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Why Dogs Lick Themselves Before Sleeping?

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You know that sound! You’re all settled in for the night with your pooch laying curled up on his blanket. Or, like me where he’s laying stretched out alongside you and taking up most of the bed. And then it begins. That slow, lapping sound that goes on and on and on… until we finally lean over and tell him to knock it off.

Do you ever wonder why your dog does this?

Well, it seems there could be a few reasons and once you’ve ruled out painful injury, tired muscles, an itchy insect bite or an irritating burr you need to consider allergies. Has he walked across a lawn recently treated with chemicals, have you changed your laundry detergent, or introduced a new food into his diet?

If you’ve wracked your brain and come up with nothing, it’s quite possible that it all boils down to a deep-rooted psychological need. And boy, are there are a number of theories in that regard.

The first one goes back to his young pup days. Once upon a time, your dog’s mother would devote copious amounts of time to licking and nurturing him as he laid cuddled up alongside his littermates. It was soothing, calming and a great memory to recreate when he’s trying to get to sleep. It’s certainly more effective for him, than counting sheep.

The second theory is that it gets him a little extra attention from his favorite human. Truth be told, just the fact that you have to lean over and tell him to please, please, please stop, has accomplished something positive as far as he is concerned. It has you interacting with him at the end of a busy day and in his mind, there’s nothing better than that.

Theory number three is that similar to senior humans, your senior dog is dealing with sundowner syndrome which can result in repetitive actions. After a busy day spent visiting the park, bothering the cat, enjoying a treat and barking at people passing the house, his mind is racing and he’s finding it hard to wind down for the night.

The fourth theory is that your dog hasn’t had a mentally stimulating day at all and he’s simply bored. The incessant grooming is his way of acting out and letting off a little pent up energy before settling down for the night.

How about another theory. This next theory is that your pooch could be suffering from separation anxiety. If he’s been left alone for a longer than normal period of time, his licking helps him cope. In fact, licking is known to release endorphins to help calm frazzled nerves.

And after playing out each of these scenarios; after trying to understand how you have done your dog wrong, it’s just possible that he’s simply grooming himself before bed. While dogs aren’t known for being meticulous, they do like to clean up before bed time. If it’s not going on for extended periods of time, worrying away fur, and if he seems content in his space, buying yourself a set of ear plugs may be just the ticket.


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