Can’t work out why your dog keeps licking his paws like crazy? Think about it. Why do some people chew their fingernails?
We all want our dogs to have nice healthy paws like the one pictured, not ones that have been licked pink, or worse, chewed on until they are red-raw.
Why Do Dogs Keep Licking Their Paws?
The ‘dog licking paws’ problem comes in two varieties: medical and mental.
Let’s say your dog is well-adjusted*, totally relaxed, has plenty of exercise, and enjoys a good selection of toys. He suddenly starts licking hard at one paw. That’s probably a medical issue like a small injury, parasite, allergy or the like. If it doesn’t clear up, you may need to head off to the vet.
* We’ll talk more about what ‘well-adjusted’ means in a moment.
Dog Licking Paws: The Mental Issue
Before you go out seeking treatment for a Canine Compulsive Disorder or anything else, take a minute to assess your situation.
Boredom (sometimes) or anxiety (most likely) can cause paw licking or chewing behavior in dogs.
If the cause is boredom, the fix is simple. Increase your dog’s exercise and get them some challenge toys to keep their minds engaged when there’s no one around to play with. Here are some useful references for you to get started:
Anxiety most often causes paw licking problems, but what could be making your dog anxious? What could possibly be worrying your poor dog’s head?
Most likely, it’s you.
Yes. You. And here’s why.
You and Your Dog… or is it Your Dog and You? Who is the Boss?
Dogs are by nature social animals. They were originally domesticated from wolves, and are still so close biologically that they can interbreed with their wild cousins.
That means dogs still have a pack view of relationships, so any dog living with humans instinctively sees the whole household as their dog-pack.
That’s right, your dog sees you as some strange kind of two-legged variety of dog, at least emotionally.
Now that’s a good thing, because dogs are loyal to their pack. However, it’s a bad thing if your dog feels that they are the pack leader.
Before you shake your head and say that’s not you, understand this. Just because you can get your dog to sit on command doesn’t mean you are the pack leader. There’s much more to it than that.
- Does your dog lead you down the street when you take a walk?
- Does your dog jump up on you and anyone who arrives at the door?
- Do they bark at strangers, or when you leave the house?
These are all signs that you have a pack leadership problem.
Dog Licking Paws: The Burden of Leadership
Letting your dog believe they are the pack leader does them no favors at all. There are no perks for being the pack leader in a human household. There are only responsibilities that are generally impossible for your dog to deal with.
Humans just don’t behave like proper pack members should. You make it too hard for your dog to look after you.
- Do you show proper respect? No.
- Do you come when the pack is called? No.
- Do you wander off for hours on end leaving your pack leader trapped behind a door or a gate with no way to make sure you are OK? Of course you do.
Dogs take their leadership duties very seriously, so they stress out when human behavior stops them from carrying out those duties.
How Dogs Show Stress
The ‘dog licking paws’ behavior is clearly one way they show stress, as is chewing on their paws or legs. Some dogs lose all energy, completely overwhelmed, while other others develop all sorts of manic habits or break previously rock-solid house training.
It’s enough to make you wonder if you have a crazy dog.
By contrast, a well-adjusted dog doesn’t bear the burden of pack leadership, so they can just relax. When you take the stress of leadership away from your dog, the changes are remarkable.
Now, dogs will try to be the pack leader – that’s in their nature – but they are also perfectly content to be one of the pack once they know their place.
That’s where you need to help them out. Your dog can’t give up the leadership role by choice. They can’t simply quit. You need to show them that you have taken on the leadership role, so they can relax and just follow.
Become the Pack Leader
You need to show pack leadership in ways that your dog understands. Back in the dark ages owners would dominate their dogs physically from a young age, but we’re smarter than that now.
You can demonstrate pack leadership to your dog gently and simply and in a way that your dog will understand. Part of it is your attitude, and learning when not to react to your dog’s actions. Plus, there are some simple techniques that reinforce who is really the leader.
Our go-to expert, Doggy Dan, has distilled this entire process into 5 Golden Rules. When you follow these rules, you relieve your dog’s leadership stress. Results are both fast and surprising.
To access the Golden Rules, take up Doggy Dan’s 3-day trial offer and you will see for yourself how it all makes sense.
Be kind to your dog. Click the link below and cure the ‘dog licking paws’ problem today.