Our expert says:
Dog Behaviour Expert
Hi Dewald, nice to hear from you! What often happens with dogs like this is that it could have become a habit (cyber vet is right!) and also that it could be a form of stress release for the dog. Although we humans may find it hard to understand why a dog will lick itself till it is raw, this behaviour does seem to help the dog to cope. It is hard without background knowledge to say why this started (if stress related), but I have seen this happen to dogs when there were changes in the home or the environment i.e. new neighbours, sickness in the family, new arrival (either human or canine), stress in the family itself, changes in routine etc, etc. We often do not realize how much our own stress can impact on a dog.
That your dog has only recently started biting his feet could very well indicate that it may be stress related. What I would suggest you try is to increase his physical activity by taking him for a walk daily and also stimulate him mentally by engaging in some fun games when you are home and do look at getting a variety of different chew toys which you can stuff with some treats/biltong etc to keep him busy during the day and take his mind off the licking. Vary these daily.
The second you see your dog start to engage in the behaviour, dont scream or shout (attention is attention whether negative or positive to most dogs), rather get his attention and distract him with a chew toy or a game.
If your vet does think that there could be an element of stress involved, then perhaps you could speak to him about using a product such as the Good Behaviour Calming Collar for a month to see if this will help.
Good luck and do let me know how it goes, thanks Scotty
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