Dog Won't Stop Licking & Eating Things

by Melodie Anne Coffman Google
    Replace the bad behavior with something positive.

    Replace the bad behavior with something positive.

    Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

    You adore your canine companion. He's always happy to see you and no matter what kind of day you've had, he'll be able to make you smile. While Buster is undoubtedly a part of your family, his annoying licking and gnawing habit may cause you to become aggravated with him. Spend some time training him. Several little tricks help nix unwanted behaviors.

    Some dogs are compulsive lickers or chewers and no matter what, he'll do it continuously, even if he's sticking up his snout and licking or biting the air. As soon as you see him engaging in this unwanted behavior, distract him, suggests the ASPCA. Give Buster something else to focus on to stop his continuous ritual. Put a chew toy in his mouth. Or if he quickly gets bored with a plain old toy, opt for a food-filled brain teaser type of toy. Cubes with hidden food compartments or hollow rubber toys stuffed with peanut butter give him something appropriate to lick and chew, rather than your furniture. When he makes you happy by playing with his toy instead of gnawing the furniture, praise him and let him know he's being a well-behaved pooch.

    Picture your reaction to licking through Buster's eyes. You're busy making dinner, paying no attention to him, when suddenly you look up and see him picking at his favorite spot on the carpet. Naturally you run over and yell at him, but as soon as you turn your back, there he goes again. Buster got exactly what he wanted: your attention. He'll start to associate ruining the rug with you dropping everything you're doing to come see him. Rather than speeding towards him flailing your arms, walk by casually and when he stops, get him to do a trick. When you see that tongue come out, have him sit or lie down and stay there. Quickly pat him on the head and have a mini party when he does the new behavior. He'll soon learn that sitting or lying down gets attention, not licking and chewing.

    If all else fails, you might have to resort to making things taste bad. Cover the portion of the wall, corner of sofa or any other object he enjoys, with foul-tasting edible toppings. Your area pet store sells bitter sprays that are designed to discourage licking and chewing. These products aren't harmful, they simply give Buster a mouthful of a bitter substance when he takes a lick. Some dogs actually like the flavor of bitter spray, however. Hot sauce is an alternative that has the same benefit. If Buster loves eating shoes, put a piece of tape layered with drops of hot sauce along the toe. When he runs over and shoves the shoe in his mouth, he'll get an unpleasant surprise. Soon he'll figure out that shoes taste bad and he won't want to chew on them anymore.

    Making Buster think that the coffee table leg is scary is a surefire way to get him to stop nibbling on it. Wait for him to head over to his favorite chewing spot and when he's not paying attention, squirt him with a spray bottle or shake a jar of pennies. The water to the face or startling noise distract him and he'll start to think that water or loud noises happen every time he approaches the coffee table. Staying out of sight is important during training. If he sees you standing there spraying him in the face or shaking the jar, he'll associate the unpleasant effects to your presence, not the table.

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    About the Author

    Melodie Anne Coffman has been writing for various online and print publications since 1996, specializing in human and animal nutrition. After receiving her master's degree in food science and human nutrition, she opened up her own nutrition consulting business in the New England area.

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