My dog is Making me a Crazy person

Bumblebeez SC Zone 7December 6, 2013

Ok, I love her. Tremendously, and will be with her forever. Let's just get that out of the way. I will never abandon/rehome or put her down unnecessarily.
She is a 14-15 year old Jack Russel and for the past several years, but in the past 2 mainly, she licks the floor constantly. She has no medical issues and my vet, whom I think is great, chalks it up to a neurotic ocd behavior.
It wildly grosses me out. I don't know how to stop it or reconcile myself to it. I end up screaming at her ALL the time.
I don't know what to do. She has free rein in the house to go where she wants (she knows which furniture she is allowed to sit on) but recently, I barred her from my bathroom, I couldn't take it anymore and while the 12" high cardboard barricades are unsightly, I am much happier.
I just wish she would stop. She licks everything. She sleeps with my Dad and his floor is gross. She licks his pillow the second he gets up....

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My previous dog used to lick the floors too when she got old.

My dog I have now will sometimes lick her bed or a blanket on the couch. But he doesn't do it all the time.

I don't think there is much you can do. It sounds like you already tried to stop her. You could try to spray her with water with a water bottle and say "Leave It". Make sure you don't spray her in the face. My dog trainer told me to do that for another problem I am having with my dogs. Don't know yet if it is working.

Glad to hear you are a dedicated dog owner and keeping her.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2013 at 10:28PM
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As you probably know by now, screaming at her just creates more stress......both for her and the household.
First, she's old and she could have some type of dementia.
Second, when's the last time she had a check up at the vet's? At her age she could be having some pain and the licking could be a symptom.
Third, how much exercise does she get? She could be bored since JR's are a breed that love, and need, to do things that exercise both their minds and body.

If she's otherwise healthy, and getting exercise, I would try to divert her attention when she does this. If she has all her teeth try offering her some of the flavored chews that are available in pet stores or online.......or give her a treat/biscuit that will take her awhile to eat. A knuckle bone from the butcher would also keep her occupied for a long time.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 12:26AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Thank you both so much. I think she does have slight dementia at times but overall, is very alert and interested in life and gets plenty of exercise. We have acreage, and she and my other dog spend hours outside roaming around, sniffing, digging. etc.
i don't think that's it. No health issues, she just had her teeth cleaned last month, bloodwork done, is in very good health.

In some other crazy way, when I yell at her, she thinks we are playing and she barks and growls and snarls all the while wiggling her tail. She really enjoys it. So my yelling is rewarding to her, so would be giving a treat.
For example, she was in my bathroom licking and I yelled at her and she stopped and slowly started to leave the bathroom. But before walking out, she turned her head to look at me then gave the floor a really fast lick, then quickly left.
It's like she thinks I am not going to tell her what to do! That has always been an issue. She is very stubborn about getting her way. Doesn't forget things.

There probably isn't an answer at this stage, but it helps me to talk about it. I might try the water bottle, i have thought about that before.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 12:43PM
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Diverting her attention is different than just giving her a treat, and timing is crucial. You're correct that giving her a chewy item at the time she licking the floor would be a reward. Instead, you would want to divert her attention first, maybe with an odor from a favorite food, so that she is no longer thinking about licking...........then give her the chew or treat. She is then rewarded for 'not' licking.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 1:30PM
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spedigrees z4VT

If it were me, I think I would just live with it and remind myself that all too soon the old dog would be gone and the slimy floors can be washed. It does sound like some sort of dementia. I wonder if one of the meds used to curtail obsessive/compulsive behavior in humans could be used safely on dogs, and if that would work for your old girl.

My little 11 yr old rescue dog sometimes licks his dog bed at night, or the throw blanket on the arm of the couch. He leaves wet spots there, but it's localized and not as disgusting as an entire floor or a pillow used by humans! So it's not really a problem. He only does this at night, and at this time he also gets a drink of milk. A treat of any other kind just won't do; it has to be his little saucer of milk. It has become a routine; he will stand in front of the fridge and bark until he gets it. I've come to the conclusion that the milk coupled with the licking of areas with a short furry texture are reminiscent to him of nursing from his mom long, long ago. Since he had a hard life before he come to me a few years ago, I'm happy that he now has these things as a source of comfort at bedtime.

