Chronic Licking

Is your dog licking everything in sight? Read on.

By | Posted: Thu Mar 10 00:00:00 PST 2005

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Q. I have a 1-½-year-old Chihuahua mix that weighs 12 pounds and is quite skinny. As far as I can tell, he's healthy, and recently received a clean bill of health from his vet. My pooch has lots of energy, eats and poops normally.

He has just started a new behavior that I'm a little concerned about.  He keeps flicking his tongue out, kind of like a snake. He has also started licking everything including my pants, the couch or whatever, and thirst does not seem to be the issue. 

Dr. Jon GellerA.  A Chihuahua with a snakelike tongue? Your little guy has discovered what many dog owners already know: dogs have very long tongues. I would guess this activity is a behavioral problem, and relatively harmless at that. If it bothers you, you can use some straightforward techniques to discourage this behavior.

You didn't mention your dog's name, so let's call him Cobra. When Cobra starts his tongue flicking, licking behavior, divert him with a treat, and if he stops, reward him with affection. After awhile, you should not have to give a treat. You can also use negative reinforcement in the form of a [water] spray bottle, and give him a couple of brisk face sprays. Don't forget to reward him with affection when he stops.

Do not give additional attention when he does it, however, or he may simply continue doing this for the attention. You are dealing with the equivalent of a 10-year-old child here.

On the other hand, you could probably ignore the behavior and he will probably grow out of it and discover newer, more exciting  ways to entertain his little Chihuahua brain.

And remember, that you may not want him to lick your face, because you never know where a dog has been licking. Actually, the problem is, you do know where he has been licking.

Best,
Jon Geller, DVM

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CC   Duncan, BC

2/25/2011 8:49:04 PM

Steph; Licking paws would likely be a different ball game. I suggest looking under medical conditions for licking paws or search for articles speaking about excessive paw licking as this could very well be caused by an allergy or yeast imbalance which you might not want to leave unchecked.

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Linda   Tualatin, OR

2/5/2011 1:43:34 PM

Good article. We will have to try this. Our Chihuahua/Dachshund mix licks my husband's neck when she sits on his lap - very annoying. She doesn't do this when she sits with
me.

Maybe this is a submissive behavior?

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Steph   New Philadelphia, OH

1/6/2011 11:35:35 AM

This is very interesting. I have a 6month old westie who would excessivly lick his paws, I was going through a november issue of modern dog and saw an advertisment for "anti-lick strips" the product is a natural pet bandage that stops pets from obsessive licking , biting and chewing. I bought them to see if they would work and they did! I would highly reccomend the anti-lickstrip to any pet owner.

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Janet   Bethlehem, PA

12/18/2010 6:37:29 AM

important information, thank you very much

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