Getting annoyed by Monty’s nonstop licking? Dogs lick for a variety of reasons. Often it stems from puppyhood and lingers into undesirable adult behaviors. Fortunately, you can do several things to discourage the compulsive licking and teach acceptable behaviors, so you and your four-legged buddy can live in peace together.
Monty’s very first memory is being calmed down by mom licking her until she went to sleep. It made her feel happy, safe and secure. Naturally as an adult, she continues to associate licking as something that soothes her. When she licks, her brain releases endorphins, a chemical that makes her happy. When she’s feeling anxious when new people are around or while you’re gone for a while, she’ll lick everything in sight -- including the sofa, dining room chairs and floors -- to soothe herself.
You’re not the neatest person in the kitchen. When you make your morning bagel, hash browns and side of bacon, you probably leave a trail of crumbs behind you. Plus you spill a little more onto the sofa while catching the early news. No wonder Monty spends her morning licking up the floor and any areas you sat on: She gets a treat. Dogs have a very keen sense of smell. Even though she probably picked up that very last morsel hours ago, she can still smell where it was and may continue to go back to the area over and over.
Dogs need lots of mental stimulation. When Monty gets bored, she’ll find ways to entertain herself. She may gnaw on your brand new shoes, chase her tail or walk around sniffing and licking every square inch of the house. Make sure she has a selection of stimulating toys. If she’s super motivated by food, get her hollow rubber toys or balls with compartments where you can hide food. Instead of pouring her kibble in a bowl, stuff it into the toy with a little peanut butter to seal it in. She’ll have to work for her dinner, while unknowingly unleashing some of her pent-up boredom.
Nixing the Behavior
The next time you see Monty licking away, startle her with a quick “eh” sound to get her attention. Put something else in her mouth right away. A chew toy, bone or tennis ball should do the trick. Keeping a food-filled toy on deck can also be helpful. You’ll be able to quickly shove it in her mouth if it’s ready to go. Also, place a few squirts of bitter-tasting spray on the areas she normally licks. These all-natural formulas aren’t harmful; they just make the surface taste bad. Monty will take one lick and run away in disgust. It may take several applications, but she’ll learn quickly that the sofa leg tastes bad.
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