If your Havanese starts licking excessively it’s time to find out why it’s happening and whether it’s something to be concerned about.
Excessive licking can be caused by obsessive-compulsive disorders, anxiety, a recent wound, skin irritation, or an underlying health issue. There are less problematic reasons behind licking such as showing affection, grooming, and boredom.
My Havanese Won’t Stop Licking!
There is a range of reasons behind why your Havanese has started licking excessively. As I mentioned earlier, it’s necessary to narrow the licking behavior down to location. Is your Havanese licking you? their paws? or even the air?
The reasons can change dramatically depending on what your Havanese is trying to lick. Below I cover the three main areas: When your Havanese is licking you, his paws or himself, or the air.
Why Your Havanese Licks You & Other People
You either love it or you hate it when your Havanese licks you… I won’t be one to judge, but personally, I don’t like it when my dogs or my friend’s dogs try to lick me. No thank you!
If your Havanese tries to lick you, it usually comes down to either wanting attention, recognition, showing you affection, or that he can smell or taste something on you. It’s known that some dogs take a liking to the salty taste of our skin.
If your Havanese constantly tries to lick specific parts, particularly your hands or feet, it usually means he can taste something. We use our hands to prepare food and the scent can remain even after washing them.
When your Havanese makes a beeline for your face, it’s a classic display of showing you affection as well as an attempt to gain your full attention and recognition. Havanese are a breed that loves their owner’s attention, so this doesn’t come as a shock to most owners.
These issues would be considered behavioral issues as opposed to medical issues. Behavioral issues can be managed with different training techniques, and medical issues require veterinary assistance.
Why Your Havanese Licks His Paws So Much
If your Havanese is continuously licking or even chewing his paws, it suggests that something is irritating him in that location.
- This can be things such as yeast infections, mange (skin mites), environmental or food allergies or, dry skin.
In this situation, it’s recommended to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian so they can diagnose the exact issue.
You may be able to see redness, swelling, and even a rash, but that doesn’t mean you’re able to diagnose the issue correctly. Redness could be caused by general dry skin issues, or it could be the result of irritation caused by mange.
So to clarify, if you notice your Havanese to start focusing on his paws excessively, it nearly always means there’s something wrong that requires help from a vet. Contact your veterinarian for an appointment as soon as you can.
Why Your Havanese Licks The Air
Although this sounds a little unusual, it’s actually very common. Excessively licking the air can be caused by a range of reasons.
Top reasons behind why your Havanese may lick the air
● Wetting the nose:
A wet nose has many benefits, the two most important being improved smell, and better body temperature control. When your Havanese licks the air, he’s actually indirectly wetting his nose. The wetness allows scent particles to gather and stick to the nose better, improving smell. And with the smell being a dog’s most important scent, it’s no wonder they all like to keep their noses wet.
● Something stuck in his mouth:
Whether it’s food stuck to the roof of the mouth or something that’s blocking the airways, licking the air could suggest your Havanese has something stuck in his mouth. This could be both a serious hazard or something harmless so it’s very important to inspect his mouth if you see excessive air licking.
● Moistening his airways:
If your Havanese has a dry throat, which could be caused by an infection, stress, or his environment, then licking the air will bring moisture back into his nose as he breaths in. This essentially keeps his throat moist, preventing discomfort from a dry throat.
● Smelling strong scents:
A dog’s sense of smell can be anywhere between 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours. That’s pretty amazing, right. If a strong scent comes by, with or without us even realizing it, your Havanese may be licking the air to push the scent molecules into his nose. This happens particularly when other animals have been in the area.
● Stress and compulsive habits:
Excessive licking, in general, can be due to generic stress and anxiety, leading to an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Licking that may initially be caused by one thing, could end up forming a bad habit after a short period of time.
Consider how often the air-licking happens. If it’s happening daily, in multiple locations, it indicates a more prominent issue that’s continuously bothering him.
