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Dog obsessive licking issue

BurtletoyBurtletoy Registered User regular
edited October 2020 in Help / Advice Forum
First, I know the rules, here is my Rotini dog

My dog will obsessively lick things. Normally her paws. Sometimes she just licks the couch or my sheets? This is not pee, it is from licking the bed

When I notice she is doing it, I can get her to stop pretty easily by interrupting her, putting my hand in front of her mouth or getting her attention directed to a food or toy or something. Is there any issues I should be aware of with this behaviour? It doesn't seem particularly harmful, I know the vet has mentioned something about stains on her paws from licking them too much, is this something I need to be more proactive about stopping?

Burtletoy on


  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited October 2020
    It may be an early sign of an allergy.

    Beware of any bald spots, skin breakdown or inflammation.

    dispatch.o on
  • BurtletoyBurtletoy Registered User regular
    I am fairly confident that this behaviour is year round, rather than a reaction to any specific allergy season

  • BetsuniBetsuni UM-R60L Talisker IVRegistered User regular
    It could be an allergy to food, grass, etc. and not generally allergies from pollen. Could also be something your pup has figured out gains her attention and does it now to get your attention. Hard to tell but you could try taking the dog to a Dermatologist and ask.

    Somewhat related, our dog had licked her paw raw and our Vet eventually referred us to a Dermatologist who found out that she has an autoimmune disease that made the lick spot worse (she was really sick before this and the Vet tried everything she could think of). This is something that is an extreme of your position, but the Dermatologist figured things out really quick. We also changed her food since we (the Dermatologist and us) couldn't figure out if that was also exacerbating the situation. But she is all good now (this was years ago when we finally got the solution).

    Steam: betsuni7
  • SoggybiscuitSoggybiscuit 4.5 MV of POWER! Registered User regular
    For a counterpoint, one of my Dachshunds licks her paws as well, but only after shes been outside and only if the grass was wet. Otherwise, she leaves them alone.
    She also obsessively will lick my shoulder after she is done with her paws if I'm not wearing a shirt that covers them. It feels weird, as you can imagine.

    What I'm saying is it could also be an obsessive behavior - dogs can have them too. I would mention it to your vet next time you are there, unless your dog starts having adverse reactions/bald spots/etc.

    Sometimes, dogs do weird things.

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  • SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    Could be an anxiety thing, which shouldn't be too hard to rule out-- does she seem stressed at all? Has this been going on for a long time?

    mts wrote: »
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  • BurtletoyBurtletoy Registered User regular
    She's a rescue and, yeah, she has some stress issues. Like cooking. Or smoke. Or cigarette butt's. Or beeping from fire detectors, or beeping from big trucks going in reverse, or motorcycles back firing, or people knocking on doors, etc.

    That puddle this morning was from when she was sleeping under the covers in my bed this morning. I don't think she is necessarily aware that she is doing it

  • BetsuniBetsuni UM-R60L Talisker IVRegistered User regular
    Burtletoy wrote: »
    She's a rescue and, yeah, she has some stress issues. Like cooking. Or smoke. Or cigarette butt's. Or beeping from fire detectors, or beeping from big trucks going in reverse, or motorcycles back firing, or people knocking on doors, etc.

    That puddle this morning was from when she was sleeping under the covers in my bed this morning. I don't think she is necessarily aware that she is doing it

    Yeah, could be stress/anxiety then which if it is the anxiety then yeah obviously fixing the behavior. Hardest part is you need to see what causes the licking in the first place, which means you need to have a pair of eyes 24/7 or at least a camera to help you out. That is the hardest part.

    Steam: betsuni7
  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    Think of your dog like a PC, and finding the cause of this issue like troubleshooting why your PC won't post. Except instead of swapping the RAM or PSU, you swap the food or the shampoo. You can also ask your vet to run some tests (both physical and behavioral) to rule out certain diseases or issues that might cause this, if you are concerned that you haven't been able to stop the licking via normal training.

    If it's not any of those simple things than it could very well be a larger behavioral/contextual issue, which will take a lot more time to narrow down and address, unfortunately.

    In the interim, there might be special toys or treats that might help to at least give her something to focus on that can handle the constant licking?

    To more directly answer your question - it's only an issue if it causes problems for your dog or your stuff. Like if you have to constantly replace bedding because she licks it into oblivion, or she gets sick or loses hair from constantly licking a certain spot on her body, or things she shouldn't. It sounds like your vet is already noticing something with her paws, so you may want to nip it in the bud now or at least start trying to figure out the root cause since that may take a while.

  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    My parent's dog, when I've dog sat him, when he goes to bed, ends up licking the comforter on the bed. We just attribute it to having a good taste. Sometimes he does get carried away from licking the back of his paw where he had an IV many moons ago from eating chocolate. I don't really think of them as being related to stress, really.
    I guess I don't really think he's nervous, just bored. Just bored so he licks his wrist.
    The advice to distract the dog is valid though. That's how we get him to stop it.

  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Fuck Warren Ellis Registered User regular
    My dog (a westie) does the exact same thing - even leaves small puddles like your dude. The vet said that it could be a sign he was weened off his mother too soon (but he wasn't) but even that isn't a huge concern.
    My dog's licking is a bit worse this time of year due to allergies but he definitely does it year round to some extent.

    Long story short, don't worry about it too much unless you want to go the route of doing some concerted behaviour training.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited October 2020
    My dog growing up was always really skittish. As she got older it got somewhat worse, but hers was definitely a behavior, she definitely didn't understand what she was doing, and she couldn't be distracted by her favorite things. She was a big dog, and in her last few years it was physically difficult to get her to stop, as in we couldn't even easily pull her head away sometimes. We tried the stuff that is supposed to taste repellent, she just licked it right off. If we carefully bandaged them up the bandages would be off in a matter of hours, if that. Diet changes didn't work and allergies were ruled out. It was mostly her front paws, and she licked holes in her skin. Our vet was really old school and didn't believe in medicating for that kind of thing, just told us it was anxiety and there was nothing we could do. In retrospect, some doggy klonopin or whatever would probably have done her wonders.

    She was the sweetest dog, I wish we could have done more for her. It may be worth looking into that.

    For contrast we had another dog who licked her paws and bit her skin all the time, and it turned out she was allergic to everything. She was switched to special food and shampoo and we started shaving her completely all the time, and it mostly went away. I remember the first time we shaved her all of her skin looked red and completely inflamed. It went away but would get bad again if her hair grew by a fraction of an inch.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Our dog did that, and sometimes still does it, but apoquel really helped him.

  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    If the dog is licking furniture and not licking paws raw then it's most likely an obsessive behavior. You can retrain by interrupting the behavior (simple distraction tap) and giving a high value treat for the absence of licking if you're dead set on combating it. You can also substitute licking when you see it by providing a toy. Dogs chewing and licking things is totally normal though and it's a boredom or sensory behavior for them.

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