I also had a cat who would suck on my hair while I slept, while kneading my pillow with her claws. I suspect that stemmed from the same comfort-seeking instinct.

So perhaps this is where your little terrier's floor and pillow licking stems from, aka reverting back to a sort of second puppyhood.

I'm sure it is challenging to deal with this odd behavior, but it could be worse. Several of my old pets suffered from incontinence in their last year(s), and that is more difficult to manage, requiring disposable bedding and confinement to certain areas of the house. Saliva, even in large quantities, is better than pee! Good luck with your old girl and maintaining your sanity!

This post was edited by spedigrees on Sat, Dec 7, 13 at 15:19

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 3:16PM
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"For example, she was in my bathroom licking and I yelled at her and she stopped and slowly started to leave the bathroom. But before walking out, she turned her head to look at me then gave the floor a really fast lick, then quickly left."

LOL! I love it!

I guess you could put one of those lampshade hoods on her so she cannot reach the floor, but that sounds to be a bit much. Does she have plenty to chew, toys? Maybe some new kind of chewy things. There are dozens of kinds.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 4:32PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I think you are right spedi, that it is a form of dementia stemming back to her childhood.
I got her from the humane society when she was 18 months and boy, was she a licker. Mainly my face whenever she could.
I would lie on the floor and try and cover my face and she would try and lick me, it was a fun game we played for years. She has not been interested in my face for many years though, she "grew up".

It's quite ironic and reinforces my theory about the bond pets have with their humans.
My Dad has lived with me for 14 years and for the past 25 years, has had two dogs, the current "licker" and a cock-a-poo who lived to be 15 and passed away within a year of his move to my home. But the previous 3 years, Dad had prostate cancer, and while he was in the hospital having his prostate removed, his beloved dog starting going crazy. I took her to my parents vet and the dog ALSO had prostate cancer! He had to be "fixed' immediately.

My Dad has dementia, and I would say his decline echos our current licking dog, who sleeps next to him. He has a basement apt. and I take care of all.
I don't want to do anything to cause mental distress to the licker, you are right, be grateful for today. We have them for such a short time.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 7:34PM
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spedigrees z4VT

Hi Bumblebeez, it sounds like you have a heavy care burden with both your dad and the licking dog. What a surprising coincidence about the previous dog and your dad both having the same type of cancer at the same time. It seems that your dad is very much on the same wave length with his dogs. I have to admit that thinking about the little dog sneaking in a lick when you weren't looking made me laugh, but I'm sure the amusement value wears thin when you are dealing with it everyday. Feel free to vent on this forum; it won't change things but might make you feel better.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 2:26PM
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Go to the Health Food Store and get yourself a bottle of RESCUE REMEDY, Start with a couple of drops in her mouth, increase or decrease as needed. It is probably a combination of stress and old ge, Good Luck

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 12:30AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Thank you spedi and mazer. I don't know if it's stress though, she seems pretty intent and happy when she is licking!
I have started giving her a shove in the rear with my foot when she licks and NOT making any sounds at all. It seems to be working. She moves on to another place to lick..I shove again....
I blocked her out of the kitchen with some 12" high cardboard barricades, she could look over the top but it drove her crazy- she couldn't get where she wanted! She also found it highly entertaining trying to push the cardboard and break through which has happened occasionally.

But I get tired of the walking over the cardboard and the unsightliness so I can only do it for awhile. It was held up with the cabinet doors open and mixing bowls and she found if she pushed hard enough she could slide the mixing bowls!
(U shaped open kitchen w/island)
Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 9:24AM
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spedigrees z4VT

You know, Bumblebeez, an idea just came to me. I'm not sure it would be workable or if it would help, but... what about making a small gated area in your home where your dog would be free to lick the floor or a dog bed? I have a feeling that if the licking were confined to a specific small "lick-friendly" zone that the behavior might not be so annoying. I think that is why my own dog's licking doesn't bother me in the least, because he only licks in two unobtrusive places, his bed tucked into a dark corner and a folded up throw blanket on the couch.