Air-licking is another form of licking that nearly always requires a veterinary visit to rule out issues with his throat, as well as help you diagnose stress and lifestyle issues that could be causing it.
When Should You See a Veterinarian?
As I always say, there’s no wrong moment to visit the veterinarian, and If you are concerned about the health of your Havanese, give them a call.
But not all situations indeed require veterinary attention.
Times when your Havanese should visit the vets:
● When he’s focusing on one particular area of his body continuously
● When he’s excessively licking on a daily basis
● When he’s licking surfaces excessively (potential GI Issues)
● If you cannot explain the behavior with an obvious reason.
Times when your Havanese may not need to see the vets:
● When he licks infrequently or randomly, it doesn’t matter where in this case
● When he tries licking YOU or other people (behavioral issues)
● When he licks randomly due to strong smells, or when out on walks
● When he licks the air due to having food stuck (as long as it is NOT blocking airways)
If you are unsure, the best thing to do is at least call your veterinarian for immediate professional advice.
4 Ways To Stop Your Havanese From Licking You
Assuming health issues have been ruled out, the following 4 methods are known training techniques to help reduce and eventually prevent excessive licking.
These tips are primarily focused on when your Havanese is licking you or other people (due to behavioral issues).
1. Ignore his licking
This is a difficult one, I know. And this may not be appropriate to ask your guests to “ignore” the licking. But it’s something that you can try first.
When licking is caused by wanting your attention, whether you respond negatively or positively, you’re giving your attention to your Havanese. This, unfortunately, reinforces to your havi that licking you worked… It got your attention.
So, despite how awful it may be, the first method you can try is to ignore your Havanese when he licks you.
Again, this will only work if your Havanese licks you for attention. If he’s licking you because you just prepared some food, ignoring him will not work.
2. The “No!” Approach
If the licking is not caused by an attention issue, and he’s licking you because he finds it playful, or because your feet smell (it happens to the best of us!) then you can try the firm “No!” approach.
When he licks you, give him a firm and strong “No!” and then back away from him, or continue to ignore him. You can try both.
Dogs understand our speech to a very high level and the tone of voice we use with our dogs, actually triggers different emotions in their brain (this has been proved). Dogs fully understand our happy voice, to our angry voice.
This firm “No!” is as good as a punishment, and you should never take it any further. This is all that’s needed. Your Havanese will get the gist immediately that you do not approve of this behavior, and with time, he will avoid disapproving behavior.
Once again, this won’t work if he wants your attention, because dogs that are craving attention, may not care whether it’s good or bad attention (kind of like how kids work!).
3. Redirect excessive licking
Redirection with positive reinforcement is another classic way to manage behavioral issues.
Dog’s learn the best through association and repetition. Which is exactly what this training method involves.
Every time your Havi tries to lick you, redirect his licking to one of his favorite toys, whether this means throwing his ball, or wiggling his favorite rope toy. Redirect his licking to something else, and after his focus remains on something else for at least 5-10 seconds, reward him for it.
This will slowly train him to know that he gets rewarded for choosing his toy, over licking you.
The hardest part of this training method is that the results don’t come quickly. You’ll need to do this consistently for 1-2 weeks. But in the end, the chances of it working are high.
Eventually, your Havanese will think to chew his toy every time he feels like he wants to lick you. With the ultimate goal being that he no longer desires to lick you at all.
4. Exercise is important (physical AND mental)
Exercise can be your secret weapon to combat almost all behavioral-related issues.
Ensuring that your Havanese receives a sufficient amount of exercise and mental stimulation daily, will eliminate a huge amount of discontentment, stress, anxiety, and boredom from his daily life.
Although Havanese are small, don’t underestimate their desire to be active and use their minds.
A healthy Havanese in their prime will happily exercise for 1-2 hours a day, and that’s not including playtime at home and training activities.
Reassess your Havanese’s current daily exercise levels and consider how you could improve upon it. This may be all it takes to stop excessive licking.
Thank you for reading! If you have any further questions, please let me know and I will be happy to get back to you. All the best, Harry.