Dogs are easily bored and they are pros at hiding pain. Sometimes dogs can harm themselves with excessive licking, chewing or hair pulling, so it is important for a dog owner to determine the cause of the behavior and take steps to correct it. Your dog may be reacting to stress, boredom, separation anxiety or a medical condition that can be diagnosed by your veterinarian.
Consider any recent changes in your dog's environment, food, medications or shampoos. Your pet may be pulling out its hair to alleviate an itch or skin rash due to an allergic reaction.
Take your dog to the vet. A veterinarian can run blood or skin tests to determine if your dog is suffering from an allergic reaction.
Try to determine what might be causing the allergic reaction by eliminating things one at a time. You shouldn't stop giving your dog any prescribed medications without your veterinarian's approval but you can change your pet's food, shampoos or flea treatments to narrow the field of possibilities.
Wash your dog's feet when he comes in from outdoors, especially in climates with lots of ice and snow. The salts and chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate your dog's paws.
Ask your veterinarian about medications to alleviate your dog's allergic reactions.
Make sure your dog's coat is clean and free of matting. If your dog's hair is matted it may be pulling its hair out to relieve the problem.
Stress or Behavior Problems
Think back of any stressful or traumatic event or change in your pet's routine or environment. A new animal in the house or the arrival of a new baby often triggers stress in a dog.
Give your dog lots of attention and plenty of exercise. A bored, restless dog is more likely to chew or pull his hair out if he is left alone too long or confined to a small space like a crate.
Take your dog for a walk every morning and let him get some exercise while spending quality time with his favorite person.
Offer your dog alternatives to excessive chewing, licking or hair pulling. Give him toys to play with or bones to chew on. Alternate the toys to help alleviate boredom.
Recognize that the behavior may just be an obsessive compulsive response. Overcoming a habit is hard for humans and dogs as well. Changing your pet's habits may take some time and a lot of consistent effort on your part, but your pet's health could be at stake.
Ask your veterinarian if your dog should be medicated to resolve the problem. If your pet is pulling its hair out due to stress, there are several medications that can be given to relieve your dog's anxiety.