Dogs and Habitual Licking
A ‘licky’ dog can sometimes be a bit annoying, even if he or she has the best personality in the world. A licking habit can be disturbing for pet owners and guests, and constant licking is not good for the dog either. While licking may just be a habit that a dog develops over time, in some cases constant licking can be a sign of extreme boredom or mental problems.
Causes of Excessive Licking
Constant, excessive licking is annoying to pet owners and can be potentially harmful to the dog. Some licking habits are just that - habits. Other times, excessive licking is an indication that the dog has psychological issues that need to be addressed.
- Submission - Dogs have a sense of taste that is hundreds of times greater than the sense of taste in human beings, and every dog uses their tongue from time to time to taste a questionable or interesting object. In most cases the question that needs to be answered is whether or not the object is edible. Licking is also a submissive gesture, and your dog may lick you from time to time as an expression of affection and submissiveness. For some dogs, constant licking develops out of this natural habit of occasional licking to test objects and communicate with their owner.
- Boredom - Continual licking in dogs may also develop as a result of extreme boredom. Not unlike chewing one’s nails or biting one’s lips, constant licking may occur if a dog has nothing better to do. If the dog is not provided with a more interesting environment, the constant licking can lead to sores on the dog’s skin or health problems if the dog is constantly licking inedible materials.
- Psychological Issues - For some dogs, continual licking is a result of mental problems that were either inherited or which developed at some point in the dog’s life. Dogs that are especially nervous, or fearful due to bad experiences in the past, may constantly lick as a way of soothing themselves. Inherited mental disorders, such as obsessive compulsive disorder, can also cause a dog to constantly lick.
If your dog likes to lick, there are things that you can do to help your dog break the habit; if a mental problem has caused the licking, there are prescription medications that may help your dog with this condition.
Preventing Your Dog from Licking
A licking habit in a dog can be hard to break, but there are things that you can do to help your dog from developing this habit in the first place. If your dog has already developed a licking habit, there are measures that you can take to help your dog break this habit fast.
A licking habit can sometimes develop as a result of a dog’s natural tendency to lick in order to taste an object or show affection to a human or animal friend. Constant licking can also develop if your dog is not in a stimulating environment.
If you notice that your dog is developing a licking habit, you will need to redirect your dog’s attention. Make sure that your dog has plenty of chewies and toys to play with, and try to increase your dog’s physical activities. When you see your dog licking, or your dog is trying to constantly lick you, give your dog something else to do immediately to prevent a licking habit from forming.
If your dog seems to have a tendency to constantly lick itself, or a specific object, you can break this habit and prevent future licking tendencies by using lick repellents. A lick repellent can be a hot sauce or pepper sauce that you spray on objects your dog likes to lick. If your dog has a habit of licking its paws or other areas, then apply the lick repellent to these areas as well. Always dilute the hot sauce or pepper with water so that you do not burn your dog’s skin or tongue. You can also purchase over the counter lick repellent sprays that contain a bitter apple taste which dogs find particularly unpleasant.