Why do Cocker Spaniels lick and is it harmful?
Licking is a natural behavior that dates back to wolves. When the mother wolf returned from chasing her food, the pups in her pack would lick her mouth and face to encourage burping. This is normal behavior during the weaning period. Soon after, the pups join in and learn to hunt for their own food. Interestingly, the mother wolf would also lick her pups in return to stimulate the pups to relieve themselves. It’s not surprising to learn that licking is a natural instinct that all dogs inherit. There are different types of licking behaviors and just as many reasons why dogs lick for daily routine and survival.
Cocker spaniels licking can be for a variety of reasons. Some can be complex, but most are easy to figure out and easy to fix. First, let’s look at the possible reasons.
Reasons why dogs lick
1) A submissive social behavior – showing respect to a dominant dog
2) Puppies lick their mother’s face to ask for food when they are weaned
3) A sign of affection – dog kisses
4) Dog self-cleanliness – a natural instinct learned as a puppy
5) Dog Manipulation Tactics – Lick for attention
6) Self and Litter Grooming
8) Dog health problems
9) wound cleansing
10) Injury – pain
When to worry
If your Cocker Spaniel is a compulsive licker, it may be time to investigate the reasons behind it. For example: Is your dog left alone for long periods of time? Stressed out by separation anxiety? Is your dog injured? Are there skin lesions? Is your dog sick? Obsessive licking can result in the area being scratched and/or bitten, which could bring on other problems. Compulsive – Obsessive licking behavior can often be associated with an anxious dog.
The first place to start is to examine the source. There may be something stuck to their skin or fur, check between their paws for cuts. Look for rashes under the fur. Check for possible parasites. Look for anything unusual that might cause the dog to lick itself. If it’s a skin condition, it’s most likely an easy fix.
On the other hand, if your dog is obsessively licking everything, it may be a bigger concern. Licking you into submission may seem sweet at first. But it gets tired soon. Manipulating you to get your attention and get what it wants can be a learned behavior. The behavior needs to be broken.
Don’t reward the dog for the behavior. By that I mean, never give your dog a treat to make him stop licking. If you give in, the dog has simply learned a new trick. When the dog starts licking, simply divert its attention to another activity. But first you need to stop the licking with a strong verbal NO command. Never hit or yell at your Cocker Spaniel, be firm and gentle.
Is licking harmful?
Dogs have been licking people for hundreds of years and I have never heard of anyone dying from an innocent dog kiss. All dogs love the taste of salt, which is one of the main reasons they lick people. With that in mind, it’s important to point out that you should never let a dog lick your open wounds. This could increase the risk of infection by introducing pathogenic bacteria into the wound. Despite what you may have heard, the possible transmission of disease or infection from a dog licking an open wound should be avoided.
As long as your Cocker Spaniel is healthy and showing no signs of illness, rest assured that unless you are ticklish, playful licking will not be harmful. At worst, it can be very annoying; at best it can be a sign of affection.
Always consult your local veterinarian or a professional trainer if you feel your pup has a licking problem that is beyond your control. Compulsive – Obsessive licking behavior is often linked to a dog feeling anxious for some reason. Your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer can help you identify the source and offer remedies. You don’t need to make your pup suffer unnecessarily and stress yourself out at the same time.
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