How Do I Make My Dog Stop Licking Everything?
To stop your dog from licking everything requires identifying the reason for the behavior, which can be either medical or behavioral. From there you'll be able to either treat the medical condition or work on behavior modification. It's important not to rule out a visit to the vet—especially if the behavior started suddenly.
Tips for Stopping Excessive Behavioral Licking
Unlike cats who gracefully sit in the sun and silently groom themselves, the sound of a dog's sloppy licking is enough to drive even the most patient pet owners a little crazy.
If your dog is licking everything and your vet has ruled out fleas, allergies, or another medical cause, the reason could be as simple as boredom or because the act calms him. Other dogs lick out of habit, when they are anxious, or, in the case of licking their owners, out of affection. If you'd like to curb this behavior, try:
- Training: So many pet behavior problems can be solved by training your dog to obey the "leave it!" command. Work on this so when you see your dog start to lick, one simple command will put a stop to it.
- Ignoring: Your dog could be licking just for attention. Try ignoring the behavior completely.
- Playtime: If boredom is the cause, extra playtime and daily long walks could be the cure.
- Bitter Spray: If the rest fails, you can try spraying the areas he licks with an unpleasant tasting spray that is designed to stop dogs from chewing and licking. Note that some dogs find some of these sprays to be pleasant, so you might have to try more than one.
Obviously, the above won't work if the reason is medical. Dogs who lick themselves excessively may be dealing with fleas, allergies, parasites, GI issues, or infections. Some dogs lick so much that they lose hair and create hotspots.
If your dog is licking floors, furniture and other objects, another possible medical cause is nausea as the licking can help to soothe that feeling. Once the underlying cause is treated, the behavior will stop pretty quickly.
Whether the cause is medical or behavioral, if your dog is licking to the point that he is damaging his skin, you'll want to see your vet right away. Fortunately, licking isn't usually harmful and it's fairly easy to stop through some trial and error.
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