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Muzzle to prevent licking - suggestions?

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One dog seems to have an OCD need to lick our wooden floors (mostly) and our area rugs (sometimes, but not too often). I would like to stop it as much as possible. She has been switched to raw food - suggestion of one vet who thought her system may be 'unbalanced' and thus, she feels the need to lick.


And I do not want to keep chastising her every 30 seconds. Alternatively, there is no way I could keep her attention for several hours straight as an attempt to prevent licking. I guess I could keep her in a crate more since she doesn't seem to lick when in her crate.


Another alternative is to put a muzzle on her so she is physically prevented from licking. I have searched Amazon and found this muzzle




Unfortunately it is out of stock.


Any suggestions for another brand of muzzle that will serve the same purpose? The majority of muzzles will still allow the dog to lick, even though it may prevent barking, biting, chewing.


BTW, while I was searching muzzles, I was a little freaked out by the muzzles that have ferocious teeth designs.


Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

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I prefer a muzzle that allows the dog to pant. The Baskerville muzzle is by far the best I've used, and I think it's more comfortable for the dog. I've used one on a limited basis to disrupt Hannah's habit of foraging for wild rabbit droppings.





ETA: Ah, I didn't read this part, sorry: "The majority of muzzles will still allow the dog to lick, even though it may prevent barking, biting, chewing." There is a similar muzzle that has a piece that fits between the dogs nose and the end of the muzzle. I've heard them called Italian basket muzzles. In any case, it is narrower at the nose, so it may work. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005GWV74K/ref=asc_df_B005GWV74K5310912/?tag=hyprod-20&creative=394997&creativeASIN=B005GWV74K&linkCode=df0&hvadid=218421090408&hvpos=1o4&hvnetw=g&hvrand=16506522580906206686&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9007814&hvtargid=pla-355168351156


ETA2: The one you posted actually looks perfect.

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To keep a muzzle on the dog all of the time would be a shame, in my opinion, and I would not do that.


There must be some other way to stop the behavior, which is what you really want. Making the dog wear a muzzle 24 hours a day (except when outside) only prevents it, doesn't address the behavior.


Have you tried to train her out of the behavior, or to stop completely when you tell her to?

If not, this is the thing to do.

If you have, to no effect, then you need to try a different training method.



I have not had this problem the way you seem to have it. One of my BCs does lick the rug, the floor, the side of the couch. She would continue endlessly if not stopped. I simply tell her to stop.


She is trained to know that if I tell her to stop, she has to stop, because if she does she gets something good and if she doesn't she will be confined somewhere for a few minutes and she doesn't like that.


A similar training would probably work on your dog. simply chastising her is not effective, as you have discovdered. There need to be consequences....a good one if she stops, (praise and treat) and a less good thing if she doesn't. (something benign but that the dog doesn't like).


You might also try a behaviorist, and/or different toys. Two of my dogs love to lick their toys, but it has to be a very specific kind of toy.


I don't think the solution is to keep a muzzle on this dog for the rest of her life.

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You don't have to keep a muzzle on the dog for the rest of her life. The idea is to break the power of habit, while working on getting the dog to stop the self-rewarding behavior. For example, when my dogs are out with me during clean-up, I've placed a muzzle on Hannah to keep her from eating rabbit droppings. It is not used as a training tool. It is used as a tool to prevent self-rewarding, habitual behavior during short periods of time when you aren't focused on the dog and ready to interrupt/redirect the behavior by other means. I certainly wouldn't keep a dog muzzled for an extended period of time.


I think every dog should be conditioned to accepting a comfortable muzzle. When I take my dogs to a vet whose tech might insist on a muzzle, I provide my own. That way, it won't have an ill fitting muzzle foisted upon it. It is far less traumatic for a dog to be muzzled if it has been conditioned to accepting one.


I think the toy idea is a good one. I actually give Hannah a ball when we are outside, which definitely cuts down on the foraging as long as the droppings aren't fresh. We have actually made quite a bit of progress.

