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Why Does My Dog Always Lick Me?

Dog LickingEver wonder why your dog licks you? Everyone knows that dogs lick to show love and affection to their owners, but what else can it mean?

In this article, we are going to go over the general concept of licking, some reasons why dogs lick, what constitutes as excessive licking, what you can do to prevent excessive licking, and more. So lick the tips of your fingers, because this article is a real page turner!

Why Do Dogs Lick?

Puppies pick up licking as a natural instinct from their mother. When a mother licks her pups, the pups will lick back as a sign of love and affection towards her. It's also known that mother dogs will lick their pups to clean them, sooth them when they're anxious, and encourge them to perform actions that they may otherwise not know to do.

Puppies will also lick their littermates for grooming, social interactions, and to express themselves, which translates to why they might lick us.

Dogs and puppies alike also use their tongues to explore the world around them. Since we generally pet dogs with our hands, they will use their tongues to greet us back.

Reasons Why Dogs Lick

Similar to barking, dogs licking is a way to communicate with you. As they can't tell us what they want, they have to use other forms of communication to tell us how they’re feeling. Dogs also lick when they want to express affection towards a loved one, like their mother had done to them.

Dogs also lick because they like the taste of your skin, or at least what's on your skin. This may be for several reasons including leftover traces of food, different scents,lotions you may use, or from salt that your skin secretes. Dogs that smell new scents will sniff you but also lick you because this gives them a lot of information about where you've been.

Here is a short list of reasons why your dog keeps licking you:

  • Dogs tend to lick to get your attention, whether they want your attention for food, if they have to go potty, or if they just want to get petted.
  • As we mentioned before, because we might taste good! Dogs won't miss the opportunity to lap up something delicious, even if it's own our skin!
  • Licking may also be a way of the dog trying to play. This may be that the dog is substituting the use of their tongue rather than their teeth to play with you, which is much appreciated.
  • Just like cats, dogs lick themselves to maintain their hygiene. Dogs will often groom themselves and their loved ones to stay clean.
  • While we all may have suspected this, according to a study in highlighted in the journal Animal Cognition, dogs will lick and nuzzle to show empathy to a human who's distressed.
  • If they your dog has a wound, they will tend to lick it to aid in recovery. There are enzymes in a dog's saliva that help gets rid of bacteria. Licking too much on a wound, however, can result in the wound re-opening, so this is something you'll have to keep an eye on.

When Licking Becomes A Problem

Licking humans is typically only defined as a problem when the owner decides it is. Some owners, even just a couple of small licks, can be considered extreme licking. It is in a dog's nature that they lick, however, dogs can be trained to stop. You can try too redirect the behavior yourself or get help from a veterinary behaviorist or certified dog trainer who can help you in this process.

Excessive licking can be a symptom from a number of issues. These can be because:

  • They have increased anxiety.
  • Something in their life changed which they aren't comfortable with.
  • They might have an allergy.
  • It could be that they have an ingury or that they're joints are feeling arthritic.
  • They're not getting the attention or exercise they need causing them to be bored.

If the stressor has been bothering the dog long enough, they may develop an obsessive compulsive disorder. This could cause extreme amounts of licking and has even lead to cases where the dog's tongue has developed sores or bald patches on their fur.

What Can You Do About Excessive Licking?

There are a number of things that you can do to reduce the amount of licking a dog does. Thise includes:

  • Negatively reinforce the behavior by removing yourself from the situation. The dog usually will want your attention, and if they learn that excessive licking reduces attention, they'll eventually make the connection and reduce how much licking they do.
  • You could divert their attention to something else. Try playing fetch outside, going for a walk, or giving them a food puzzle to keep their minds occupied.
  • It could be an irrisistable flavor on your skin, which may indicate that it's a good time for you to take more frequent showers or reduce/change the types of lotion you use.
  • In conjunction with the negative reinforcement from above, give your dog lots of praise and affection when they exhibit the behavior you desire from them.
  • Be proactive and consistant.

However, if your dog is exercising excessive licking, then you need to monitor the behavior closely, especially if they lick themselves in one area a lot, this could be pointing to a health problem that otherwise wouldn't be recognized. Our dog health services can help your dog with extreme licking, which in the end will make not only you happy but your dog as well.

Conclusion

As a reminder, not all licking is bad! It's very natural for your dog to give you licks! It's in their instinct

Keep in mind that they're your friend, and if you ever feel that their licking is becoming excessive, you may want to try some of the diversion ideas we talked about earlier. Just don't be shy about bringing it up to your veterinarian, they'll be able to help you and your pup out!

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The Right Way to Give Your Dog a Treat

How to Give Your Dog a Treat

Whether you are using dog treats for training, encouraging good behavior, or just because you want to treat your dog to something special, everyone loves to give their dog a treat. Although giving your canine friend a treat is fun and rewarding for both you and him, as a pet owner, keep in mind that there are right and wrong ways to give your special companion a treat. Read our article here for information on how to give your dog a treat - the right way.

