Pet Sitting Tips For Compulsive Licking in Dogs

January 20, 2015

We have been house sitting in Sydney since we first came to Australia 3 years ago. Our first opportunity came by word of mouth from a recommendation by relatives living in Sydney.  It involved looking after an old labradoodle called Lucy with a tendency to lick herself compulsively while her owners we’re away for any longer than a week. This is how we managed to stop the behavior for our six week Sydney housesit.

Possible reasons for compulsive licking

  • Boredom, stress, depression, under-stimulation – Your dog isn’t finding life stimulating enough and resorts to licking to lift the boredom as well as give itself a quick dopamine fix.
  • Parasites – Check out our other post about looking for fleas on dogs.
  • Attention Seeking – You may be inadvertently giving your dog signals that this behavior is good. e.g., every time it licks, you tell it off.

Possible solutions to compulsive licking

One solution is to place the dog in an Elizabethan collar, (collar of shame) but this for us is always a last resort.

I think the most important thing is trying to work out why your dog is exhibiting this kind of behavior and in our experience its often boredom or lack of exercise. Their will be occasions when over licking is a result of learned behavior, especially in older dogs or as a result of flea bites.

In all our experiences with dog sitting the most important thing is to give the dog regular exercise. As both of us have full time jobs we have to try and fit the dogs exercise into our daily routine. Whatever the psychological reason, dog’s love routine. At the same time each day, we would take turns to take her out first thing in the morning before work, as well as another walk after work when we returned home. On occasion as a treat, we would also would take her out last thing before bedtime as I think dogs love the different smells they encounter at different times of the day, this also keeps their brains active.

Doing this meant she knew when to expect her next walk as well as keeping her well exercised. She would then sleep for a large proportion of the day while we were out.

Another trick I found helped was to leave small treats strategically placed around the house (not under the house owners pillow) which would keep the dog interested for at least a couple of hours during the day. 1 minute to find and eat all the treats and the next 1 hr 50 mins looking for treats that aren’t there!

Other methods I’ve heard of but not tried are:

  • Foul tasting creams – Place on the effected area they taste so bad the dog will stop licking.
  • Treat release dog toys – Use during the day after regular exercise.
  • Dog walking services – Find a local dog walking service to come round during the day.






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