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Going with the suggestion D'elle offered of a toy to lick, there are also 'lick mats'. I first heard of them on the Facebook group, Canine Enrichment. They have a grooved surface where you can apply smashed up foodstuffs. I do have to say, though, that I haven't tried one myself due to the concern that they might encourage OCD licking.** I don't want to start my dogs on a habit they don't have. However, if they were already determined to lick, I think I'd rather them lick a mat than the floor.

**ETA: I haven't tried one on my dog either... Sheesh that was worded badly.

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To address D'Elle's concern: it was never my intent to keep a muzzle on 24/7. As per terrecar, the intent is to try to interrupt or break what has become a troublesome habit. I have already used distraction techniques, verbal interruptions, calling her to me and rewarding, and a bit of tethering. There are periods throughout the day when she will just NOT stop licking despite my best efforts.


She does not lick her bed in her crate - so that is a bit of relief.


This habit started a few months ago before and since we have moved into a new house. She never licked the wood floors in our prior house. The new house is a -- new house. The wood floors are newly laid and finished with an oil-base product - which I now think may be the problem. Of course, I could be completely wrong.


Neither of my other two dogs are interested in licking the new floors, but Natt started licking them when we started to come to the house to work on projects a month or so before moving in -- and has continued to lick after we moved in although I wash the floors to remove ???.


I am hoping that as we live in the house and as the floor-finish cures, she will become less interested in licking. At the same time, I worry about it becoming a habit if I don't try and prevent her from licking as much as possible.


I am motivated to try and stop her licking because her licking and her seizures are somewhat correlated. (I know correlation and causation are not the same thing, but I am grasping at straws here.) I wonder if licking the floor-finish is poisoning her system, hence the seizures.


Note: I have consulted both a vet who practices traditional western medicine and also a vet who practices Chinese herbal medicine. (She used to practice traditional medicine, but is now 100% TCVM.) They are both comfortable with using a 2-pronged approach. We are throwing everything we can think of at it.

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The other possibility with the licking and seizures is that she's having some sort of aura - maybe even an olfactory one - that she's responding to and that are making her lick. Or even licking ARE some low grade types of seizure (if she's not responding when you're trying to interrupt).

Either way, yes, prevention good.

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Hmmm. Interesting thought: licking may be a low-grade seizure. I have heard that invisible fly-biting behavior can be a mild seizure. (I think I read it on these boards.) Why not licking? I am not discounting anything.


I can interrupt her licking, but she will pretty quickly go back to licking (when she is in one of her licking periods) once she knows I am not paying attention to her.

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I'm doing a lot of transferring from human epilepsy, but I know that sometimes seizures can look like a tic, or a short period of inattentiveness (including mine), as well as the fall down and convulse ones. Fortunately, even if it is (and if she's responsive it may well not be/probably isn't) those are the very not-scary and super benign ones.


And as a total aside: Congrats on the new house!

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The dog is licking because it makes the dog feel better in some way.


If you want to stop the licking, you need to provide the dog with a substitute behavior the fulfills the same need to the dog as licking. Which is why chastising, redirection, etc have not worked. I suspect that the licking behavior grew stronger, more desperate after you chastised, redirected.


If you simply muzzle the dog, it will likely develop another behavior(s) that fulfills whatever need the licking fulfills. And that behavior can be worse than the licking. Or when you remove the muzzle, the licking will return with a vengeance, although it may not happen immediately.


I do have experience in this area--have been trying to find a replacement behavior for unacceptable self-reinforcing behaviors that occur after agility runs has been really hard. There is a science (and art) behind all of this.


Attempting to stop the behavior by simply muzzling the dog won't work and will create other problems.

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It does sound as though the floor finish being the cause is a strong possibility, from what you said.


New houses are full of seriously toxic chemicals these days.


If it were my dog and my floor I would refinish the floor with something else that I am absolutely sure is non-toxic, because if your dog really is licking any of the floor finish off, and it seems as though she may be, it definitely will poison her, and you may not see the effects of that right away. It may cause cancer or something of the kind.


I know that's a pretty tall order, refinishing a new floor in a new house; maybe not even possible for you financially.

I personally would do it, though.

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Thanks to everyone for their thoughts. I am considering all options.


