There is the normal licking; ice cream dripped on the kitchen floor, many happy (and not so welcome) kisses when an owner walks through the door. Then there is the questionable tongue bath; constant licking of an owners hand or the licking of their paw. How does one tell the difference between harmless grooming and a compulsive behavior?
Sometimes dogs like the scent of a soap or hand lotion and can’t seem to get enough of it, so they will keep licking until they are made to stop. Other dogs require constant in your face attention. If they don’t receive the undivided attention they demand, excessive licking may ensue. In the case of the attention hog, the dog needs to get out more. Schedule extra time at the dog park, take a couple of special training classes or double the dog’s walk time. Most dogs need a sufficient amount of exercise and mental stimulation. If these needs aren’t met, then behavioral issues may erupt.
If the dog is continuously licking one particular spot on their body, there may be something medically wrong. A sore joint, hair in between the paw pads, or the skin is really itchy due to allergies. If an older dog develops an addiction to licking it may be a cognitive dysfunction. The compulsion could be a chemical imbalance and have nothing to do with a behavioral issue. Whatever the case may be, a veterinarian will be able to determine any medical reasons for a dog to be licking themselves.