My dog won't stop licking!

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One reader is concerned about their five year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel nasty habit of licking everything!

Q: We have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who is five years old; she has a behavioural problem which we can’t control. She is constantly licking my husband’s hands and when she can’t do this she will lick the carpet or floor. How can we stop her as it is a rather annoying habit?

Your Dog reader, East Riding of Yorkshire.

Tamsin says:  Needing to continually lick — whatever the surface — might be a sign of underlying health problems, so the best thing to do would be to book an appointment with your vet so that if there is a medical reason behind this behaviour it can be treated right away. 

Your vet will also be able to refer you to a certified clinical animal behaviourist, who can spend time helping identify what is motivating your dog to do this and then teach her to feel and behave differently. 

There can be many reasons why dogs lick, for example to gain information about things through taste and smell, or to seek attention, and just as with any other behaviour, they will repeat actions that they feel work out well for them in some way. 

The fact that if she is unable to lick your husband’s hand, your dog swaps to licking the carpet instead shows how important doing this is to her so trying to simply stop the habit, without first finding out why she needs to do it, might make her feel anxious or frustrated, and make things worse. Seeking guidance from your vet and then a behaviourist should be reassuring for you and the first step to helping her appropriately.