With regard to the diet issues: that was the first thing the TCVM vet considered. Even though all her blood work was normal (are there other tests in addition to the normal CBC and blood chemistry that would help diagnose GI issues?), she felt that it would be appropriate to put her on a raw diet. I am fine with that - so now 2 months on a raw diet. It hasn't helped in her case. I was quite disappointed not to observe an improvement because the vet has had several clients who almost immediately became better once switched to raw - but they had outward symptoms of GI issues to start with - vomiting, reluctance to eat, diarrhea. Natt eats vigorously, never vomits (well, maybe a couple of times in 18 months) and has well-formed and regular feces.


Rug licking - she will lick the floor more often, but will also lick rugs. I would say 85-90% floor licking.


And even though I am not certain the floor licking is causing her seizures, I certainly agree that a new house needs time to 'cure' of smells and fumes.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I live in an older farm house with old wooden floors. I do find some of the dogs licking the floors occasionally, not in places where there might be a piece of food dropped etc. I often wonder about it but they simply stop when asked so no big deal.


Have you contacted the breeder or sibling owners to determine if other related dogs are prone to this behavior? I am always amazed what small behaviors run in lines. Might shed some light on the matter.

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Thanks for the thoughts. I would not completely dismiss that her floor licking could be partly a stress behavior, but we are a fairly calm household (I know that what I consider calm may not be calm for a certain dog). And I will certainly keep the idea of an Adaptil collar in the back of my mind.


Right now, we are working with the theory that the licking may be a sign of an 'imbalance' in her system, and that this 'imbalance' could lead to seizures. Her nervous system may be acutely sensitive to diet (see below). The TCVM vet suggested feeding her meat broth (not bone broth) for a couple of days to see if her floor licking behavior changed. And it did! The floor licking dramatically decreased by at least 75-90%. But obviously, she can not live on meat broth so she went back to the raw diet with additions and changes to the Chinese herbs prescribed based on this new information.


Unfortunately, she has had one (or two) more cluster seizure episodes. And they are dramatic - with 10-14 seizures within a 24 hour period. I feel so bad for her, but on the other hand, currently the episodes are spaced about 3-4 weeks apart, and the remainder of the time, she is a happy, normal dog.


The TCVM vet has admitted that she has never had a dog NOT respond to a raw diet combined with Chinese herbs. (And my dog is also on Keppra and Zonisamide prescribed by a traditional Western vet. Both vets are aware of the 2-pronged approach, and are fine with it.)


The latest approach is a GARD diet. The belief is that her system is so sensitive to glutamate and aspartate (neurostimulating amino acids) that they have to be severely restricted in her diet. I certainly hope it works for her. She has now been on the GARD diet for about 9 days, and the floor licking has decreased significantly, but is still happening at a lower level.


If the GARD diet doesn't work, I have one last resort - to get an MRI to rule out (or in) a brain tumor or brain cyst - both of which are low probability. Luckily, I have just heard of an equine facility about 90 minutes from me where I may be able to arrange an MRI for about 35-45% of the cost of an MRI at the vet teaching hospital. (I live about an hour away from the vet school at VA Tech.)


Such a learning experience. Darn these border collies that are pharmacoresistant to anti-seizure drugs.


With regard to contacting the breeder or sibling owners: I have not thought about pursuing that avenue, but the dog has sort of been passed on, and I am her 3rd home. I do know she has a couple of dogs in her pedigree that are a couple of generations away that did produce some epileptic pups.

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My dog has been resistant to seizure meds as well. Plus he really reacted badly to them at higher doses. Sleeplessness, restlessness, barking for attention, GI issues, eating his poop, always hungry.


He does sometimes compulsively lick the floor in the kitchen, typically in the area near where we would thier food bowls down. I chalk that up to him being always hungry.


A raw diet and supplimenting with coconut oil, tumeric, and CBDs, with melatonin at night, has really helped him calm down between seizures. I have paired his seizure meds down slowly, now he is just on a small amount of Potassium bromide, we eliminated Keppra and Phenobarbital entirely. His seizures occur every 14 to 16 days, but he does not cluster and bounces back quickly.


So in Cowboy's case I chalk the floor licking up to food issues. Not self soothing. Only does it in the kitchen.

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