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But much as barking can be, licking is also a multi-faceted tool that seems to play many roles in canine behavior and, consequently, tends towards many different interpretations.
Licking can play a role in the solicitation of resources, as when pups lick their mothers as a precursor to feeding or when lower-ranking pack members lick their superiors in the hopes of an invitation to dine on communal prey. Extreme licking tends to be defined not so much by the dog as it is by the human beholder of the behavior.
All dog owners observing this behavior are encouraged to seek out the assistance of a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist for assistance.
Get your dog to the vet as soon as possible; the less time she has to repeat this behavior, the better the outlook might be for treatment. Allergic skin disease is the most common reason why canines lick and chew their feet on a chronic basis. Many dogs who lick and chew their feet over long periods of time will also do so because it apparently feels good to them.


Regardless of the cause, if you notice that your dog is licking or chewing his paws, seek veterinary advice, especially since most of these cases are treatable if addressed by a professional early. The bottom line is that most of the time, dogs will lick their people as a sign of affection.
Dogs learn that when they lick their owners they get more attention, so they come to incorporate licking into more and more of their daily behaviors.
Dogs who suffer certain types of obsessive-compulsive behaviors may manifest these as excessive licking.
There are various reasons your dog may be licking the air, but the fact that she does it for long periods of time is suggestive of a possible compulsive disorder. Honestly assess the amount of exercise, mental stimulation and interaction your dog gets on a daily basis, as well as any training or punishment that is used in your home. Your veterinarian will perform a full physical exam to look for medical causes of the licking.


In some cases, dogs will gently but insistently lick one or both paws, but other canines will go so far as to chew on their toes, which can be disconcerting for any pet owner. In these cases, the feet (especially of light-colored dogs) will often look stained a pink or rusty color, which is the result of chronic contact with porphyrin pigments found in saliva.
Some dogs only perform repetitive behaviors around humans, because those behaviors have become conditioned responses.



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