I have a 3-year-old toy Australian shepherd dog named Gina. She is an absolutely wonderful dog with a few challenges, one in particular that I need some advice on… obsessive licking. She is completely obsessed with licking all the time! My dog licks the air, your arms, your face, in your mouth, other dogs, furniture, herself, etc. She also experiences anxiety and fear and I wonder if the licking may be a result of that. Is there anything that we can do to help control this?
Jeni & Gina
I think you’re correct that the dog problem here is coming from Gina’s anxiety. And it sounds like a very bad case, almost to the point of self-destruction. I have to ask if there is something neurological going on here. My advice for you is this — first, please get her an exam with the vet to rule out any neurological problems. Second, if there are no neurological issues, consider a holistic vet who can perform acupuncture and massage on Gina to help her relax. Third, try water therapy or swimming for dogs. We need to help her soothe the mind before we can even begin to work on her dog obsessive licking behavior. A treadmill may help as well, but you need to take it slow and steady.
Once you work on helping her to relax, and without knowing any other details about your situation, keep this in mind — dog anxiety is usually caused by a lack of exercise or release of energy. In order for Gina to stop her obsessive licking, she needs to be properly exercised and fulfilled. She has become fixated on licking, and you need to help Gina redirect that frustration into dog exercise and ultimately, balance.
You should also take a look at how you have been reacting to the licking. Have you been rewarding her for being a “sweet” dog? Have you been condoning the problem behavior in any way? Is this her call to you for attention? Be sure to only give her the appropriate affection and attention when she is in a calm-submissive state.
Has your dog displayed obsessive behavior? Share it with us in the comments!