Have you ever wondered why Cavaliers lick so much? While some of you might find this habit endearing, others could find it irritating.
As someone who has been affectionately “attacked” by a Cavalier tongue for over a decade, I’m here to share my knowledge on the matter.
In this blog post, I’ll talk in detail about the reasons behind the Cavaliers’ excessive licking and also the possible solutions.
4 Behavioral Reasons For Licking Habits of Cavaliers
When you greet your friends, you either hug them, kiss them, or shake their hands. In the dog world, licking is a way of greeting a beloved companion.
However, although Cavaliers often lick their owners to express love, they may also lick themselves and even other objects.
To better understand this, let’s take a closer look at the four most common behavioral reasons behind Cavaliers’ excessive licking habits.
If you are a Cavalier owner, I don’t have to tell you about their clinginess and need to be around their favorite humans.
Being a needy breed, Cavaliers may sometimes resort to licking as a way of demanding attention. For example, if your pet feels that it is being ignored or not receiving enough attention, it may lick you, saying, “Cuddle time, please.”
And if you respond positively to your dog’s licking by petting him, you may unconsciously reinforce this method of attention-seeking. In fact, over time, your Cavalier may learn that licking is a way of getting attention and continue to do so when feeling neglected.
Affection and Bonding
Licking is the most common way for Cavaliers to express affection toward the people and animals they love. This instinctive behavior is rooted in their early experiences with their mothers.
During puppyhood, dogs receive comfort from their mother through licking. This behavior carries over into adulthood as a way of expressing love and comfort toward their human family.
Also, did you know that licking releases endorphins in dogs? In other words, licking also serves a biological purpose, as it can make them feel happy and calm.
If your Cavalier King Charles is licking excessively and doesn’t seem to have a clear reason for doing so, boredom could be a possible cause.
Dogs may repeatedly lick to relieve boredom and release stored energy when they aren’t given enough physical or mental stimulation.
Other behavior problems in Cavaliers caused by boredom may include chewing shoes, pillows, furniture, digging, and other destructive actions.
To prevent this, make sure your Cavalier exercise needs are met. Besides, providing toys and playing interactive games can also help keep your dog mentally engaged and prevent boredom-related behaviors.
Dogs, like cats, use licking as a natural means of cleaning themselves.
When Cavaliers lick themselves, they clean their fur, removing loose hair, dirt, or debris that may have accumulated on their skin. Licking can also help spread natural oils throughout their coat.
So, the next time you see your furry friend grooming, keep in mind that it’s a completely natural behavior that helps them stay clean.
However, note that your dog shouldn’t groom itself for more than a few minutes daily. If you notice that grooming takes longer than usual, it could mean that your dog has an allergic skin itch.
4 Medical Reasons For Excessive Licking in Cavaliers
For all dog breeds, including cavaliers, licking is a common thing. Still, there may be instances where a medical condition is responsible for this behavior.
While Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are known to be playful, friendly, and happy dogs, they can develop anxiety, particularly separation anxiety.
Similar to how humans may bite their nails or fidget with their hands when nervous, you may find Cavalier King Charles Spaniels licking you or themselves as a way to reduce their stress levels.
Separation anxiety can also lead to barking problems in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. So, apart from licking, your puppy will show signs of stress through different behaviors.
Licking, often followed by vomiting, could be a sign of an underlying medical issue.
Seizure problems, anemia, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, upset stomach, and also dental issues may manifest through excessive licking.
If you suspect that your Cavalier’s licking behavior is abnormal, it is crucial to seek the opinion of a veterinarian to evaluate your pet’s health.
Allergies are another common cause of repetitive licking in Cavaliers.
An allergic reaction can make your dog’s skin irritated or itchy, leading to licking. If your pet obsessively licks the inner thighs, toes, or genital area, it may indicate allergies.
Along with licking, keep an eye out for your Cavalier excessively biting or scratching at the affected area.
Did you know that dogs also suffer from OCD? Also known as CCD (Canine Compulsive Disorder), it’s characterized by repetitive behaviors that dogs can’t control.
Cavaliers with a compulsive disorder may lick themselves, pillows, carpets, or other things for hours at a time.
Yet, other symptoms of OCD in dogs besides excessive licking include tail chasing, spinning, light and shadow chasing, snapping at the air, etc.
It’s worth mentioning that many dogs exhibit these behaviors, but if they persist for several hours each day, it may indicate a psychological disorder.
Managing Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Licking Habits
Managing a Cavalier’s licking habits depends on the underlying cause of the behavior. Here are some general tips to help manage your pet’s licking:
- Determine the reason for the licking.
The most important part is to observe your dog closely and try to identify any patterns in its licking. Is it due to a medical condition? Anxiety or boredom? Or is your pooch just trying to show you love?
- Exercise and playtime.
Providing chew toys and puzzles can be helpful if the licking is due to anxiety or boredom. Additionally, making sure your Cavvy gets enough exercise and playtime can help reduce their urge to lick.
- Positive reinforcement.
It’s also a good idea to provide positive reinforcement to encourage positive behaviors and avoid rewarding excessive licking. I suggest rewarding your Cavalier with treats or praise when they engage in positive behaviors like sitting or lying down calmly.
- Medical treatment.
If you suspect your dog is licking because of a health problem, you should talk to your vet to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. The vet may give the animal medicine or suggest diet changes.