Why Does My Dog Lick My Other Dog’s Eyes

As pet owners, we often observe peculiar behaviors in our dogs that leave us scratching our heads. One such behavior is when a dog licks the eyes of another dog. It may seem strange or even unsettling, but there’s actually a reason behind this behavior. In this article, we will delve into the question, “Why does my dog lick my other dog’s eyes?” and explore the possible explanations for this common canine behavior. Whether you’re a curious pet owner or a fellow animal lover, let’s unravel the mystery together.

The Nature of Canine Licking Behavior

The Purpose of Licking 

Licking is a fundamental behavior in dogs that serves various purposes. It is a form of communication, expression, and social interaction. From the moment they are born, puppies instinctively lick their mother and littermates as a means of bonding and establishing social connections. As dogs grow, licking continues to play a significant role in their lives. It can convey affection, submission, and reassurance. Licking also serves as a grooming behavior, helping to keep themselves and others clean. Furthermore, dogs may lick to seek attention, express excitement, or even alleviate stress. Understanding the purpose behind licking allows us to interpret and respond to our dogs’ behaviors appropriately.

Communication Through Licking

Licking is a primary mode of communication for dogs, and it extends beyond basic social interactions. When a dog licks another dog’s eyes, it can convey a variety of messages. It may be a sign of submission, indicating that one dog recognizes the other as dominant. Licking can also express affection and a desire for social bonding. Additionally, dogs may lick each other’s eyes as a way of seeking attention or showing empathy. It’s important to observe the context and body language accompanying the behavior to better understand the underlying communication.


Eye Licking in Dogs


Normal Dog Behavior or Cause for Concern? 

Many dog owners wonder whether their dog’s behavior of licking another dog’s eyes is normal or a cause for concern. While licking the eyes of other dogs can be a natural behavior, it’s essential to evaluate the context and observe any accompanying signs that may indicate discomfort or distress.

In most cases, dogs engage in eye licking as a part of their social interactions, grooming rituals, or to establish bonds with other dogs. However, if the licking is excessive, accompanied by signs of aggression, fear, or if the dog being licked shows signs of discomfort, it’s important to monitor the situation closely.

If you have concerns about your dog’s behavior, it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog behaviorist. They can assess the situation, provide guidance, and help determine whether any intervention or training is necessary. Remember, every dog is unique, and understanding their individual behavior is crucial for their well-being.

 Possible Reasons for Eye Licking 

There can be several reasons why a dog may lick another dog’s eyes. It’s important to consider these possibilities to better understand the behavior:

  1. Social bonding: Dogs use licking as a way to establish and maintain social bonds with other dogs. It’s a form of communication and can be a sign of affection and acceptance.

  2. Grooming behavior: Dogs have a natural instinct to groom themselves and others. Licking the eyes may be a part of their grooming ritual to keep the area clean or to remove debris.

  3. Seeking attention: Some dogs may lick another dog’s eyes to get attention or seek interaction. It can be a way for them to engage with other dogs and initiate play.

  4. Stress or anxiety: In certain situations, dogs may resort to licking as a self-soothing behavior when they feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. Eye licking could be a manifestation of this underlying emotional state.

  5. Medical issues: Occasionally, excessive eye licking may be a symptom of an underlying medical issue, such as eye irritation, allergies, or infection. If you notice persistent or excessive eye licking, it’s important to consult a veterinarian to rule out any health concerns.

Remember, it’s crucial to assess the overall context, observe the body language of both dogs, and consider any other accompanying behaviors or signs of distress to gain a comprehensive understanding of why a dog may lick another dog’s eyes.

Understanding the Bond Between Dogs


Pack Dynamics and Social Hierarchy 

Understanding pack dynamics and social hierarchy can provide insights into why a dog may lick another dog’s eyes within a group setting. Dogs are pack animals by nature, and they have a complex social structure within their groups. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Dominance and submission: Dogs establish a hierarchy within their pack, with dominant and submissive individuals. Licking the eyes can be a submissive behavior, showing deference to a more dominant dog.

  2. Reinforcing social bonds: Licking can strengthen social bonds between pack members. In a group, dogs may lick each other’s eyes as a way to reinforce their social connection and maintain harmonious relationships.

  3. Respect for seniority: Dogs often show respect for older or more experienced pack members by engaging in submissive behaviors such as licking. Eye licking in this context can be a sign of acknowledging the higher status of an older dog.

  4. Seeking reassurance: Dogs may lick the eyes of another dog to seek reassurance or comfort. This behavior can occur when a subordinate dog feels uncertain or anxious and looks to the more dominant dog for support.

  5. Establishing boundaries: Licking the eyes can also serve as a way to establish boundaries and communicate in a non-threatening manner. Dogs may use this behavior to convey their intentions and avoid potential conflicts within the group.

It’s important to note that pack dynamics and social hierarchy can vary among different groups of dogs and individuals. Each dog’s personality, past experiences, and overall temperament also influence their interactions within the pack.

Affectionate Behaviors Among Dogs 

Dogs are known for their affectionate behaviors, both towards humans and other dogs. When it comes to showing affection towards their fellow canines, there are several common behaviors that dogs engage in. Let’s explore some of these affectionate behaviors among dogs:

  1. Licking: Licking is a common way for dogs to show affection to one another. It’s a behavior that releases endorphins and can be soothing for both the licker and the recipient. Dogs may lick each other’s faces, including the eyes, as a way to express their affection and strengthen their bond.

  2. Tail wagging: A wagging tail is often associated with happiness and friendliness in dogs. When dogs wag their tails while interacting with other dogs, it can indicate their positive feelings and a desire for social connection.

