Canine Licking – Why Is Your Dog Licking Everything?

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Are you frustrated with canine licking?  If you have a dog licking everything in sight, including you, herself, and the carpet, you and your dog have a problem.  What causes this odd dog behavior?  And is there any way to stop dog licking?

Why Does A Dog Lick Everything?

Dogs lick for many reasons.  Dogs greet their owners and show their affection for them by licking them.  It’s also a way of showing submission to the pack leader.  This is normal dog behavior. 

But sometimes dogs carry this to an extreme, either licking themselves until they develop bald spots, or engaging in excessive licking in dogs around their owners.  Other dogs lick the carpet, or furniture or other items.  These bad dog habits can be extremely frustrating, and even mystifying.

Any time a dog is licking herself enough to cause a bald spot or even a sore, she needs a trip to the vet.  Many problems can cause excessive canine licking, including fleas, allergies, arthritis, and skin irritations.  The more the dog licks, the more she itches, and the more she licks.  It becomes a vicious cycle, and your dog can develop a lick granuloma as a result. 

If your dog licks her paws after she eats, she could have a food allergy.  Try changing her diet.  Check the first four ingredients, and look for a food that doesn’t have corn or meat by-products as one of them.  Check the protein source, too.  If chicken is listed in the first four ingredients, look for one that has lamb or beef instead.

Once medical causes are ruled out, you can assume it’s a dog behavior problem.

Can You Stop Dog Licking?

Yes, you can, but you may have to play detective to figure out why your dog won’t stop licking.  Often, excessive canine licking is due to anxiety.  The dog is licking herself to make herself feel better about something going on in her life.  It can quickly become obsessive compulsive behavior. 

Try to identify why your dog is anxious.  Is your dog left by herself for long hours every day?  It’s possible that you need to be giving your dog more time and attention. 

Dogs also need at least an hour and a half of rousing exercise every day to use up all their pent-up energy.  If you don’t have this much time to spend with your dog, you may want to consider hiring a dog walker during the day.  

Many owners inadvertently train their dogs to develop bad dog habits.  Be aware of when you give your dog the most attention.  Is it when she’s doing something annoying, like licking herself or you or your furniture?  If so, you’re reinforcing the behavior.  Dogs want your attention and will do whatever it takes to get it. 

Start giving her lots of attention when she’s doing something you like.  When she starts to lick, say “no!” very firmly.  If she’s licking you, turn away and ignore her for a couple of minutes.  If she’s licking the furniture or carpet, redirect her with a toy.  With time and persistence, you can successfully train her to end this bad dog habit.

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