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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2013, 08:20 AM Thread Starter
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Licking Everything - What Does It Mean?

First, just want to say how happy I am that I found this forum - a wealth of information! My pup, Archie, is almost 10 months old. He is constantly licking - people, his paws, his back, etc. He has been doing this since we got him, which was only 2 months ago. Last week he was neutered and came home with an Elizabethan collar. Sometimes he will even start licking the inside of his cone! I am not sure why this is happening or how to discourage this. I am wondering if he could have allergies - he also scratches behind his ears a lot, or possible anxiety. Last night when I was sitting with him, I gave him a stuffed toy, which he mouthed and then started licking. Any thoughts would be appreciated!
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2013, 10:14 AM
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If it were just licking his body, I'd think allergies, but since he licks other things too, my guess is that it is either anxiety, stress or habit. (and the habit could have started as anxiety or stress) Scratching behind their ears can be a sign of stress too. Kodi used to do it during the warm-up at trials when he was younger.

Sine you got him as an older puppy, and have only had him two months, it may very well be stress of not having fully settled in. I would check with the vet to make sure about any possible allergies, but I would also work really hard to distract/redirect him any time you see him licking... anything.

Personally, I'm not fond of a lot of "dog licking", so have never encouraged that behavior in Kodi. So he doesn't lick people almost ever... sometimes a TINY single lick of a finger tip. But whether you care about him licking people or not, you REALLY have to get a handle on him licking himself. This can become obsessive behavior in dogs, and leads to hot spots and other skin problems if they do it too much.


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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2013, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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Krandall, thank you for your response. I am thinking it may be stress/anxiety because his licking increases when I am combing and brushing him. What would be a good chew toy to distract him when being groomed? My vet does not want me to give him bully sticks, greenies, nylabones.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2013, 12:47 PM
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Krandall, thank you for your response. I am thinking it may be stress/anxiety because his licking increases when I am combing and brushing him. What would be a good chew toy to distract him when being groomed? My vet does not want me to give him bully sticks, greenies, nylabones.
A good thing to chew on would be to put something yummy in a kong.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2013, 02:38 PM
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but I would also work really hard to distract/redirect him any time you see him licking... anything. Krandall

I agree with Karen's statement. We just lost our 15+ year old Cardigan Corgi, Dewey. He developed this obsession with licking as a young dog and would lick constantly - the floor, rugs, dog bed, toys, the sofa, us if permitted- hours on end. He had "personality" that tended toward anxiousness and developed this licking behavior as a coping mechanism. When he was a young dog, we were raising children and constantly coming and going and didn't put enough effort into distracting Dewey from this licking behavior. It soon became ingrained and when children grew up and the house got quieter there was no training out of this long established behavior. If I had a chance to raise Dewey again I would work diligently at distracting him from licking so the licking behavior didn't become a habit.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2013, 02:58 PM
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Krandall, thank you for your response. I am thinking it may be stress/anxiety because his licking increases when I am combing and brushing him. What would be a good chew toy to distract him when being groomed? My vet does not want me to give him bully sticks, greenies, nylabones.
An important thing to note is that certain licking, like during grooming, is actually an appeasement behavior sort of like what puppies do to adult dogs. They are saying, look at me licking, i am so meek and mild, so you can stop what you're doing now because I am not a threat. I used to see this all the time at my old grooming salon, esp during nail clips. Some of the girls thought the dog really liked them, and then wondered why later on the dog got a little squirrely.

See if you can rule out allergies, or maybe he has them, and you could also work with a trainer to help him cope with his anxiety in a different way.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2013, 03:11 PM
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Krandall, thank you for your response. I am thinking it may be stress/anxiety because his licking increases when I am combing and brushing him. What would be a good chew toy to distract him when being groomed? My vet does not want me to give him bully sticks, greenies, nylabones.
I agree with your vet COMPLETELY, having spent $1600 on a partial obstruction in Kodi from a Greenie when he was younger, not to mention his pain and our worry over the whole incident!

A Kong might be a good alternative when you can't be actively working on the problem, but if he were my dog, I'd work with him with a clicker, working to replace all the licking with other, more appropriate behaviors. Some chewing at appropriate times is fine, but THAT can become obsessive too.

If you don't know how to clicker train a dog, I strongly suggest you take a few lessons from a good professional. If that's not possible, you can also learn the basics from any number of YouTube videos, but that doesn't replace the benefit of having an experienced trainer right there, helping you to get your timing right, (sometimes it can feel like there are too many things to handle at the same time when you are learning!) and to see exactly what's going on and help you choose more appropriate behaviors to reinforce.

If it IS caused by stress, a good trainer can also help you figure out ways to de-stress your dog's environment, which may help too. Sometimes, something as simple as crate training them, (using positive training methods... not just by sticking them in a crate and hoping for the best!) and having a crate open available for them to use as a place to retire and rest from the bustle of family life can help.


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2013, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by atsilvers27 View Post
An important thing to note is that certain licking, like during grooming, is actually an appeasement behavior sort of like what puppies do to adult dogs. They are saying, look at me licking, i am so meek and mild, so you can stop what you're doing now because I am not a threat. I used to see this all the time at my old grooming salon, esp during nail clips. Some of the girls thought the dog really liked them, and then wondered why later on the dog got a little squirrely.
Oh, I forgot about that one! This IS a time Kodi will lick hands... "Please don't cut my nails... You KNOW I don't like it!!!" Another thing he does to avoid nails is to "climb" you. It looks, from a human perspective like a "hug", but it's really a dog way of trying to politely say "stop that!"

Just as many people unwittingly "train" dogs to lick faces, because they respond positively because they think it's cute, I have purposely turned Kodi's "hug" behavior into something he does when he's asked. As a result, he likes to do it, and it is very calming for him, either before or after going into the obedience ring. But it didn't start out really MEANING a "hug" or affection. It's just the meaning we've attached to it over time.


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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2013, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Lily528 View Post
First, just want to say how happy I am that I found this forum - a wealth of information! My pup, Archie, is almost 10 months old. He is constantly licking - people, his paws, his back, etc. He has been doing this since we got him, which was only 2 months ago. Last week he was neutered and came home with an Elizabethan collar. Sometimes he will even start licking the inside of his cone! I am not sure why this is happening or how to discourage this. I am wondering if he could have allergies - he also scratches behind his ears a lot, or possible anxiepty. Last night when I was sitting with him, I gave him a stuffed toy, which he mouthed and then started licking. Any thoughts would be appreciated!
Hi, what's his first eight month history.? This almost sounds behavior related. First step is always your vet to rule out any allergy posibilities. If your vet rules out allergies, I would recommend a veteranary behaviorist if one is available. If that's not an option (as they are very few around and very expensive) certainly a qualified trainer who has dealt with compulsive disorders in dogs. Your vet might work in concert with a trainer as usually it involves drugs and behavior modification at the same time.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-27-2013, 07:09 PM Thread Starter
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Dave, Archie's first eight months were with his breeder in her home. He was in a couple of shows and then she decided not to keep him. So he grew up in a home with other dogs and puppies. He is now the only dog with me and my husband. I don't know anything about dog behaviorists, and would want to know more about this field. Are they credentialed? I wouldn't want to go to anyone who has just decided to call them self a behaviorist. I would also like to try some of the suggestions to distract him when he licks.
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