  3. Body contact: Dogs often engage in physical contact as a way to show affection. They may lean against each other, cuddle, or even lie down together. This close proximity helps them feel connected and secure.

  4. Playful behaviors: Playfulness is an important aspect of canine social interactions. Dogs may engage in friendly play with one another, such as chasing, wrestling, or play-biting. These activities not only serve as a form of exercise but also foster social bonds and express affection.

  5. Mutual grooming: Dogs engage in mutual grooming as a way to bond and demonstrate affection. They may lick each other’s fur, particularly around the neck, ears, and back. This grooming behavior helps to strengthen social bonds and maintain cleanliness within the group.

It’s important to note that while these behaviors are generally considered affectionate, individual dogs may have different preferences and comfort levels when it comes to showing and receiving affection. It’s essential to observe and understand each dog’s body language and responses to ensure that interactions remain positive and enjoyable for all involved.

Health Considerations

Eye Health and Hygiene- Eye Irritation or Infection

Eye health and hygiene are crucial aspects of a dog’s overall well-being. When it comes to your dog licking the eyes of another dog, it’s important to consider potential eye irritation or infection. Here are some reasons why dogs may engage in this behavior:

  1. Natural Grooming: Dogs have an instinctual grooming behavior, and licking the eyes of another dog may be a part of their grooming routine. It’s a way for them to help keep the other dog’s face clean, including the area around the eyes.

  2. Tear Stains: Some dog breeds, especially those with prominent eyes or light-colored fur, may develop tear stains. These stains occur due to excessive tearing, which can lead to damp fur around the eyes. Dogs may lick the eyes of their fellow canine to remove these stains.

  3. Eye Discharge: Dogs with eye infections or allergies may experience eye discharge, which can be uncomfortable and irritating. Licking the eyes of another dog may be an attempt to alleviate the discomfort by removing the discharge.

  4. Social Bonding: Dogs use grooming behaviors, including licking, as a way to strengthen social bonds within their pack. Licking another dog’s eyes can be a sign of trust, affection, and acceptance.

While occasional eye licking may be harmless, it’s essential to monitor the behavior and ensure the eye health of both dogs. If you notice any of the following signs, it’s recommended to consult with a veterinarian:

  • Persistent redness or inflammation around the eyes
  • Excessive tearing or discharge
  • Swelling or puffiness
  • Changes in behavior or discomfort
  • Rubbing or scratching the eyes

These signs could indicate an underlying eye irritation, infection, or other eye-related issues. A veterinarian can conduct a thorough examination, provide a proper diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment if necessary.

Maintaining good eye hygiene for your dogs, including regular grooming and keeping the eye area clean, can help prevent potential issues. Additionally, regular veterinary check-ups and addressing any eye-related concerns promptly can contribute to the overall eye health and well-being of your furry companions.

Managing Eye Licking Behavior

Training and Redirecting

If you find your dog consistently licking the eyes of other dogs and you’d like to discourage or redirect this behavior, there are training techniques you can implement. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Interrupt and Redirect: When you notice your dog attempting to lick another dog’s eyes, gently interrupt the behavior by using a cue word or making a noise to get their attention. Immediately redirect their focus to a more appropriate behavior, such as sitting or offering a toy.

  2. Positive Reinforcement: Reward your dog with praise, treats, or affection when they engage in desired behaviors instead of eye licking. This positive reinforcement helps reinforce the behavior you want to see and encourages your dog to repeat it.

  3. Provide Distractions: If your dog has a tendency to lick other dogs’ eyes during certain situations, try providing distractions to redirect their attention. For example, give them a chew toy or engage them in interactive play to keep them occupied.

Consulting a Veterinarian

If you’re concerned about your dog’s eye licking behavior or notice any signs of discomfort or eye issues, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian. They can conduct a thorough examination and determine the underlying cause of the behavior. In some cases, the veterinarian may recommend further tests or refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist for specialized eye care.

A veterinarian can also provide guidance on specific training techniques or behavior modification strategies tailored to your dog’s needs. They will be able to offer professional advice and support to help address the underlying cause and ensure your dog’s eye health and overall well-being.

Remember, every dog is unique, and understanding the reasons behind their behavior is essential for effective training and care. By being proactive and seeking professional advice when needed, you can help ensure the best possible eye health for your furry friend.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

  1. Is it normal for dogs to lick each other’s eyes?
  • Yes, it can be a normal behavior among dogs, especially in social and bonded relationships.
  1. Should I be concerned if my dog licks another dog’s eyes excessively?
  • Excessive eye licking could indicate a problem and should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
  1. How can I prevent my dog from licking other dogs’ eyes?
  • Training and redirecting their attention can help manage the behavior. Consult a professional trainer if needed.
  1. Are there any health risks associated with eye licking?
  • Eye licking can potentially introduce bacteria or cause irritation. Regular eye care and veterinary check-ups are essential.
  1. Can eye licking be a sign of dominance or submission?
  • In some cases, eye licking may be a display of submission or a way to assert dominance within a social hierarchy.
  1. Should I stop my dog from licking my other dog’s eyes?
  • It depends on the context and the individual dogs involved. Monitoring the behavior and consulting a professional can provide guidance.


Understanding why dogs lick each other’s eyes can help us better comprehend their complex social and communication patterns. While this behavior may seem unusual to us, it often stems from natural instincts and social dynamics. However, it’s crucial to be aware of any excessive or concerning eye licking and seek veterinary advice when necessary. By nurturing a safe and healthy environment for our canine companions, we can strengthen their bond and promote their overall well-being.

Note: This blog post contains general information and should not replace professional veterinary advice. If you have specific concerns about your dog’s behavior or health, consult a qualified veterinarian.


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