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Canine Behavior/Short obessed licking


Morning Bliss
Morning Bliss  
Hi Dr.Connor,
Thank you for reading and considering my question.
I have 4 dogs. A 5yo golden retriever/black lab(Shadow, not fixed), 4yo papered Rottweiler(Shugg, not fixed), 3yo pit mix (Gracie, fixed), 2yo pit(Nina, fixed). All will be fixed shortly. All of my dogs get along wonderfully. But my dogs have always gotten along with other dogs, our cat (only because he thinks he's a dog and goes in and like the dogs do when the dogs do), the kids, which are 3 and 2, other people, and everything really! Before Shugg, the pack order was Gracie, Shadow, Nina and any foster dogs came after Nina. Shugg doesn't seem to mind where he is in the order as long as he is in it. Nor have I seen anything to suggest an "argument" over pack order, or anything. He just blended in like he's always belonged here. Gracie and Shugg knew each other previously when Shugg was 2yo and Gracie was 5mo. We called her his little girlfriend. But they were together for almost a year and in that time period I trained Shugg, because he had no leash manners, did not listen to commands, and just didn't know very much.  But after a year I moved away and the dogs had not seen each other until we took Shugg in. (His one and only owner had to move and could not take him with her and I told her if anything ever happened I wanted him.) Now that you have a little background. Here is my question. Last night for several hours Shugg was obsessed with licking Gracie everywhere! Especially her ears, mouth, ears, and butt, but licked everywhere on her also. Only twice did I see her lick his mouth and it was in a playful manner. She did not seem to mind him doing it at all. She never stopped him or made any inclination that she didn't like it. But he would lick her until he was out of breath and panting and then he would whine and go back to licking her. When she was ready for bed she jumped up next to me and he whined, I told him to go lay down and that was the end of it. Why did he do that? There is no power struggle in my house. My husband and I are leaders of our pack and the dogs don't fight or show dominance in any way. My sister in law and her 2 kids live with us and they listen to my sister in law only because they know they have to, they wish they didn't. Every time she gives a command they look at me or my husband and if we confirm with eye contact or a nod they do it. And they tolerate everything my niece 3yo and nephew 2yo dish out. They share food because I free feed. I have seen them all eat at the same time, along with the cat. When it's time for bed they just pile up here in bed and they lay wherever. No one has to be in the same spot every night or anything. They treat each other well. Everyone gets along well. They even have an agreement among toys. NO one touches Shadow's Kong. And they don't fight over it, it's been that way since she got it. It's shadow's and no one else will even bother it. They all just get along well. They play together. I was just curious about that behavior. As I am finishing writing this Gracie got up and laid on the other side of the bed to be by Shugg and he licked her back and they all went back to sleep.

Ok congratulations on your (actual) pack of dogs, you are doing very well and they are secure and happy.  Can't say that about most of the people who ask questions of me since few are experienced enough to accomplish it.  It is normal for a male (especially intact, but at his age even after being neutered he will be "intact" in his head/behavior) to acquiesce to females in the multiple dog household, and this is a sign of good temperament and good leadership from human caregivers!

So far, this "obsessive" and obviously highly anxious licking is a one time occurrence.  If it occurs again, take Gracie to the veterinarian for a thorough evaluation (comprehensive blood chemistry, full body x-ray, orthopedic evaluation, etc.)  When one dog (Shugg) displays sudden and intense anxiety and affiliation (nurturing behavior) toward another out of the clear blue sky, it can mean that he (Shugg) *knows*, smells, senses something going awry in the other dog in terms of physiology.  It can also mean (and we won't know that until we give it another week or two of observation) that Gracie gave subtle body communication of discomfort (slight physical injury, gastrointestinal discomfort) that has now abated and that Shugg was reading that body language (in a manner we are unable to without intense scrutiny) and reacting to it.  Let's observe for a week or so and report back if it occurs again, using followup feature.  GREAT pic!  Thanks for sharing.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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