Likeable Lick Mats!
I've been working with two clients recently where lick mats really came in handy for their dogs. These mats, which come in a variety of textures, allow you to spread some kind of yummy, soft food on the surface (peanut butter, cream cheese, or canned food, for example). Some designs have suction cups on the back so it sticks onto the floor, or a vertical surface like the fridge, or the side of a bathtub. They are typically made of silicone and can be popped into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
One of my clients has a puppy who was so wiggly-squiggly it was nearly impossible to dress him in his harness. This became very frustrating because it delayed his potty walks. However, a lick mat on the floor provided a simple solution.While he licked at the yummy canned food that was smudged on the mat, his mom could easily clip on his harness. This buys time to actually teach the pup how to remain still and calm for body handling and equipment donning.
In the second case, a couple told me they hadn't had a peaceful meal in a long time. Both their dogs were in the habit of barking and jumping on them throughout the meal to try to score some food and attention. We can address a situation like this by teaching the dogs to quietly settle down on a nearby dog bed, but that training can take some time to accomplish. The lick mats, however, resolved the issue immediately. Once each dog had their own mat, they licked at them contentedly for a full 20 minutes. The couple was so happy to finally have peace during their meals!
Other useful applications for a lick mat include:
Keeping the dog occupied during bath time
Helping him settle independently when guests come over
Providing an alternative activity so the dog isn't barking out the window, or chasing the cat, or pestering you for attention, or stealing taboo items
Even if your dog doesn't need a lick mat to avoid a problem behavior, it's still a fun activity to help enrich their day and relieve boredom! Note: with some dogs, you may only want to provide these lick mats under your supervision, as they may decide to chew it up after they've licked it clean.
For other enrichment ideas, please check out this article. And for access to a more detailed (and free!) enrichment presentation, click on the image below.
Virginia Dare is a certified dog trainer & behavior counselor with decades of experience. Her business offers live video consultations anywhere in the US for training and behavior help, puppy matchmaking services, and pre- and post-arrival counseling for new puppies. She also provides in-home, private lessons and behavior consultations in northern Fairfield and Westchester counties, Putnam and southern Dutchess counties.
Please visit www.NorthStarCanines.com/services to learn more, or contact me at 804.784.0120
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