How to Stop a Dog From Licking (5 Good Ideas)
Wet kisses from your dog show that they love you and their tongues are on the job whenever something yummy hits the floor. Your dog can lick for communication or enjoyment; however, excessive licking can be a real issue.
In order to stop a dog from licking, it’s crucial to identify the underlying cause. Licking unnecessarily is a behavior that can be unhealthy for the dog or annoying for the pet parent to deal with. Rest easy though! The tongue can be tamed!
Take some time to understand the underlying cause.
First, take a look at this video, which does a great job of explaining some of the evolutionary reasons a dog might lick and what you can do about obsessive licking:
When does your dog lick? A nice welcome home is much different than repeated licking. Most of the time, licking can be a result of your dog feeling stressed, anxious, or just plain excited.
First, is your dog licking himself or you? This is an important question because these are very different behaviors.
It’s important to contact your veterinarian if your dog is repetitively licking the same body part. It could be itchy skin, bacterial infection or pain on that area. Even worse, licking over and over can cause more damage and pain to the area.
With rescue dogs it may be impossible to know their previous history, and they may have had a traumatic experience that caused them to develop compulsive behavior. For example, dogs in hostile environments can form a compulsive disorder to lick.
However, anxiety can be the culprit of this compulsive behavior as well. Anxiety can happen to any dog, even in the most loving home. Changes to their lifestyle, such as loss of a furry friend, moving to a new home, or having a new baby, can cause a dog to form a number of comfort-driven behaviors, including compulsive licking.
In these cases, your vet (or even a dog behaviorist) can probably help you identify the root cause of your pup's behavioral problem.
But really: talking to a professional can help. Your dog might need medication, or you might need to put in some extra effort to help him relax.
Here are a few steps you can take to try to curb licking at home.
How to stop a dog from licking so much: Idea #1: Exercise!
Sometimes, a dog will lick because he's just got too much energy stored up in his doggy body. It can be hard for a dog who's stuck at home all day. To stop a dog from
licking, extra time outside exploring can go a long way. One solution can be waking up a bit earlier to go on a longer walk and tucker your pup out.
No yard? Put the dog on a treadmill! Soon after, they will be snoozing, far too busy dreaming of chasing squirrels than to lick excessively.
An hour and a half of exercise is the right time to relax your pup, especially an anxious one. Just be sure you do it safely.
Body language is key.
Your dog is in tune with your body language, and you really can help your pooch relax with some simple changes to your own behavior.
For example, some dogs get excited by affection, and too much can cause over-excitement (and bad behavior). If this is the problem, the solution may be as simple as just ignoring your pup until he calms down.
Keep them busy and redirect their behavior.
Here's another great video from a wonderful dog behaviorist that explains how to stop licking by positively redirecting your pup's behavior:
Sometimes your dog might lick because they're bored. Does your dog have enough toys--one’s he enjoys? Keep them out while away from the house so that they don’t have a hard time finding them.
Try using something like a Kong chew toys filled with peanut butter. It takes a lot of time to get all of the yummy food, which means (1) your pup will spend less of their time licking and (2) they'll be pretty mentally exhausted by the time they're done.
Another great way to stop the licking is to train your dog to do new tricks. Already know the basics? Try the fun ones and be creative: roll over, play dead, or even fetch me my beer! This way when the licking starts, say a command to avert their attention.
Most importantly, don’t give up!
It can take a while to train your dog to stop their licking, since it's often their go-to way of showing they love you. You mean the world to them, and sometimes they need to show it right away! Be persistent, be attentive, and be loving, and you will
Want to learn more? Here are some more great resources: