If Biscuit constantly licks his body, other people or inappropriate objects, obsessive behavior might be developing. Dogs lick for a variety of reasons -- Biscuit might be licking to clean himself, or maybe he's bored or trying to cope with anxiety. Various over-the-counter products can combat his undesired licking.
Taste and Smell Aversives
Applying a commercial taste aversive to the area you want Biscuit to stop licking might do the trick. Your dog will dislike the taste, and with consistency, he might prefer not to lick the area again. The unpleasant smell of citronella can also stop your furry friend in his tracks. A remote-control citronella collar gives you the power to stop his undesired licking with a push of a button. When your dog starts licking, press the button so the sudden burst of citronella takes him by surprise. Once he associates his behavior to the unpleasant smell, he'll stop licking.
An Elizabethan collar, also known as an E-collar, restricts your pet companion's access to things he might lick. The collar's cone shape starts behind your dog's ears and extends beyond his mouth. If Biscuit has a wound on his body, the collar restricts him so he can't lick his body. Elizabethan collars come in various sizes and are often attachable to your dog's collar. When using the collar, ensure your dog can still eat and drink from his bowls.
Muzzles and Head Halters
Head halters are often used to stop dogs from barking or biting, but they can also be used to keep excessive licking at bay. This contraption loops around your dog's neck and mouth, and attaches to the leash. When Biscuit is about to cave to his licking urge, pull the leash up so the head halter tightens and closes his mouth. If you're unable to watch your pet companion, a muzzle can also be effective. It restrains his mouth so he can't satisfy his licking fetish.
If Biscuit is bored or stressed, he might resort to licking. When you catch him in the act, redirect his attention. Give him several dog toys to play with to teach him which items are acceptable to chew and lick. When he shows interest in the toys, reward him with treats and praise to reinforce the behavior. For extra temptation, get a hollow chew toy and stuff it with peanut butter. He'll satisfy his urge to lick and get rewarded for licking an appropriate item at the same time.
- Why Dogs Do That: A Collection of Curious Canine Behaviors; Tom Davis
- Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training, Procedures and Protocols; Steven R. Lindsay
- The Humane Society of the United States: Dog Collars
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Head Halter
- Vet On Call; The Editors of Pets: Part of the Family
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.