I'm not sure that your old dog would be amenable to this arrangement, but it could be worth a try. You could lure her into the "lick friendly" zone with a treat as soon as you catch her licking the floor in any other area. You could place a bed or pillow that she likes to lick in a place with tempting flooring in the "zone" for her. Then when she's not licking, let her back out but lure and treat her for returning to the "lick-friendly" area if she starts to lick while she's loose. Sort of like potty training a dog to only "go" in a particular part of the yard. Maybe she would catch on and go into the space where licking is allowed when she gets the urge.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 1:36PM
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I can relate! My 12 to 13 yo Mini Dachshund is a licker. She only has half of her teeth, so it is a little hard for her to keep her tongue in her mouth. I have had her almost a year now. She licks me, my chair, the floor, my blankets... She knows English pretty well. I can tell her "Don't Lick!" and she stops for a while.

Licking is a comfort measure. She looks relaxed when she is licking because it relaxes and comforts her. So she may lick more the sicker your dad gets, as a way of dealing with changes she senses in him.

My other dog is a 14 yo beagle/golden. He has been Mr. Laid Back his whole life. He has also always had two other dogs around. We got Lizzy the Licker about four moths after Casey passed and Toby became an Only. Toby seemed to get really mopey and we were hoping Lizzy would be his pal. Well, she is too much of a b-female dog-h to be a pal, but he does seem to appreciate her. But he has been getting very anxious at night, actually whining and yipping and even screaming at us if we don't get him constant treats. Of course, he can't have constant treats. He never got constant treats, so we don't know where he got the idea. I give him attention, brush him, have him on my lap, try everything, and he still is anxious with whining and ringing his bell to go out, then refusing to go out. (he is trained to jiggle a bell that hangs from the patio door to tell us he wants to go out) Sometimes, he then ran back to the bathroom on the other end of the house and peed on the rug. We started leaving a pee mat there and he was using it frequently. When I took him to the vet about this, she thought 1. He is in pain. Started him on Derramax. 2. Pain is arthritis, started him on Phycox (joint support supplement) 3. He seems confused, he may have doggy dementia, start him on Neutricks. We call the Neutricks his "stupid pills" and we think they are helping him. The other thing we did is switched his after-dinner snacking to frozen veggies. He gets almost as much of this as he gets of dog food, and loves it. He used to get it about an hour after dinner, but keeps bugging us to give it sooner and sooner. We only give in when we are too tired or busy with something else to hold out! Both dogs have lost weight on the new routine, too.

I hope some of these ideas work for you. Look up the Neutricks and see if you can try this out. I also agree with the Rescue Remedy. There is also that pheremone that you can buy that reminds the dog of the smell of a nursing mother dog, which is calming. You can spray it around the room or put it in a difuser in your father's room to help your dog feel calmer in there. I don't remember the name of it. Can anyone help with that?

Here are my Licker and my Whiner! Toby was probably 8 years old before we ever heard his voice! He went from never whining ever, to being a nag.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 10:06AM
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murraysmom Zone 6 OH

Nancy, they are adorable and you are a saint to adjust to their needs! Lizzy especially is lucky to have found you.

My two are still relatively young (9 and 3) so I have some time before they start that kind of fun.

Best wishes for happy holidays for all of you and your critters.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 10:19AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Wow, so precious. Older dogs that are loved are so touching...i have one sitting in my lap right now so my typing is erratic but wouldn't trade it for anything.
So right Nancy, she finds licking comforting and enjoyable. i am working on just taking it one day at a time and not yelling. I will definitely look into those meds, she has quite a few more years in her and they might help. thank you!! and appreciate hearing about your pups.
i love my vet so i will see what he says.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2013 at 8:01PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

I might ask him for some anti-anxiety meds...for me! ;)

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 6:25PM
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