Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

Personal protection puppy training
Dogs lick for a number of reasons, some of which are purely biological: Bitches lick their newborn pups to arouse them from their postpartum daze. Dogs, like people, engage in a number of "displacement behaviors" when nervous or stressed, and many of these behaviors involve self-grooming.
Dogs do not experience the stop-go conflict of the traffic lights but they do have their own share of dilemmas. Some sensitive dogs in stressful environments compulsively groom themselves to the point of self-injury. I don't believe dogs express their sometimes quite profound feelings for their owners by licking or "kissing." In fact, I don't believe dogs really "kiss" at all.
Dogs lick us for a number of reasons, the main one usually being that they are looking for attention from their owner. Many people realize that licking is a form of communication for dogs, but you may not know that this instinctual behavior serves some practical purposes as well.
When puppies get older, especially in the wild, they will lick the lips of other dogs to try to get them to regurgitate food for them.
Sometimes a dog will lick things like feet, hands, even woodwork out of nervousness or a compulsion. A modest amount of licking over a short period of time is likely just self comforting -- the same kind of thing as when when you stick your own thumb in your mouth after hitting it with a hammer. If your dog is the pushy type, you will want to teach some manners to control the licking behavior.
Having the same person every month is a big help, because that person knows the kinds of things we need for our dog.
What I like best about Awesome Doggies is the convenience, less stress on Bobcat, having the same groomer for him over the past few years and a groomer who is great with cats and has cats of her own.
The FlavorForget the psychological and instinctive motivations behind hand licking -- some dogs just do it because they like the taste. Pack SubmissionDogs in the wild live in packs, and packs have their own rules and group behaviors. Affection and RelaxationIf you've ever been a nail-biter, you may understand why your dog licks your hands. Compulsive BehaviorSome dogs develop compulsive behaviors because they find them comforting, much in the same way that humans do. Your dog lavishing a sloppy, wet tongue all over you is indeed a sweet thing, but if the behavior gets excessive, it can be frustrating too. If a dog nervously licks your hands, it may just be his way of communicating that he is obedient and subordinate to you. By licking your hand, your doggie may just be giving you a nice grooming -- trying to get you all neat and clean. If your dog licks your hands a lot, it may be he's simply lapping up the natural salt content in your skin. When a dog's hand licking habit seems excessive and perhaps even out of control, it may signify a compulsive behavior pattern, not unlike immoderate barking or tail chasing. Although we may never know, there are several possible explanations for this behavior, not all of which are mutually exclusive. In this situation, licking serves to remove clingy membranes from the pup, freeing him up to move and stimulating him to breathe.
You only have to glance to the side the next time you are stuck at a red light to see what I mean.


For some dogs, it seems that they engage in face licking because they can get away with it and because it gets a rise out of the person. Perhaps some dogs are so awed by their owners that they feel the need to signal their ongoing deference by face licking.
Psychologist BF Skinner immortalized the concept that reward increases the likelihood of a response.
A mother dog licks her puppies to remove the birthing membrane and to stimulate them to nurse. While that's not necessary in domesticated animals, they still perform the same action just by instinct. If your dog has a fixation or seems unable to control his licking, then you might need to see a vet to investigate and address the cause of the problem.
If you are in a situation that is stressing your dog -- if you are applying medication, treating an injury, or subjecting them to something uncomfortable, scary, or that they simply don't like -- your dog's licks may be their way of telling you that they are at the end of their rope. You may get licked enthusiastically when you wake up in the morning, or return home each day. We had taken the corgies to three different groomers and weren't happy with any of them, even the service provided by our vet. After having experienced all the pampering you provide, our minds are at ease and we're thrilled with the experience. Cost became no problem because my pets seemed comfortable with the service, haircuts were fabulous and my time saved with less stress to my pets was immeasurable.
Your dog isn't testing the waters to see if you would make a tasty snack -- he just wants to show you his love and trust while engaging in a simple pleasure. While the pack functions as a whole, there is generally a leader in the pack who has established dominance.
Licking your hands can give your dog a simple sense of satisfaction and stress relief, because it releases endorphins. This has less to do with the release of endorphins than it does the satisfaction of an inexplicable urge, like how a person may feel compelled to pluck his own hair or pick at his own skin.
This doggie doesn't feel dominant over you, and acknowledges that you're the leader in his world.
Your pooch may not necessarily be trying to be loving -- he may just think that your hand has the flavor of a yummy french fry.
Whether a dog is obsessed with licking the walls of your bedroom or your hand, a compulsion may just be responsible. The motivation for face licking appears to vary for different dogs and different circumstances.
The driver next to you will likely be stroking his hair, looking in the mirror, or trying to pick something out from between his teeth.
We vets expect our more anxious patients to begin nervously licking their own lips as they enter the clinic. If the recipient of the licking interprets this behavior as "make-up kisses," that's just fine. When licking is performed for such a reason, it may be component of the "center stage," attention-demanding behavior of dominant dogs. Frequent licking of pawpads is often a sign of allergies, or may be due to an injury or other irritation such as an impacted foxtail.
If the activity that is upsetting the dog continues, a dog that is licking may very well bite.


You may also notice that your dog will lick your hands or face when you are watching TV, trying to work, or otherwise occupied. Once you say, "that's enough" and give the signal, don't pat or otherwise reward your pet until they stop the licking and pushy behavior. His licking behavior may puzzle you as a human, but to dogs, licking hands just makes sense. It isn't unusual, then, for the rest of the dogs in the pack to lick the dominant dog as a sign of submission, trust and obedience. It's the same thing that happens when you bite your nails or exercise -- when your body releases the endorphins, a sense of calm pleasure washes over you. If your dog refuses to stop licking your hands, you may need to consult a canine behaviorist who can determine the root of the behavior -- sometimes dogs develop compulsions as a coping mechanism after past traumas or current unhappiness. A lot of different factors can trigger compulsions in dogs, including extended separation from a beloved caretaker, isolation, insufficient experience with playmates and past physical harm and neglect.
Perhaps the behavior is analogous to some forms of human kissing and thus their interpretation may be close to the truth.
Later as they grow older, she will lick them to check them over, and in the process give a little cleaning up. Hopefully you will recognize that the licking behavior is their last, desperate, polite way of telling you that they are unhappy, and asking you to stop. I didn't want to drop him off at a pet grooming store front since he would have been stressed out by the other pets, mainly dogs. If your dog's hand licking habit seems to be an urge that he cannot help, an appointment with the veterinarian is definitely a smart idea. Whatever the outward expression of compulsive licking, the mechanics underlying the disorder are the same. When a mother dog licks her pups, it looks like motherly love, and it might actually be, but it has practical benefits as well. If you laugh when your dog licks you, it encourages the behavior, because you are rewarding her with a warm, happy sound that gives positive reinforcement. Also, Bobcat doesn't like to be in his carrier and taking him to a groomer would require more time in the carrier and a car ride. In treatment of this condition, first the underlying anxiety must be addressed though, in some cases, it is also necessary to employ anti-compulsive medication to help break the cycle.
If her licks get you to pat her, feed her, or do other good things, you can expect her to repeat the licking behavior in the future. This behavior is a vestige of their wild ancestry and was designed to ensure that they profited from the spoils of the hunt.
Licking their own lips, limbs, and trunk removes traces of the last meal that would otherwise begin to decompose and smell. Quite apart from the hygienic aspects of this behavior, it also serves to keep dogs relatively odor free and thus olfactorily invisible to their prey.



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