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Why Does My Dog Lick Furniture?

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Some dogs develop OCD (obsessive compulsive disorders) which can be identified by obsessive compulsive activities such as: licking furniture/carpet, tail chasing, air snapping, light chasing, flank- sucking, or water bowl digging. Some owners promote this behavior with laser light beams and wind up regretting it later.

Sometimes stress in the environment may also play a role in developing obsessive compulsive disorders in dogs.

Treatment

It’s very important to see if there are any underlying socialization deficits (lack of exercise, impoverished environment - i.e., inadequate mental stimulation) and address them if present. The following guidelines should also help:
  • Begin by providing adequate rules, personal space boundaries and expectations. Control food, space, articles of play and affection. That is, put your dog on a learn-to-earn program; everything he wants, he has to do at least a sit. That would include his food, access to your lap, his toys and any affection he gets from any family member.
  • Embark on a rigorous exercise program of leadership walks. Two brisk 30 minute walks a day – by your side. Be sure and take time out in the middle of the walk to let him sniff, pee/poop and explore with his nose before resuming your walk back to the house.
  • Supplement exercise with frequent training sessions of come, sit and down back and forth between two people and leave it commands. You would be surprised what 3 – 2 minute training sessions a day will do for your dog. That’s just 6 minutes a day. Surely you have 6 minutes each day for your dog! Teach and reinforce a mutually exclusive behavior like a sit, down or place command to replace his OCD behavior when it occurs.
  • Reduce stress as OCD is triggered by stress. Identify the stressors in your dog’s life and remove them. If you can’t remove the stressors, then manage his environment to reduce your dog’s exposure to those stressors that cannot be eliminated. Better yet, enrich his environment. Get some great ideas from my previous article here at WebVet entitled, “A Bored Dog is a Troubled Dog.”
  • Stop any family behavior (like laughing and attention) that might be reinforcing your dogs OCD. One young pup’s tail chasing or spinning was cured by all family members getting up and leaving the room every time he engaged in his OCD. It stopped within a month.

Finally if your dog already has OCD, do something now! Make the commitment today. While there may not always be a cure, life with your dog can be happier and more complete.

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Jim Burwell is a respected and acknowledged expert in dog behavior, dog training and puppy training. His career spans close to 30 years in Houston and he has had the privilege to serve over 8500 clients and help more than 20,000 dogs. Jim's website: Jim Burwell's Petiquette has a vast amount of information for dog and puppy owners to read and put into action. He is also a mentor to dog trainers who are looking to become better trainers and grow their business. Jim is a member of IACP and APDT.
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