Do you have a male dog who’s been obsessively licking your female dog’s back? Are you wondering why he’s doing it and whether it’s normal or a sign of a health issue?
It can be unsettling to see your dogs engaging in puzzling behaviors, especially when you don’t know the reason behind them.
We outline the reasons why your male dog licks your female dog’s back and what you can do about it.
Here’s why your male dog is licking your female dog's Back
A male dog licking a female dog’s back is commonly a display of affection, grooming, scent recognition, initiation for mating, assertion of dominance, and attention seeking.
Reasons why a male dog may lick a female dog's back
Affection and social bonding
Licking is one of the ways dogs communicate with each other and show affection, respect, and submission.
Social bonding is a natural reason why male dogs may lick female dogs’ backs. Dogs are social animals that form close relationships with other dogs and humans, and use various forms of communication to express their emotions, intentions, and needs.
When a male dog licks a female dog’s back, he may be engaging in a form of social bonding or greeting behavior.
By licking the female dog, the male dog is signaling that he recognizes her as a member of his social group or family, and that he wants to establish or maintain a positive relationship with her.
Licking can also be a way of showing submission or respect, especially if the female dog is older, higher-ranking, or in a position of authority.
Related: Dog licking and restless: Here’s why
Grooming is a natural behavior in dogs that involves using their mouths and tongues to clean, brush, and massage their own bodies and those of other dogs.
Grooming serves various purposes, such as removing dirt, debris, and dead hair, regulating body temperature, and promoting blood circulation and relaxation.
Male dogs may lick female dogs’ backs as a way of cleaning their coats.
Grooming behavior in dogs is often reciprocated, meaning that the female dog may also groom the male dog in return.
This mutual grooming can reinforce social bonding and trust between dogs, and help them establish and maintain their hierarchy and roles within a pack.
Assertion of dominance
Dogs are pack animals and they have a natural instinct to assert dominance. Licking is a way for dogs to show their dominance, and a male dog may lick a female dog’s back in an attempt to assert his dominance over her.
This behavior is more likely to occur if the male dog is not neutered.
Other signs that a male dog is trying to assert dominance include staring, growling, baring his teeth, humping and lifting his leg to urinate.
Initiation for mating
A male dog trying to initiate mating is one of the most common reasons why a male dog may lick a female dog’s back. Preparation for mating through licking is a natural and instinctive behavior in dogs
In the animal kingdom, licking is a common courtship behavior that signals interest, affection, and readiness to mate.
When a male dog is in the presence of a female dog in heat, he may lick her back and genital area as part of his mating ritual.
Dogs are pack animals and they have a natural instinct to seek attention from their pack members. Licking is a way for dogs to show affection, but it can also be a way for them to get attention.
A male dog may lick a female dog’s back in an attempt to get her attention, especially if she is in heat.
If the female dog is receptive to the male dog’s advances, she may lick him back as a way of showing her interest.
However, if the female dog is not interested, she may growl or snap at the male dog to tell him to back off.
Scent recognition is another natural reason why male dogs may lick female dogs’ backs. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell that they use to navigate their environment, detect potential dangers or rewards, and communicate with other dogs.
Every dog has a unique scent that is determined by its genetics, diet, health, and environment, and this scent can reveal a lot of information about the dog’s identity, mood, and status.
When a male dog licks a female dog’s back, he may be trying to pick up and identify her scent. The female dog’s scent can tell the male dog a lot of information about her reproductive status, health, and emotional state, and help him decide whether to approach or avoid her.
Licking can also be a way of exchanging scents between dogs and reinforcing their social bond.
Scent recognition through licking is a natural and healthy behavior in dogs, but it can also be a source of conflict or anxiety in some situations.
For example, if the male dog is not familiar with the female dog’s scent, he may become agitated or aggressive, or if the female dog is in heat, the male dog may become overly interested and persistent in his licking behavior.
Therefore, it’s important to monitor your dogs’ behavior and interactions, and to intervene and redirect their behavior if necessary to prevent any unwanted or harmful consequences.
Should I do something about my male dog licking my female dog's back?
Licking is a natural behavior for dogs, however, excessive licking can be a sign of a problem. Excessive licking of a female dog’s back by a male dog can be a concerning behavior and if left unchecked, it can lead to skin irritation, infection, or even behavioral issues.
Here are some tips on how to address this behavior:
Observe the behavior
The first step is to observe the male dog’s licking behavior and the situation in which it occurs.
Does it happen during the female dog’s heat cycle? Is it accompanied by other signs of sexual behavior or aggression? Or is it a sign of attention seeking?
Understanding the underlying cause can help you develop an effective strategy to address the behavior.
Provide a distraction
If the licking behavior is a sign of sexual frustration or boredom, providing a distraction can redirect the male dog’s attention and energy.
This can include toys, chew bones, or interactive play. Alternatively, you can take the male dog for a walk or run to burn off excess energy.
Training can also help address excessive licking behavior. You can train the male dog to obey commands, such as “stop” or “leave it,” and reward him for following through.
You can also train the male dog to engage in alternative behaviors, such as sitting or lying down, when he feels the urge to lick the female dog.
Deterrents can be effective in stopping unwanted behavior. For example, you can use a taste deterrent, such as bitter apple spray, on the female dog’s back to discourage the male dog from licking.
Alternatively, you can use a physical barrier, such as a crate or baby gate, to separate the dogs when necessary.
Consult a veterinarian or trainer
If the licking behavior persists or becomes problematic or you are concerned about your dog’s licking behavior, consult a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer.
They can provide additional advice and support or behavior modification techniques.