We know that dogs lick. But how much is the real question? Dogs lick themselves, their paws, their toys, their human owners, and other dogs. The list is endless. But if you’re one of those who find this uncomfortable or disgusting. Or you think dog spit can give you a bacterial infection.
Excessive licking is a problem, isn’t it? You can’t always have your dog lick your hand or face or other things. It’s a concern that you need to wipe out before it gets too late. Or before it escalates into something else.
Having said that, your dog may be licking you or something as an expression. Meaning she’s trying to tell you something. What could that be?
Why Do Dogs Lick?
This question is as native as asking why dogs bark. However, when asked in the right context, it is helpful. So if your dog is licking way too much, this is probably why.
1. They’re hungry
What is the first thing your dog does when you enter the house? She licks your face right away. You may think she’s doing this out of love. But it’s actually for food. They’re making a request. Your dog will lick you to demand food. Be it they’re hungry or needy or just greedy for more food.
And dogs do this more often with a human owner they’re more attached to. So if your dog doesn’t grow out of this phase, you need to train her.
2. To keep clean
I’ve seen this a thousand times. Humans wash their faces and wipe themselves down with a hand towel. Well, for dogs, they lick themselves to reach the same end. While this is the healthiest and most natural thing for a dog to do. You don’t want this to get out of control.
3. Anxiety or fear
Excessive licking can be a symptom of anxiety or fear.
Dogs tend to lick themselves for hours if they’re stressed out. So they do this to calm themselves down. Be observant of triggers around your home. Any new changes, new family members, etc.
If your dog hears something unusual and starts to lick herself a lot, that means she may be anxious. Social tension is a common phenomenon in dogs. It may be done in isolation or among family members.
This may be directed toward themselves or you. For example, your dog may come to lick your hand or your neck if she’s anxious. This is to calm down and gain more affection which helps them settle.
This may even happen after you’ve yelled at her. If she’s done something wrong like peed on the sofa. She will come to you after a few minutes, feeling the guilt, to calm you down. It’s sweet and a common gesture similar to when a person smiles and sighs. It’s calming and consoling for dogs too.
How to Stop a Dog from Licking?
Now there are many reasons why a dog licks. Be it excessively or naturally. But the solution to excessive licking is generally in the cause itself. Here is how you can stop a dog from licking.
1. Distract her with a toy
The moment you know your dog’s about to lick you or herself, distract distract! This means give her a toy or something challenging to play with. Train her to respond to certain commands like “leave it” or “no” or “get toy.”
An active dog will always get distracted right away. If you’re unable to divert her attention mentally. You must physically move around with your dog to get her moving. Maybe take her out for a walk and reward her when she listens.
With time, she’ll know how to stop.
2. Give her chewing tablets
This is when your dog compulsively licks everything. And by everything I mean her paws, her hair, your face, her toys, etc.
This is a symptom of obsession. Your dog is obsessed with licking. Chewing tablets prescribed by a professional vet may help. They take your dog’s mind off the licking and keep her busy chewing.
One of the main causes of excessive licking is stress. So in stressful situations like thunderstorms or construction, a chewable tablet works wonders. Your dog is less stressed out and you can stay calm and positive. Never yell at a dog for compulsively licking. They may get scared and lick even more.
3. Include more physical activities
Sometimes a dog licks because she’s bored out of her mind. Humans can easily stay at home and distract themselves. But a dog loves to walk and run around. Take your dog out for longer walks, if you can. Or increase the frequency of walks daily.
This will tire your dog healthily. And once she’s home, she’ll be too sleepy or calm to lick herself or you again. Well, she won’t forget to thank you for doing this so expect a lick or two there!
Now you know how to stop a dog from licking. These are all home remedies to get your dog to lick a little less. Licking may be a symptom of anxiety or boredom or any compulsive behavior. To nip it in the bud more effectively, go to a vet.
And if you think you can handle it at home without any medical intervention, do that too. Just make sure you don’t yell or shout or mishandle the dog. You have to remain calm while training your dog. That’s the only way they understand and don’t regress.
Licking is a natural behavior for dogs. They lick to protect, clean and calm themselves. But if it’s licking you that you want to stop, these measures will help. Just make sure you don’t curb your dog’s natural instincts completely.
You can create fun and challenging commands like “give kiss.” The “give kiss” command will encourage a more healthy relationship with your dog. She can give you a kiss (a.k.a. lick you) when you demand it. Not at any inappropriate time that’s not to your liking. In that way, your dog will listen to you and be happy to do so.