Dog owners want their dogs to be happy, healthy, and well-behaved. Unfortunately, when dogs lick everything they can get their mouths on, it can be a major annoyance for pet owners everywhere. It’s not always easy to stop this behavior, but there are some steps you can take that may discourage it.
Training Your Dog
If there is one thing you should never do when training your dog, it’s not to train them yourself. Consistency is important when trying to break bad habits like licking inappropriate items, and the only way to make sure that they are consistent is to take part in all their training sessions. You can even start this process when he is a puppy, which will help him learn that it’s wrong to lick things if you aren’t around.
Give Your Dog Something Else To Put In His Mouth
When you catch your dog licking something he isn’t supposed to, give him a treat or his favorite toy to redirect his attention. This treats the issue with negative reinforcement. He won’t learn what he’s doing is bad if instead of you scolding him, you reward him when he doesn’t do it. You can also try giving him an edible chew toy that he has to lick before getting the treat out of the ends. This way will work for some dogs who are food motivated but not all, so be prepared for it not to work too. However, you will not hurt anything by trying this method either, with nothing lost except a few moments of your time.
Get Rid Of The Object
Taking away the item that your dog keeps trying to lick will stop him from doing it. If he isn’t allowed on the furniture, keep him off of it, and if you don’t want him chewing on toys, then don’t give him any. This can be a more drastic step than some pet owners may want to take, but it is extremely effective. If you’re not always home to monitor his behavior or use another method, this might be the best option for you until the problem goes away.
Ignore The Licking
If you want to train your dog not to lick the things he shouldn’t, try ignoring his licking behavior. Dogs are pack animals and are very aware of their position in a group. If you aren’t acknowledging that they are doing something wrong when they lick inappropriate objects, then they won’t know what they’re doing is bad. You also run the risk of them trying out different things in an attempt to get your attention, which is sometimes more dangerous than just letting him have this one thing.
Remember to never scold or punish him for licking items if it’s not bothering anyone else in the home or getting him into trouble in any other way. Punishing a pet only makes them fearful of you, so if it isn’t a big deal, leave it as such and always praise good behavior.
If your dog doesn’t respond well to other items, you can try using some bitter spray on or around the area of interest. This type of spray tastes very nasty, and dogs will quickly learn why they shouldn’t lick it. There are various types of bitter sprays out there, so make sure you get one specifically for discouraging pets from licking. While this method is effective in most cases, it’s best as an emergency measure because it will go away once your dog licks it off or washes with water. If you use bitter spray too often, your dog may start liking the taste, which means you’ll have to switch brands.
Try Using Lemon Juice And Water
If you do not want to purchase bitter spray, there are similar things you can make at home. One home remedy that you can use to keep your pet from licking objects is mixing lemon juice and water. Simply mix two parts lemon juice with three parts water into a small spray bottle. This mixture will make an unattractive taste for your dog to try and lick, sort of like sour candy without the sweetness. You can also try using cayenne pepper or vinegar as another deterrent for excessive licking.
The Elizabeth collar is a cone-shaped device that effectively keeps your dog from licking or chewing on an object. This special collar has been specially designed to stop pets from doing this by blocking their access to the objects they want to lick. The Elizabeth collar forces dogs to circle it rather than instantly stopping them in a place like some other products. It’s also easier for dogs to learn with the Elizabeth collar because it doesn’t cause as much stress as other devices.
Get Them Plenty Of Exercise
Make sure your dog gets about 30 minutes of exercise per day, even if it’s just a short walk around the block. Dogs and other pets that get enough exercise will be more satisfied, and they’ll tend to lay off items that they shouldn’t lick or chew on. Your pet will also be much happier when he doesn’t have excess energy burning up inside him.
Another advantage of giving your pet enough exercise is that it will tire them out, so they’ll sleep better at night. A tired dog won’t be quite as likely to wander around the house in hopes of finding something fun to do, and this makes a big difference when you’re trying to train him not to lick certain objects.
Hire A Behaviorist
Although there are plenty of things you can do on your own to train your pet not to lick or chew on inappropriate items, it can be helpful to hire a professional behaviorist. You might notice some behaviors that you don’t know how to handle, and having someone like this will help you immensely when training your dog. Whether it’s something as simple as getting the right tools or something more complex like making sure you’re doing everything in the proper order, hiring a behaviorist is often worth the money because it’ll make everything go much more smoothly.
If all else fails, it may be time to turn to medications. Some pets can get so obsessive about licking and chewing on things that they won’t even respond well to anything else at first. This is especially common if the behavior has been going on for several months or more, and it will take a lot of time before you start seeing improvement with other methods. Your vet should prescribe an anti-anxiety medication that should be very effective in helping your dog relax while discouraging him from engaging in such behaviors.
Eliminate Stress As Much As Possible
Dogs under a lot of stress have a higher chance of licking and chewing things they shouldn’t. If you can, take steps to improve your dog’s living conditions, so he has less reason to be stressed. This may involve making sure there aren’t loud noises or other animals around him, for example. If you take the time to reduce your pet’s stress as much as possible, it will make it easier for him to alter his behavior toward what he can and cannot lick.
When all else fails, make sure you are patient with your pet. This may be frustrating, but it won’t last forever, especially if you’re consistently training him to do something else instead of licking the object he shouldn’t. Think of ways to keep him busy while you can’t watch him or find different strategies that work for both of you.
There are many steps you can take to stop your dog from licking or chewing on things he shouldn’t. Although some methods are more effective than others, it’s not too difficult to find something that will work for your pet. If you’re having trouble with this behavior, make sure you try these tips first before resorting to professional help or medication. If all else fails, there is no shame in asking for assistance!