Dog Behavior - Licking

Are you looking for ways to get rid of obsessive dog behavior, licking? Then read this article to understand the reasons behind this behavior, and also how you can train your dog to behave otherwise.
As someone who shares her house, sibling and parent with a dog, I can vouch for the fact that there is something extremely reassuring about having your pooch lick you when you enter the house after a tiring, not-so-good day at work. There may be experts who claim that this constituent feature of dog behavior licking is not an expression of love, but I believe otherwise. There may be several reasons for this dog behavior but there is definitely something affectionate about a dog licking you. In this article on dog behavior - licking, we take a look at the different reasons for dogs licking themselves and others.

Reasons for Your Dog Licking Constantly

One of the integral constituents of dog behavior - licking, is normal in all dogs. Experts often compare the use of tongues by dogs to our use of hands. Licking, depending on the situation can mean several different things. It can be a medium of taste, a way of exploring new things, a way to express affection or even submissiveness. There are many reasons for a dog licking. These reasons are listed below.
  • After a dog gives birth to puppies, she licks them to get themselves out of the postpartum daze and also to get rid of the membrane on the pup so that they can move and also breathe.
  • In the initial days the mother has to lick the pups so that they dispel bodily wastes from the body as it takes a few weeks for the pups to do so themselves.
  • Pups lick their mother's lip when they are hungry so that they can feed on the food that she regurgitates. It is also a means of bonding with their mother and expressing affection.
  • Adult dogs lick each other when they want to express their affection for each other. It is also a sign of the dog submitting.
  • Licking themselves is also a way of dog grooming. By licking, they remove any trace of the food they have eaten and also maintain hygiene.
  • Dogs lick human beings in order to show their submission to you, their affection and may also be a means of begging for food.
How to Stop this Behavior

Licking himself may be a sign that your dog is trying to get your attention and spends too much time alone. In such a case it may be a good idea to spend a specified time with him everyday. In case you work eight hours a day away from home and your dog is alone at home, then either leave him at a dog care center or get a dog sitter to take him for walks some time in the middle of the day. Separation anxiety in dogs is a very common cause of obsessive dog behavior like licking. A dog's excessive licking should be taken seriously. A dog licking paws constantly could mean that he is suffering from some sort of itching in the area and it may be important to take him to the vet. You do not want to be drenched in dog saliva and therefore, it is important that you modify your dog's behavior in case he is licking you only to express his affection for you. In case your dog starts licking you all over whenever you pick him or her up, it is important that you increase the instance of picking him up so that he does not consider it to be a novel situation. Or you can get him to unlearn this behavior by either pretending that you get hurt if he licks you or by applying some sour product to your skin that will break his habit of licking you. Good dog training will ensure that your dog knows when dog behavior like licking is encouraged and when such a behavior will not be tolerated.

In case you want your dog to stop licking you and are looking at correcting dog behavior, it is important that you ensure that he has another outlet to express his affection. Let him shake your hands and rub his tummy when you are happy with him. Re-channeling dog behavior, licking can take time, especially if it is something he has been doing for a while but giving him the right rewards to do so can be a good way of training him otherwise. Some dogs who live in stressful environment have a tendency to lick themselves constantly which can be categorized as a dog licking disorder, which leads to acral lick dermatitis. Dog licking behavior can also be directed towards furniture and the surroundings, which may be a way of expressing anxiety in dogs. In such a situation the dog may need to be given anti-compulsive medication to get rid of dog behavior licking. Hopefully this article on dog behavior, licking has helped you understand the reasons behind this strange dog behavior and also how it can be resolved in your dog. Try the methods given in this article and if that does not work, then consult your vet.
By Tulika Nair
Last Updated: 9/26/2011
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