Why do Australian Shepherds lick so much?

Why do Australian Shepherds lick so much?

We have seen a couple of dog owners in social media and different pet forums ask this question: “Why do Australian Shepherds lick so much?” This has brought a lot of conflicting opinions from different dog owners, but we are going to try as much as possible to give you a better answer according to our findings from professionals and personal experience.

To start with, Australian Shepherds are intelligent, loyal, and friendly dogs. They are popular as pets and are known for their energetic and active personalities.

However, one trait that many owners of Australian Shepherds have noticed is that these dogs tend to lick a lot. This behavior can be confusing and frustrating for owners who are trying to understand why their dog is licking so much. In this article, we will look into some of the possible reasons why Australian Shepherds lick so much.

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Why do Australian Shepherds lick so much?

They Are Showing Affection and Seeking Attention-Seeking

One of the most common reasons why Australian Shepherds lick so much is simply because they are affectionate dogs who love attention. Licking is a way for these dogs to show their love and affection towards their owners. In many cases, Australian Shepherds will lick their owners when they want attention or when they are feeling lonely and need to play with their owners.

You taste and smell good

Dogs have an acute sense of taste and smell, and licking is a way for them to explore their environment. Australian Shepherds may lick objects, people, and other animals to taste or smell them. Although this behavior is particularly common among puppies, including Australian Shepherds, who use their mouths to explore the world around them.

It’s a Sign of Anxiety and Stress

One of the major reasons why your  Australian Shepherds lick so much is because they are anxious and stressed. When dogs are nervous or upset, they may lick excessively as a coping mechanism.

This behavior can be particularly problematic if it leads to self-injury or becomes compulsive. If you notice that your Australian Shepherd is licking excessively, it is essential to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

In fact, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), excessive licking can be a sign of anxiety, stress, or boredom in dogs. The ASPCA recommends that pet owners provide their dogs with plenty of exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction to reduce their stress levels.

It’s a form of communication for them

Dogs communicate in many ways, including body language, vocalizations, and behavior. Licking is one of the ways that dogs communicate with their owners and other dogs. When an Australian Shepherd licks you, it could be their way of saying hello, expressing affection, or seeking attention. Dogs are social animals, and licking is a way for them to connect with their human companions.

Grooming and cleaning

Dogs naturally groom themselves by licking, and Australian Shepherds are no exception. They may lick themselves or other dogs as a way to keep themselves clean and free of dirt and debris. Additionally, Australian Shepherds may lick their owners as a way to clean them, or to remove any dirt or food particles from their skin or clothing.

They may be bored or lack stimulation

Australian Shepherds are a high-energy breed that requires plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. If they are not given enough opportunities to exercise and engage in activities that challenge their minds, they may become bored and start engaging in repetitive behaviors such as excessive licking. Providing your Australian Shepherd with plenty of exercise and activities that stimulate their mind can help reduce this type of behavior.

Probably a medical issue

Finally, excessive licking can be a sign of underlying medical issues in Australian Shepherds. Skin allergies, infections, and other health conditions can cause dogs to lick excessively. If you notice that your Australian Shepherd is licking a particular area of their body excessively or showing other signs of discomfort, such as scratching or biting, you should take them to the veterinarian for a checkup.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, skin allergies are a common cause of excessive licking in dogs. Allergic reactions to food, fleas, or other environmental factors can cause dogs to scratch and lick their skin, leading to irritation and inflammation. Other medical issues that can cause excessive licking in Australian Shepherds include gastrointestinal problems, pain, and dental issues.

How do I get my Australian shepherd to stop licking?

Here are some tips to help stop your Australian shepherd from excessive licking:

Identify the underlying cause

As mentioned above, excessive licking can be caused by various reasons. Identifying the root cause of the behavior will help in developing an effective solution. If your Australian Shepherd is licking so much due to stress or anxiety, try to identify the triggers and minimize their occurrence. If the licking is due to a medical condition, take your dog to the vet.

Provide alternative behaviors

Provide your Australian shepherd with an alternative behavior that is less harmful, such as chewing on a toy or playing fetch. This will redirect their attention away from the licking behavior.


Teach your Australian Shepherds the basic obedience commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it.” When you catch them licking, use the command “leave it” and reward them when they stop. This will reinforce positive behavior and discourage the licking.


Exercise plays a major role in stopping your Australian Shepherds from licking so much. Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise and mental stimulation. A tired dog is less likely to engage in unwanted behaviors such as excessive licking.

Use bitter spray

If your dog is licking a specific area, you can use a bitter spray to deter them. The bitter taste will discourage them from licking the area.

Remember, it’s important to be patient and persistent when training your Australian shepherd to stop licking. With time and consistency, you can help your dog overcome this behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do Australian Shepherds lick their paws?

Australian Shepherds, like many other dog breeds, may lick their paws for a variety of reasons. Here are some possible explanations:

  1. Grooming: Dogs often lick their paws as part of their grooming routine. They may lick their paws to remove dirt, debris, or loose fur.
  2. Allergies: Australian Shepherds, like many other dogs, can develop allergies to environmental factors such as pollen, dust, and grass. Allergies can cause itching and discomfort, which can lead to excessive licking and chewing of the paws.
  3. Boredom or anxiety: Dogs may engage in repetitive behaviors such as licking their paws when they are bored, anxious, or stressed. If an Australian Shepherd is not getting enough physical or mental stimulation, they may turn to licking their paws as a way to self-soothe.
  4. Injury or pain: If an Australian Shepherd has an injury or is experiencing pain in their paws, they may lick the affected area as a way to alleviate discomfort.

If you notice that your Australian Shepherd is licking their paws excessively or if you are concerned about their behavior, it is always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian. They can help identify any underlying health issues and provide treatment options to alleviate your dog’s discomfort.

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