massage or ear rub, than licking me up.
But if you have no issues with your dog licking up your face, then do not stop him/her when their face licking starts. But if their face licking habit has gone way out of trouble, and is always getting them into trouble with your friends, family or even dogs, then it is about time you took concrete action in putting the habit to a stop.
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