Saturday, May 30, 2009

Excessive Licking in Dogs - What You Need to Know

Are you frustrated with excessive licking in dogs? Although licking is a normal behavior in dogs, it can become one of many bad dog habits. In this article, we'll learn why dogs lick, and what you can do to stop dog licking.

Canine Licking Is A Natural Behavior For Dogs

Licking is a way for dogs to communicate with each other, and with you. In the wild, dogs will lick the pack leader when he returns after an absence. This is a greeting ritual that reinforces the pack social order. Your dog will probably engage in this same greeting ritual when you get up in the morning or return home from work in the evening. You should let your dog lick your hands so he can reassure himself that nothing in his world has changed.

Canine licking is also a way for your pup to express his affection for you. This is how he tells you that he's happy to see you, he loves you, and he wants to be with you. So allow your dog this normal outlet for his affection, but don't let him overdo it, or it can become one of many bad dog habits.

A less desirable reason for excessive licking in dogs is that your dog is anxious or stressed about something. Licking himself or you can become an obsessive behavior. Licking himself too much can lead to hair loss and bald spots. If he licks you too much, a slobbering dog can get old pretty fast. You'll need to do some detective work to figure out why he's anxious.

Your dog could also be licking himself simply because he's itchy due to allergies or dry skin. If he's licking his feet all the time, the pads on his paws may be irritated, especially in the winter months, due to snow, ice, and road salt.

Skin allergies or fleas also cause intense itching, which leads to excessive canine licking. An older dog may be in pain from arthritis. It's always a good idea to take your dog in for a vet check if he seems to be spending licking himself too much.

It's always possible that you've accidentally trained your dog to lick you too much by giving him attention every time he licks you. Your attention is very important to your dog, and he'll do whatever it takes to get it.

How To Stop Dog Licking

If you've ruled out medical or emotional issues, you can quickly stop excessive licking in dogs. Allow your dog to engage in his greeting rituals, but if he overdoes the licking, say "no licking" very firmly and walk away from him. Don't talk to him or even look in his direction for a minute or two. Don't give him any attention at all.

Your slobbering dog will probably probably be very persistent, but you just need to be more persistent. Don't give up, and he'll eventually get the idea.

Need more dog training tips? A good dog behavior course that includes a consultation with an experienced dog trainer, and that has a forum where you can get advice from other dog owners should be your next step.

What are you waiting for? Take the next step now to stop excessive dog licking.

Darlene Norris has worked at a vet clinic and an animal shelter, and has had lots of experience with dogs. If you're dealing with excessive canine licking, visit No More Bad Dogs at to learn about a dog training course that will help to solve your problem.

No comments: