Why Cocker Spaniels Lick and Is It Harmful?
Licking is natural behavior going all the way back to the wolf. When the mother wolf would return from hunting its food the pups in her pack would lick her mouth and face to stimulate regurgitation. This is a normal behavior during the weaning stages. Soon after the pups join in and learn to hunt for their own food. Interesting enough the mother wolf would also lick her pups in return to stimulate the pups to tie themselves. It is not surprising to learn that licking is a natural instinct that all dogs inherit. There are different types of licking behaviors and as many reasons why dogs lick for daily routines and well as survival.
Cocker Spaniel licking can stem from a variety of reasons. Some can be complex but most are simple to figure out and easy to fix. Let's take a look at the possible reasons first.
Reasons Why Dogs Lick
1) A submissive social behavior – paying respect to a dominant dog
2) Puppies lick their mothers face to solicit food when weaning
3) A sign of affection – dog kisses
4) Dog self cleanliness – a natural instinct learned when being a puppy
5) Dog manipulation tactic – licking for attention
6) Self and litter grooming
8) Dog health problems
9) Wound cleaning
10) Injury – pain
When To Be Concerned
If your Cocker Spaniel is a compulsive licker it may be time to look into the reasons why. For example: is your dog left alone for long periods of time? Stressed out due to separation anxiety? Is your dog injured? Are there any lesions of the skin? Is your dog sick? Obsessive licking and can lead to scratching and or biting the area which could present other problems. Compulsive – Obsessive licking behaviors can often be linked to a dog feeling anxious.
The first place to start is by inspecting the source. Maybe something is stuck on their skin or coats, look between the paws for cuts. 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 will most likely be an easy fix.
On the other hand, if your dog is compulsively licking everything is sight than there might be a greater concern. Licking you into submission may be cute at first. But it will tire soon. It may be a learned behavior to manipulate you to get your attention and to get what it wants. The behavior needs to be broken.
Do not reward the dog for the behavior. By this I mean never give your dog a treat to stop licking. If you give in, the dog will have simply learned a new trick. When the dog starts licking simply divert its attention to a different activity. But first you need to break 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 humans for centuries of years and I have never heard of anyone dying from an innocent dog kiss. All dogs love the taste of salt, this is one of the main reasons they lick humans. With that said it's important to point out that you should never let a dog lick your open wounds.This could increase the risk for infection by introducing pathogenic bacteria to the wound. Despite what you may have heard, the possible transmittal of a disease or infection by a dog licking an open wound should be avoided.
As long as your Cocker Spaniel is healthy and shows no signs of illness it is safe to bet that playful licking is not harmful unless you are ticklish. At worst it can be very annoying; at best it can be a show of affection.
Always confer with your local Vet or a professional trainer if you feel your pup has a licking issue beyond your control. Compulsive – Obsessive licking behaviors are often linked to a dog feeling anxious for some reason. Your Vet or a professional dog trainer can help you figure out the source and offer remedies. No need to have your pup suffer needlessly and stress yourself out at the same time.