Right & Wrong Ways to Give Your Dog a Treat

Dog Treat


The Wrong Way

One of the most common ways of giving a dog a treat is by holding it way high up in the air.

Giving treats using this method encourages your dog to stand on his back legs or jump in order to get it. While this may be fun and entertaining, there could be some negative consequences that come with it. There is a chance that when trying to jump and grab the treat out of your hand the dog may accidentally nip your finger. Although this may alarm you, this doesn't happen on purpose. Nevertheless, a dog nip or bite can be painful and may cause bleeding, and in serious cases, stitching. If you give treats this way, you should reconsider how you give your dog a treat because dogs have less control and vision of their teeth when they are jumping to grab a treat.

In addition, another negative to this approach is that you may be inadvertently training your dog that behaviors such as jumping are good - in every situation. Keep in mind that encouraging her to jump for a treat may make it harder to control your dog from jumping in other scenarios - like greeting people.

For personal safety and for best behavior, learn more about how to train your dog not to bite.


The Right Way

The best way to give your dog a treat is to hold the treat at the dog's eye level, where he or she doesn't have to jump or snap to get it.

Bring the treat close to your dog's face. If you still have problems with your dog accidentally nipping your finger after doing this, try offering the treat with a flat, open hand and offer it at their chest level. This will keep your fingers away from the treat and prevent accidental nipping.

If you toss your canine friend a treat instead of offering it at chest level, be sure to toss it gently on the floor/ground in front of them. To minimize jumping behavior, don't toss in the air!

To encourage your canine to take treats from you gently, first try offering the treat with a closed fist. Once he or she has started to settle down and gently touches their nose to your fist (stops pawing or nipping to get the treat), then you may open your hand. Every time you give them a treat, repeat this sequence so they understand you expect calm behavior in exchange for a reward. To prevent injury to your hand, especially if you have sensitive/thin skin, you may try offering your dog treats wearing a garden glove.


Tips for Using Treats for Dog Training

1. Don't wait too long to begin training! The moment your dog comes home with you, you will need to begin training him using treats as a reward. Do not wait until he gets older and begins developing bad habits. With young puppies, begin house training and basic commands using treats as soon as possible. As he matures and as you build trust and a connection with your puppy, you will be able to try dog tricks and advanced training.

2. Be sure to train her enough! Dog training using treats is an activity you will need to do routinely - at least two to three times a week. Inconsistent training will confuse your dog. Also, if your dog "sort of" obeys your command, such as only partially lying down when you say "Lie Down" or "Down," do not reward her. Only reward her when she is fully lying down on the floor. Maintaining consistency will encourage her mastery of basic commands, prepare her for more advanced ones, and will ultimately help you and her build a bond of friendship and trust. You will want to revisit the old basics, but be sure to teach her new ones too!

3. Use small treats to train your puppy or young dog. A lot of patience is required on the part of the owner to properly train your puppy, young dog, or even adult dog. We recommend using small, aromatic treats for dog training. Since dog training sessions involve repetition, try breaking up the treats into ten to twenty pieces. Breaking up larger treats into small pieces will allow for plenty of attempts to help you train your puppy or dog. Soft treats will encourage your puppy to eat them quickly and be prepared for the next round.

4. Be sure to teach your dog common words. For example, when teaching them to "Sit," show her the treat, and physically demonstrate the position. Once the puppy understand what "Sit" is and correctly performs the action, be sure to give the treat within a second or two so she recognizes the connection between "Sit" and the treat. Keep the common words short and sweet and use consistent words and tone of voice for quickest learning. Twenty common words include: "Sit," "Down," "Stay," "Watch Me," "Wait," "Come," "Off," "Drop It," "Leave It," "No," "Heel," "Handle Your Business" (or "Go Potty", "Outside"), "Take It," "Bed," "Leash," "Lap," "Speak," "Quiet," "Shake," and "Car."

5. Take into account the breed you have adopted. Don't take a "one-size-fits-all" approach! Dog training can be unique depending on the breed, age, personality, and gender of puppy you have brought home. Additionally, no two dogs are exactly alike. Don't just assume since you've read a book or that you have spoken with a friend that that information or advice is all you need. While there are many training styles available, you will need to take advice from multiple sources and customize a plan that works for the personality and breed of puppy. Also, keep in mind that some breeds are more stubborn than others!

6. Don't just be a treat vending machine! Ensure you have several different types of treats on hand so that they don't lose interest and get bored with the training process. Also, give your puppy verbal praise and a pat on the head when they obey you.


