Let’s Ruin: Dog Shaming – Excessive licking

I follow Dog Shaming on Tumblr. While their posts are occasionally good for a chuckle, many of the photos make me cringe (“please don’t tell me you actually believe that’s why your dog did that” or “it’s not a shame your dog did that, because she’s a dog” or “as your dog’s owner, how did you continue to let that happen? Because your dog could have been seriously injured/killed.” or “you know that’s a behavior you can work on with your dog, right?“). I totally understand the desire to publicize your dog’s odd behavior – like how my dog seems to think her collar is a cozy nap buddy – but the posts that suggest a bizarre rationale for a dog’s behavior, or complain about a perfectly normal dog behavior that could/should have been managed better by the owner, or bemoan a real problematic dog behavior that apparently is going unaddressed by the owner…it’s worrisome!

I understand that Dog Shaming is supposed to be funny, but I’ve got to ruin it. So many of us have welcomed pups into our homes and there seems to be a good portion out there that don’t really understand how dogs think or normally behave. Without understanding what normal dog behavior is and why dogs do the things they do, humans tend to resort to inefficient and potentially inhumane ways of coping with or changing the dog’s behavior – or even ignoring a behavior that is a sign of real distress or harmful to the dog.

Example #1: A recent Dog Shaming post reads:

Sadie is a Jack Russell Terrier mix that my wife and I rescued 3 years ago. She is a complete sweetheart and loves to groom herself while sunning on our bed. However, she has careless disregard for what she is licking while primping herself and always leaves a gross wet lick spot on the comforter. Fortunately, I can’t stay mad at that face for too long.

The Sign reads :
96% Comforter 4% Paw –
I think this is an acceptable lick ratio when grooming myself
– Sadie

Guess what? Far from being a eye-tongue coordination issue, excessive licking in dogs has been shown to be a pretty fair indicator of an undiagnosed gastrointestinal (GI) disorder! In a study from the University of Montreal Veterinary Teaching Hospital, researchers found that nearly 75% of dogs that excessively licked surfaces had an undiagnosed GI condition and once that condition was addressed, the excessive licking behavior resolved. The researchers hypothesized that the excessive licking may pacify feelings of nausea or abdominal discomfort for dogs.

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