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Licking the paws is a natural behavior in dogs, it is how they groom and clean their paws. Chances are good your pup spends at least some part of each day grooming himself; this is quite normal. But, when he spends hour after hour licking his paws until they are raw and bleeding, it's time for you to step in and do something as this type behavior is definitely NOT acceptable.
One of the biggest reasons your dog continues to lick and chew on his paws may be his diet. In nature, your dog's diet would consist of mostly meat. A domesticated dog's diet is more grains, fillers, and other miscellaneous, less than healthy, ingredients. Instead of keeping his body in balance, these foods allow yeasts to go crazy, causing significant itching, especially on his paws, which of course he will lick and chew on to try to get relief.
Unlike what you may think, your dog licking his paws should never be looked at as a bad habit or just your pup being bored. Instead should be looked at as a systemic issue. One that may be able to be corrected with a change in his diet. By changing your pup's diet to one that is meat based may help to restore balance to his immune system, which in turn may help reduce his desire to lick his paws.
Pay close attention to the foods your dog eats and at the same time, pay close attention to the condition of his feet. If the fur is pink and his paws look damaged, you should take him to see his vet to make sure the injuries are not severe and to get any medical treatment he may need for his paws to heal.
Start by observing how often and how long your pup spends licking his paws every day for a few days. This will help you to establish the fact he has a paw licking issue. Check each foot for any signs of injury or damage and take him to his vet if you find any. Avoid crazy home remedies such as putting cayenne pepper on his paws (this stuff can really hurt him), or putting vinegar or anything else that tastes nasty on his paws. These things can make your dog very sick. You will need a few things to help with the training, including:
- Vet approved lick repellent
The biggest part of training your dog to stop licking his paws is to be patient and keep working with him until he stops constantly licking. Remember, some licking is a normal part of your pup's normal grooming routine.
The Lick Repellant Method
Start by going to the pet store or your vet and picking up a spray can of lick repellant. Be sure to check with your vet to see which one he approves of.
Observe your dog
Check your dog's paws over carefully to make sure there isn't a medical cause for this habit.
Watch your dog
Watch to see when he licks his paws and for how long. This will help you determine if he needs to be taught to stop licking his paws or not.
Spray his paws
The spray typically tastes like sour apples and will not harm your pup. Spray a light coat on his paws and walk away.
Each time he licks
Every time your pup licks his paws, he is in for a nasty shock. The taste should stop him in his tracks.
Repeat this process
Repeat this process until your pup stops licking his paws incessantly. Once he does you can slowly stop spraying his paws and he should go back to normal grooming. Mission accomplished.
The Distraction Method
Time for the gathering
Gather your pup's favorite toys, treats, and anything else you can think of that can be used to distract him.
Observe his behavior
Watch your pup to see when he is licking and for how long it goes on.
Each time you see him
Every time you see your pup start to lick or chew on his paws, use the toy, treat, or a game to distract him from this behavior.
If your distraction is successful, be sure to praise your pup and give him a treat.
Time and time again
The rest is all about repeating this training until your pup forgets all about his habit of licking his paws. It may take several weeks before he finally reaches this point. But, all of your hard work and patience will pay off as your pup stops trying to chew and lick his paws off.
The Itchy Feet Method
Check his paws
Some dogs have allergies that tend to make their feet itch, causing them to lick at the itch in an attempt to get it to stop.
Soak his feet
Soak his feet in some nice warm water infused with baking soda and juniper berries for a few minutes. The berries are a natural antibiotic and will help reduce his risks of infection.
Work the water between his toes
While his feet are still in the water, work the solution in between his toes and the pads under his feet. Massage it in thoroughly and let him stand there for few more minutes. He should enjoy the feeling.
Take him out of the solution and use a dry soft towel to dry off his feet.
Moisturize his feet
The last step is to use a vet-approved moisturizer and apply it to his feet. As long as his feet don't itch, he will not bother licking them unless he feels they need groomed. Keep doing this until the itch clears up and your dog no longer feels the need to lick his paws constantly.
Written by PB Getz
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 12/08/2017, edited: 01/08/2021