According to researchers, licking produces endorphins, which soothes the dog as it licks. However some dogs lick excessively. Such excessive licking can indicate that your dog has an underlying health condition. Dogs may also lick excessively due to some behavioral conditions. In order to stop your dog from licking everything, you’ll need to diagnose the root cause of the licking – whether it is medical or behavioral. From there, you may either have to seek medical help or work on behavior modification.
How Long Will It Take to Stop a Dog from Excessive Licking?
Consistent training can stop your dog from excessive licking quickly – within days. However, not all breeds will comprehend and follow such commands in such a short time period. Some breeds may take weeks or even months. Be patient and consistent with your training to expedite the process.
Tools Needed to Stop a Dog from Excessive Licking
You can use various tools to aid you as you try and cut down your dog’s excessive licking:
Why Does Your Dog Lick?
There are various reasons why dogs lick. They lick people, puppies, and things. They also lick the air, known as Flash-Licking. You will also find them licking themselves. They lick inanimate things like walls, furniture, toys, et cetera. Domesticated dogs generally lick to:
- Show Affection: Your dog might lick you excessively to express his affection. You can use thundershirts, calming caps if you are unable to spend time with him.
- Get Attention: Your dog may also lick you to seek the attention he wants from you.
- Show Submission: Dogs also lick to show submission as a defense mechanism.
- Get Resources: Your dog might lick you when he is hungry.
Apart from these, there are medical conditions that make your dog lick excessively. They are:
- Allergies: If your dog’s paws or skin itches due to allergies, your dog will lick the hot spot.
- Underlying pain: Pain from some injuries and arthritis can lead to excessive licking.
- Infections: bacteria and parasites lead to itchy skin, which induces excessive licking to soothe the skin.
- GI Problems: Gastrointestinal issues can also be a cause of excessive licking.
- Hormonal Imbalance: Superficial skin infections can develop if your dog’s body does not produce enough thyroid hormone or produces too much cortisol. You may see bald areas, and your dog may lick as though allergic reactions are bothering him.
Why is Excessive Licking a Problem?
Excessive licking should not be encouraged as it leads to health-related problems including:
Introduction of fungus and bacteria: Compulsive licking the hotspot can introduce bacteria and fungus, which will induce a secondary infection and then become systemic. The wound does not heal if your dog does not stop licking. It turns into a Chronic Hotspot, known as Acral Lick Granulomas.
Organ Damage: Organ damages are expected if the infection keeps on progressing. Parasites and metabolic diseases can cause serious harm to your dog.
Steps to Stop a Dog from Excessive Licking
Given the negative consequences of dog licking, it is crucial to figure out the steps to stop a dog from excessive licking.
Step 1: Rule Out Medical Issues
- Ruling out medical issues are critical to stopping a dog from excessive licking. If your dog’s excessive licking behavior is new, you must visit the vet immediately before trying to train.
Step 2: Curbing Dog’s Licking
- Ignore: If your dog licks you for seeking attention or affection, stop doing what you were doing and walk away. This will curb your dog’s behavior.
- Change your soap/lotion: Your dog might like the scent of your body, which encourages him to lick you excessively. Try unscented body bars or lotions.
- Use citrus skin products: Almost all dogs are distracted by citrus products. You can use citrus skin products to refrain your dog from excessive licking.
Step 3: Train to Divert the Behavior
- Reinforce alternative behavior: Reinforcing a separate, incompatible habit can assist in reducing excessive licking.
As soon as they start licking, start a game of fetch or tug-of-war. This will divert their attention away from licking, and you’ll make it physically impossible for them to lick you when playing with a toy.
You can also trick train your dog to diver his licking behavior.
Whenever your dog licks you, go for a stroll with them. This may train them to lick you whenever they need to leave the house, and it will become less of a habit.
- Exercise: A workout can exhaust your dog to a level where he won’t have the urge to lick you. This will also kill boredom in dogs, which is a reason for excessive licking.
- Reward good behavior: If your dog is licking you because he wants your attention, offer it to them while acting normally. To increase your dog’s association with positive behavior, reward your dog when he acts as desired. This method of rewarding your dog will educate him that calm, “normal” conduct is desired.
- Lick on command: Train your dog to lick on the command. This lowers the excessive licking and also fulfills the desire of your dog.
To begin with, the training, use the term ‘lick’. Keep the term consistent to make it easier for your dog to associate himself with the command. Reward when he licks.
Use the command ‘Off’ or ‘Stop’ to stop him from licking. Reward when he stops licking.
Repeat this procedure until he masters it.
- Be Consistent: You will have to be consistent with the training procedure. Your dog should not get confused.
Treatments for Dog’s Excessive Licking
If your dog has any medical reason causing his excessive licking, it is essential to rule out the issue. Let us see what the treatments for a dog’s excessive licking are:
- Eliminating Parasites: Your veterinarian can prescribe several different flea and tick treatments. To prevent re-infestation, wash your dog’s bed regularly and vacuum your carpeting and upholstered furniture. You must also treat any other animals in your home. Diatomaceous Earth is also used to apply on the dog’s skin to dehydrate the parasite’s outer shell, causing them to die. This application does not harm the dog’s skin.
- Changing Foods: If your dog is licking due to food allergies, removing probable trigger foods such as beef or wheat might help. In this case, your vet may suggest a specific diet. Fatty acid supplements added to your dog’s regular diet can also assist with dry skin concerns and keep his coat healthy.
- Using Medications: Your veterinarian will prescribe topical or synthetic antibiotics, steroids to treat underlying issues that are causing your dog to lick excessively.
- Use of No-Lick Strips: These strips are attached around the dog’s neck to deter him from licking the wounded areas. Vets now are using this to cut down the excessive licking behavior in dogs.
Licking is an instinct dogs learn from their mother. But excessive licking can also be dangerous. It is essential to rule out the medical conditions if any, and then pursue the behavioral changes. End the training on a positive note, without depending on any punishment. This would help your dog stop licking excessively.