Behavior Factors

There is also a behavior factor that comes into play when giving your dog treats. When you give your dog a treat, you are rewarding her for whatever she was doing before the treat was given. For example, if you tell your dog to fetch and she brings the stick back to you, giving her a treat will teach her that retrieving the stick means getting a treat.

On the flip side, don't give your dog a treat just to distract him from doing something. Giving your dog a treat when he is pawing at you or barking will just teach your dog that those actions mean reward and your dog will continue to do that more and more. Instead, only reward your dog when they deserve it and when they are showing good behavior. This will further encourage better behavior.


What Types of Dog Treats Should I Get For My Dog?

You will want to search for dog treats with nutritional or dental benefits. Always consult your veterinarian when making changes to your dog or puppy's diet or treat choice! As you shop, go with your veterinarian's recommendations. Check the labels and opt for the ones with added nutrients and dental benefits.

Hard chew treats will help to lessen tartar buildup and subsequent oral disease. For dogs who love chewing, you can purchase knotted rawhides or pork hide treats (to prevent your canine from chewing your belongings). To prevent weight gain, you can try feeding them healthy veggie options like carrots, broccoli, and green beans (possibly with a bit of peanut butter)!


How Many Dog Treats Should You Give Your Dog?

How many dog treats should I give my dog? This is a common question. We recommend giving him treats in multiple smaller pieces. This will usually work better when teaching your dog, rather than just giving your dog one large treat. This way, you are able reward your dog multiple times before you have to stop giving him treats. Please note that rewarding your dog with too many treats could put him at risk for obesity and stomach upset.

The amount of dog treats will depend on the size, health, age, etc. of your dog. Be sure to consult your veterinarian with clarification, or for any questions or concerns. In general, you will want to limit your dog's treats to approximately 10% of their daily calories.


How Often Should I Give My Dog Treats?

How often should I be giving my dog treats? This is another common question that dog owners have. People also often wonder how often they should reward their dog and how big of a treat to give their dog when rewarding him. Ultimately, this will largely depend on your dog's breed, the size, age, etc. As a general rule of thumb, you will want to limit their treats to approximately 10% of their daily calories.

Some pet owners opt for about a handful of kibble (about 20 to 30 pieces). Others offer their canine friend one biscuit. To help prevent obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, or orthopedic problems, be sure to limit their treats!


How to Give Your Dog a Treat: In Summary

Rewarding your dog can be fun for both yourself and your beloved canine. Just make sure that when you are giving your dog a treat, you are doing it the right way that is safe for both him and you. Always discourage jumping and minimize accidental injury from nips and bites by offering their treats at chest level.

Think about the dog's behavior before giving her a treat and think about ways you can change your tactics in order to better teach your dog. Dog training using treats requires much patience, however, the reward is great, as it will significantly encourage mental stimulation and build trust between you and your canine friend.

How You Can Turn Your Feline Friend Into a Lap Cat

CatHeredity plays a big role in your kitten’s personality. A friendly mother or father usually results in friendly kittens, but you are also a big part in developing your kitten’s personality. Kitten’s between 3 and 7 weeks old who get handled with love and care from humans usually develop a friendly, loving personality. However, if you weren’t a part of your cat’s early life and would like to turn your new feline friend into a lap cat, here are some tips to help you!

  1. Stay calm when you are around your cat. Sudden or aggressive movements around your cat may make him feel threatened or scare him. Move around slowly to help him stay calm and get used to you.

  2. Don’t stare at your cat. Cats usually don’t like it when you stare at them and won’t want to interact with you if you do. Instead, you can slowly blink your eyes at your cat and he will probably do the same, slow blink back. Think of it as a kiss to your cat, but with your eyes!

  3. Pet and rub your cat right away when you get them. Most cats love to be scratched and pet. Spots between the ears or underneath the chin are usually spots where they will love to be scratched. They also love to be pet along their spine. Try to stay away from the belly and the base of your cat’s tail. Touching your cat’s belly may make him feel threatened and cat’s don’t like it when you pick up their odor from their tail glands.

  4. Groom your cat. Cats always like to groom themselves and even others, so why not do it for them! Your cat may love to be brushed slowly and gently, but make sure you watch to see if he is enjoying it before you keep going.

  5. Reward your cat with treats. Give your cat a nice treat any time he comes to snuggle with you on your lap or comes to you for attention. This is sure to bribe him!

Make sure your cat likes the attention that you are giving him. A recent study found that cats can be stressed if you pet them when they don’t want to be pet. Easy signs that your cat wants some attention can be jumping on your lap or rolling over in front of you and showing you an area he wants to have pet or scratched. Be patient and follow these tips and surely your feline friend will turn into a loving lap cat!

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CountrySide Veterinary Services
W3022 Edgewood Trail
Appleton, Wisconsin 54913
CountrySide Veterinary Health
2101 E Evergreen Drive
Appleton, WI 54913