Why Do Dogs Lick Themselves After Bath

Your dog just had his warm nice bath and as you turn your head to take a look at him, you see him keep licking his coat despite that you had dried him up.

This makes you wonder if you have missed out on anything that he needs, or it’s just a normal behavior for a dog to do self licking after a bath?

There are many reasons why your dog is behaving in this way.

Your dog is licking himself after a bath because he wants to get rid of the unfamiliar scent on his coat. He is having skin irritation due to the new shampoo that you are using on him. His coat is wet, and he is trying to dry up his fur. Licking helps him to calm down as he is tense during the bath.

He Is Trying To Get Rid Of The New Scent On His Coat

Your dog is feeling uneasy after his bath as he finds himself with a new, unfamiliar scent. His usual body scent is gone, and he feels that he has lost his identity.

He is trying to get rid of the new scent on his coat by persistently licking himself and hoping that it will bring back his own unique scent that identifies him as part of the pack member. 

Besides licking himself, you will also probably find him rolling his body over dead animals, mud or soil in your garden right after the bath.

He is doing this in an attempt to mask off the new scent that makes him feel uncomfortable.

This is a very natural thing for your dog to do, and it does not mean he is sick. It is just his way of making his new scent go away!

To avoid this behavior problem, use only unscented dog shampoo in his bath.

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He Is Trying To Ease His Skin Irritation After His Bath

Did you use the right shampoo on your dog? If you are using your baby shampoo on your dog, you are in for a big problem!

Human shampoo should NEVER be used on any dog as the product is manufactured with human’s skin PH value in mind.

The PH level of a human’s skin is between 4.8-6.0 whereas the PH level of a dog coat is between 5.5 to 7.2, which is more alkaline. 

So, human shampoo is definitely not safe for your dog at all. It will be harsh on his skin and can cause his coat allergies, irritation, hair loss and infections.

The safest option is to use a natural dog shampoo that has been formulated for dogs with sensitive skin. 

It should not have any harmful ingredients such as Propylene Glycol, Phthalates or Formaldehyde and contain only natural ingredients that are gentle and safe for your dog’s skin.

It is important to pay attention to your dog’s coat if you are using a NEW shampoo on him. Look out for any red patches or dry skin symptoms.

This could be a sign of an allergic reaction, and you need to stop using this product on your dog immediately.

He Is Trying To Dry Up His Coat

Did you forget to give your dog a dry up after his bath? 

He feels like he is covering himself with water and will be busy shaking and licking himself as an attempt to dry himself up. 

He will keep doing this act till his coat is dry.

You ought to dry up your dog immediately after his bath, because with a wet coat, this will create chills in him and may result in colds and bacterial infections.

You can use a dog hair dryer (which you can easily purchase from any pet store) or simply dry up your dog with a dry towel.

You should never forget this important step, as having a wet coat increases the chances of joint pains, skin problems, yeast and bacterial infections for your dog.

This is especially so for long haired breeds such as Dachshund, Shih-Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier, Pomeranian and Collie who are more susceptible to the development of bacterial infections because of the long coats they have. 

In addition to this consideration, if you have a long haired dog, make sure that you brush or comb his coat at least twice a week to prevent matting, which can lead to bacterial infections.

He Is Trying To Calm Himself After The Bath

This is likely the case that your dog is feeling stress during the bath as he has a phobia of water. 

And by licking his fur after the bath, he tries to calm himself down.

You see, when a dog performs the act of licking, it releases what is known as endorphins (a calming hormone) into his brain. This helps in reducing his anxiety and stress level.

What you can do is to help him overcome his water phobia by slowly exposing him to water over a period of time.

Getting him to be involved in some water games with you will be a good starting point.

Let him see that you are waiting for him in the kiddie pool and hold his favorite treat in your hand to “lure” him to go into the pool.

Remember, never force him into the water. If he really doesn’t want to go in, don’t force him. Wait till he has figured out that it is safe for him to make that move into the pool.

If he wants to stay near you while in the pool, give him lots of praise and attention. This will help him to realize that being near you is a very positive experience.

Just keep working with him on this until he is willing to make his move into the pool to look for you without any treats.

This will help him to get used to the idea of going into the water without any fear and anxiety.

Start with just a few minutes at a time and increase the time as he gets more comfortable.

If you keep working on it, chances are your dog will soon overcome his phobia of water.

Make sure that you are patient enough when you are going through this process, because at first he may be afraid of the water and will try to avoid it.

It may take a few days or even a week or two, but he’ll get the hang of it.

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He Wants To Get Your Attention

Your dog knows that after his bath, you are going to leave him alone, and he is trying to get your attention back to him by performing some acts that he knows will catch your attention.

He wants to make sure that you will notice him and will not leave him alone.

For example, he may be jumping up and down on you, rolling around on the floor, licking his paws, fur or shaking his head etc.

If you are still busy with something else, he will just keep doing what he is doing, waiting for you to notice him and finally give him some attention.

These are some behaviors your dog will exhibit to let you know what he needs from you. 

It is just like a child when they are anxious about being left alone. They know that they need to act up (crying) in order to get their mom’s attention back.

What you need to do is to always plan some activities to keep your dog busy after his bath. This could be some games that he likes to play, such as getting a treat from a KONG toy or solving a puzzle game.

The idea is to make him look forward to these activities after his bath so that he will not misbehave.

He Is Easing The Pain Of His Wounds On His Coat

You may have not noticed that your dog is suffering from a cut or open wounds on his coat, and he is doing his best to ease the pain by licking them after the bath.

This is especially so for long haired breeds as the long and thick fur makes it much more difficult for you to discover any wounds on his coat.

Thus, it is important for you to perform a routine check of your dog’s coat regularly. There are some methods for you to check your dog’s coat for any signs of problems like cuts, open wounds, etc.

1. Visual examination: This is the easiest and simplest way to check for open wounds on your dog’s coat. You can simply look at his coat and see if there are any signs of cuts, open wounds, or sores on his coat.

2. Touch examination: In this case you will gently run your hands over your dog’s body to detect any open wounds. If your dog has any injuries, he will exhibit signs of discomfort when you have touched that area.

3. Smelling examination: If your dog has an infection or wound, he will give off a very strong odor which should be easy for you to detect.

You should perform these examinations on your dog frequently (at least once every week) so that you can catch any problems early. 

It is also a good idea to examine your dog’s coat immediately after he has played in the snow or walked on icy surfaces.

If you do find any open wounds or cuts on your dog’s coat, immediately seek veterinary help because they could lead to serious infection issues.

It’s Just An Instinctual Habit

Just like you have that instinct to touch your nose occasionally for no obvious reason (even when your nose is not itchy), dogs do have their habit of licking their body simply for pleasure.

It’s just a natural way for him to entertain himself and keep his body clean (even though you had just given him a bath).

So, if you notice him doing it, don’t be alarmed. 

Dogs usually lick themselves as part of their grooming routine, or when they are excited, bored, happy or stressed.

But if you see your dog doing this act for more than 5 minutes, then you may need to investigate further (if he is suffering from any emotional disorder) and to take him to see a vet to check for any physical injuries.

He is performing the licking behavior because he is uncomfortable in his current situation.

Dogs are still animals (despite them being more intelligent than other pets) and they can’t “talk” to us about their needs.

So make sure that you know why your dog is licking himself if you find his behavior to be out of the norm.

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