Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other After Fighting?

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Why Do Dogs Lick Each Other After Fighting?

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Like kids, dogs fight over anything and everything. The reasons span from dominance, to fear, and resources.

Sometimes, canines get into fights when there’s no peace in the house or when a new puppy joins the family.

Whatever the reason, no pet parent looks forward to solving dog fights.

Breaking the dogs in the thick of things is hard in itself. If you are not careful, you can get hurt while trying to play peacemaker.

Then there’s bringing the dog together after the fight. That also needs a lot of wisdom and commitment.

So, when you see your pups licking each other after fighting, nothing could beat the feeling. Surely, that must mean peace, at last! It’s the calms after the storm.

To help you make more sense of why your dogs are behaving this way, here is a list of reasons dogs lick each other after fighting.

1. Making Peace

The most probable reason two dogs lick after a fight is to clear the air and make peace.

While dogs get into fights sometimes, they are lovers of peace. In the wild, they live in packs and often try to co-exist with packmates without a ton of drama. They have to always present a united front against the enemy.

When you see one of the pooches licking another, it is their way of saying, “Hey buddy, I am sorry about earlier. I hope we can work past it and remain friends again.”

The party that is doing the licking will approach from the bottom and gently lick the second dog’s mouth and face. She can also raise her paw a little to communicate her commitment to making a truce.

The paw lift is a high-five of sorts—a way to extend an olive branch. If the receiving dog returns the favor with more licking, it means they are willing to forgive as well.

2. A Sign Of Subordination

Apart from saying sorry, dogs lick each other after fighting to show submission.

As pack animals, social order is everything in the canine world. The alpha dog is the leader of the pack and everyone else is expected to submit to them.

To maintain harmony within the pack, the low-ranking pups would lick their seniors. It’s just one of those natural behaviors that seem odd to us but fine with our canine friends. 

When the pack leaders came back home with food, the other pack members would display their happiness by licking the dominant pack members’ mouths. In hindsight, the behavior was also intentional as it could fetch the dogs a scrap or two from the bosses.

In a home setting, the hierarchy plays out as well. If you are firm and dominant enough, your dogs will see you as the alpha. When they are hanging out by themselves, the social order also rings true.

After fighting, one dog can approach another and lick their face as a way of submitting to them. The subordinate party will tuck their tails between their hind legs, go on their back and display the tummy, push the ears down, and avoid looking into the eyes directly. 

She’s simply saying, “You are the boss and I submit to you.” In a way, this is another effort of making peace.

If your dogs fought because of dominance issues, subordination almost always solves it. The high-ranking dog gets an assurance that they are leaders while the other one accepts to be lower in the social ranking.

3. To Bond And Destress

According to Victoria Stilwell, a dog trainer, licking can also help to calm a dog and bond with another. The reason is that the behavior releases endorphins that give both dogs feelings of pleasure.

If you closely observe canines in the wild, packmates are always licking each other even without fighting.

The goal is to develop strong bonds and show affection to one another. As they lick and groom each other, they also sniff each other out to understand each other better.

After a fight, the two dogs will lick each other to move past just what happened and work on strengthening their bond. This is also true when your doggie licks your face.

Even if you don’t enjoy the licking much, don’t seek to stop it. Your sweet furry friend is only looking to bond with you and love you.

4. To Initiate Play

The last probable reason your dogs lick each other after a brawl is because one is inviting another to play with them. What better way to kick aggression and bad feelings out than to engage in a fun activity?

If the licking is accompanied by lowered front legs and a wiggly rear, it is no doubt a move to trigger the other party to come out and play.

Unfortunately, it is not always that the receiving dog will respond positively to the invitation. Sometimes, they are disinterested in being active.

Continuous licking may graduate into aggression if the inviting party annoys the other one with the licking. In such a case, intervene and move the interested dog away for a while.

Final Thoughts

Watching your dogs lick each other is a delightful sight. It also means that the dogs are reading from the same page.

Whether the licking is a sign of peace-making, submission, affection, or an invitation to play, the fact is that it’s a good thing.

You can go about your day knowing your fur babies have put the past behind and are friends again.

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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.