How do you prevent your dog from anxious licking?

The queen lounges. #pyrrha #germanshepherd #gsd
Who, me? Be gross? I’m a queen!

It’s a weird (maybe gross) topic, but do your dogs ever get a little TOO into licking themselves?

I’ve been noticing lately — maybe because of the stress she’s feeling from our boxed-up, messy house — that Pyrrha is getting too intent on cleaning herself. It hasn’t devolved into obsessive behavior yet, but I certainly want to prevent her from developing a hot spot.

I sprayed some Bitter Apple on the spot she’s been focusing on, and that seemed to deter her for the afternoon. But I worry about what she’s doing when we’re at work.

Have you ever experienced this problem with your pups? What home remedies or treatments have you tried, particularly for those times that you can’t be home to monitor them?


14 thoughts on “How do you prevent your dog from anxious licking?

  1. A change of house and packing is a major stressful event for a dog, especially a sensitive girl like Pyrrha. Her licking does sound stress-related. I would a) install a DAP diffuser in your home and also spray her bedding/places she likes to sleep with DAP about 20 minutes before leaving for work; b) rotate her toys and opt for home-alone type activity toys like the Buster Cube. This is a video of what the Buster Cube looks like: c) make special Pyrrha time each day when you sit quietly with her and give her long, slow strokes down her body to calm her nervous system, d) put a few drops of Rescue Remedy in her water bowl each time you fill it and e) work to establishing a new routine as soon as possible. Good luck!

  2. I second Doggy Mom’s advice. She has made some great suggestions.

    I also wonder if you can protect the part of her body she’s licking until she calms down. For instance, if it’s her belly, perhaps she’d tolerate a t-shirt. You’re right to be worried about hot spots, although with the cooler weather, this probably isn’t a big problem.

  3. I like Pamela’s T-shirt idea. Emmett licks his feet obsessively during allergy season. If we blink for a second, he has his pads completely ripped open. It’s so gross, and he’s gotten a couple infections from it over the years. We’ve taken to putting baby socks over his feet then wrapping it up in athletic tape (that gauzy stuff that doesn’t stick to their fur). Bitter apple just wears off too quickly. When you are there, spritz it with an antiseptic (hot spots = bacteria) and coat the spot with cortisone.

  4. Unfortunately, we have far too much experience with this. Due to Bear’s neglet prior to us adopting him, he has a lot of emotional baggage which results in excessive licking.

    Bitter apple worked ok, but was terrible for all of us and we quickly moved off that. We now use D.A.P spray or diffuser when we’re not home, and even a soft-sided cone on extreme days (to literally protect him from himself-so sad!)

    More recently, I’ve been using lavender essential oils which are calming and have been helping extremely well!

    1. After hearing everyone talk about this DAP spray, I really have to try it! I hadn’t heard about it before. Will also look into lavender essential oils. Thanks!

    1. Poor thing! They’re so frustrating. I’m always really appreciative of everyone’s comments; everyone always shares such great advice and personal experience.

  5. my Aussie will lick his paws a lot. came across an article that stated it could be protein deficiency in their food. we changed his food and the licking stopped. changed his food again and the licking started. have just now gone back to the other food. no results yet,

  6. First off, we use the DAP plug in and it is life changing in so many ways. I know when the diffuser has run out just by Melvin’s behavior. Both dogs have mild separation anxiety and it helps so much with that too. As for licking, Melvin doesn’t nervous lick but he licks and gnaws due to allergies. The thing is, he carries that behavior into the day, even when he is not itchy. The vet said it was pretty typical for allergic dogs to become a bit obsessive about licking. So… I don’t let him lick. I mean he normal dog licks but if I notice him getting obsessive I will say ‘no licking’ (which took a while for him to learn). Sometimes he just needs my voice to invade his crazy moment! Socks didn’t work for us, Melvin would poop the socks out the next day.

  7. I second the DAP plug in! And also the training for no licking… I say ‘no,’ and then give them something they are allowed to lick like a bone or kong etc. I know that doesn’t totally help when you aren’t home, but it seems to mostly work for us! I know that when Georgia’s legs start to look like she’s been licking, that she needs a little bit of a benadryl, but obviously that isn’t natural like you asked. Bach’s Rescue Remedy is a flower-based natural remedy, and works WONDERS for dogs (or people like me!) who have mild to moderate anxiety.

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