For a dog, the tongue is a helpful organ that can be used to taste things, familiarize with a particular surrounding, new animals, or people, and also show compliance.
Whether you find the licking adorable or a nuisance, it is a common behavior regardless of the dog breed. You come home after being at work all day, walk in through the doors, and your dog jumps with joy and licks you all over. It is a sign of affection, of course, and you may not think too much about it. However, excessive licking can be an indication of an underlying behavioral or health issue.
Does the Dog Want More Attention?
Perhaps your dog is simply seeking your undivided attention, and the only way to do so is by licking itself or you. Apart from you, the dog may lick itself, people, furniture, or any other objects. You may not be looking to stop them altogether, but it is imperative that you intervene if the licking is relentless.
Attention-seeking dogs require an adequate amount of physical and mental activities. For more on how much exercise your particular dog needs see here.
If these physical and mental requirements aren’t met, chances are you will find behavioral issues begin to show themselves in them. So, start by taking your dog out more often; perhaps at the dog park or beach. The point is to keep your dog active and entertained enough to alter the behavior of licking.
Is It Health Related?
What you need to point your attention toward is the actual reason behind the licking behavior which can be triggered due to fear or anxiety, bacterial or fungal infection, or pain caused by an object stuck in the flesh. So, first and foremost, have the veterinarian check the dog to nullify any underlying health issue.
Before the visit, write down all the times when the dog starts licking itself or other things. This way, you can explain the vet as to how many times a day your dog has this issue; or the major question, why? If the vet has given a green signal that the licking is not related to any health concern, you can work on stopping the dog from licking excessively on your own.
How to Stop Dog’s Excessive Licking Habit
Basically, it all boils down to your dog’s demeanor at the time they start the licking. Are they idle or bored when it happens? Or perhaps it occurs right after you two come back home after a walk? The idea is to keep an eye on these minute, yet essential, trigger points as it will work in your favor.
Whenever you wish to change or instill any behavioral changes in your dog, it is always a good practice to seek advice and consult with a professional trainer. That way, you know you are following correct and rewarding techniques.
Following are some helpful tips to help your dog from licking excessively.
- We have already discussed giving your dog an ample amount of exercise and mental stimulation every day. If you’re going to be leaving the dog alone at home all day, take them out for a walk or run in the morning. That way, he/she will get tired and not resolve to lick himself on his own. For more ways to prevent boredom when your dog is home alone see here.
- Similar to cats, even dogs like to clean themselves. Perhaps this habit is triggering your dog to go on a full-on licking frenzy. So, after you have come back from a walk, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe their paws, face, eyes, and ears. That way, your dog won’t be interested to do the job by itself.
- Provide as many chew toys as you possibly can. This way, your dog will have something to bite on and forget about licking. See Best chew toys for dogs.
- Ensure that you don’t reward your dog with treats every time they show affection toward you. Now, occasional licking is fine; perhaps something they do after seeing you at the end of the day. However, if the licking occurs at random times, you can try to stop it immediately. The first thing to do is to turn away from your dog. If they are persistent, you can sit somewhere else and not let them get close enough to lick.
- Don’t pay attention to the dog and instead, say No or Stop in an intense manner. Your dog needs to understand that when you say no, it means they have to obey you. Be consistent and don’t give in. Of course, being this stern may be tough on you both. But in the end, it will all be worth it.
- One of the reasons why dogs lick their owners is because they like the taste of salt that often remains on our skin. So, a good way to eliminate the temptation is by applying a little bit of lemon juice on the skin.
- If your dog licks furniture, clothing items, or any other object, change its place so that they can not reach it. This will be a step toward controlling your dog in a way that’s convenient for you. What they need to learn is that you are the boss and will set the tone of what is tolerable, what isn’t.
- As soon as your dog comes to lick you, get up and leave the room and shut the door. Come out of the room after 30 seconds and see if this tactic works. If not, continue the process until he/she gets the message.
We are not asking you to keep your dog away from you at all times. The focus should remain on times when excess licking becomes an intolerable issue and you have to step up to take charge.
In the end, it is all about being consistent with your training and making your dog figure out what types of behavior are acceptable. By making these lifestyle changes, do not think that you are being mean to your dog. In fact, it is just the opposite. You are trying to help them to overcome this issue. Disciplining your dog has nothing to do with how much you love them.