Why do cocker spaniels lick and is it harmful?
Licking is a natural behavior that dates back to the wolf. When the mother wolf returned from hunting her food, the cubs in her pack licked her mouth and face to stimulate regurgitation. This is normal behavior during the weaning stages. Soon after, the cubs band together and learn to hunt for their own food. It is quite interesting that the mother wolf also licked her cubs in exchange for stimulating them to relieve themselves. It’s no wonder that licking is a natural instinct that all dogs inherit. There are different types of licking behaviors and so many reasons why dogs lick for daily routines and survival.
Licking cocker spaniels can be due to a variety of reasons. Some can be complex, but most are easy to understand and fix. Let’s first take a look at the possible reasons.
Reasons why dogs lick
1) A submissive social behavior: respect a dominant dog
2) Puppies lick their mothers face to request food when weaning
3) A sign of affection – dog kisses
4) Self-cleaning of the dog: a natural instinct that is learned when it was a puppy
5) Dog handling tactic: licking for attention
6) Personal and litter grooming
8) Dog health problems
9) Wound cleaning
10) Injury – bread
When to worry
If your Cocker Spaniel is a compulsive licker, it may be time to investigate the reasons. For example: is your dog left alone for long periods of time? Stressed Due To Separation Anxiety? Is your dog hurt? Are there skin lesions? Is your dog sick? Obsessive licking and can lead to scratching or biting the area, which could present other problems. Compulsive – Obsessive licking behaviors can often be related to a dog feeling anxious.
The first place to start is by inspecting the source. Maybe something is stuck to the skin or fur, look for cuts between the legs. Look for rashes under the coat. Look for possible parasites. Look for anything unusual that may be causing 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 compulsively licking everything in sight, then there could be a greater concern. Licking yourself into submission can be cute at first. But it will tire soon. It may be a learned behavior to manipulate him to get his attention and get what he wants. The behavior must be broken.
Don’t reward the dog for its behavior. By this I mean never give your dog a treat to stop licking. If he gives in, the dog has simply learned a new trick. When the dog starts licking, just divert his attention to a different activity. But first you must break the lick with a strong verbal command NO. Never hit or yell at your Cocker Spaniel, be firm and gentle.
Is licking harmful?
Dogs have been licking humans for hundreds of years and I have never heard of anyone being killed by an innocent kiss from a dog. All dogs love the taste of salt, this is one of the main reasons they lick humans. With that said, it’s important to note that you should never let a dog lick your open 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, it’s safe to bet that playful licking isn’t harmful unless he’s tickled. At worst, it can be very annoying; at best, it can be a show of affection.
Always check with your local vet or professional trainer if you feel like your puppy has a licking problem beyond your control. Compulsive – Obsessive licking behaviors are often related to a dog feeling anxious for some reason. Your veterinarian or a professional dog trainer can help you discover the source and offer remedies. Your puppy doesn’t need to suffer unnecessarily and stress you out at the same time.