We know our dogs can do some strange things from time to time. However, licking the couch is a dog behavior that puzzles many. A couch doesn’t seem tasty, so a sudden interest in licking the sofa seems out of left field. If your dog habitually licks the couch, it may lead you to seek out reasons behind this odd canine activity.
Couch licking is actually quite common among our canine friends. The behavior can be tied to everything from boredom to compulsive behaviors. Let’s break down everything you need to know about pup couch licking!
Licking Is a Natural Behavior in Dogs
First, let’s discuss the significance of licking for dogs. Licking is not just for tasting; it’s actually a common behavior they use for self-soothing. Just as you and I may bite our fingernails when we’re nervous, dogs may resort to licking objects around them.
Licking is such a soothing habit for dogs, that several pet products on the market cater to anxiety-related licking. One of the most well-known products is the licking mat. A tasty spread is placed on this rubber mat and your dog is encouraged to lick it. Not only do these mats engage your pet, but they reenforce repetitive licking, which can be soothing.
While the cause of your dog’s couch licking is not always tied to anxiety or stress, it is still important to be aware of just how significant the behavior of licking is for dogs. There may actually be a complex underlying cause for near-constant licking. Let’s review some possibilities below.
1. Something on the Couch Tastes Good
While some dogs may rely on licking to soothe them during times of stress, it is also possible that your dog senses something tasty. Maybe you have spilled food on the couch and your pup regards it as a delicious snack. This is also likely if you offer them treats on the couch. They may be hoping to stumble upon any leftover crumbs.
2. They Like the Texture of the Couch
While you and I may explore an interesting texture with our hands, our dogs rely on their mouths! Our canine friends explore the world around them with their mouths, including the interesting texture of your furniture. If your pup is fascinated by the material that covers your couch, you may notice them licking the couch constantly.
3. They Are Bored & Seeking Entertainment
If your canine companion is bored, he may resort to licking your couch for entertainment. While this may seem like a strange way to pass the time, remember, dogs enjoy this behavior! Licking objects is a way for your pup to pass the time. If your couch is nearby, it may fall victim to his tongue.
4. They Are Self-Soothing Anxiety
As we discussed above, licking is a common self-soothing behavior for dogs. It is so effective that a variety of products seek to stimulate the licking behavior. Most of these products aim to relieve canine stress and boredom. Licking is quite common for dogs with anxiety, and your couch may be the prime target. She may also lick various other items around the house. Additionally, she may lick her paws when stressed, and this can lead to serious skin irritation for your poor pup.
5. They Have Developed a Licking Compulsion
If your dog is licking the couch every chance she gets, then it’s possible she has developed obsessive compulsion. She may appear frantic if she cannot access the couch. She might even display forms of aggression when pulled away.
If you think this could be the case for your friend, it’s time to determine possible stressors in her life. This could include a change in environment, the sudden loss of an owner, a new person or animal in the home, being left alone for long hours, loud noises outside of your home, and any other shift in their standard environment or routine.
If you cannot determine the source of your dog’s anxiety, or you aren’t able to offer her relief, then it’s time to reach out to your vet for help. Dogs with obsessive compulsive behaviors can often benefit from anxiety medication. This is worth exploring for your little one if it puts her at ease.
6. They Have an Underlying Health Condition
If your dog is struggling with an underlying medical condition that is causing nausea, then this could cause him to lick and eat strange objects. While couch licking could be one of his main symptoms, you will typically notice other behavioral changes as well. These symptoms can include changes in appetite, thirst, and weight. It can also involve lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and even coat changes. If your dog is experiencing other strange symptoms in addition to licking, we suggest calling your vet.
How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Licking the Couch?
Couch licking in dogs is a strange habit that many pet parents want to nip in the bud. The underlying cause of couch licking ranges from pup to pup. However, there are a list of tactics that can potentially put an end to the behavior for good.
Some of the most effective ways to get your dog to stop licking the couch include:
- Clean up any spilled food thoroughly, as this can prevent her from licking the area later.
- Stop offering her treats or bones on the couch, as this could cause her to associate the couch with tasty food.
- Increase their amount of daily exercise, as a tired pup is less likely to participate in undesirable behaviors.
- Address any causes of stress in your home, as this could be leading to self-soothing behaviors.
- Integrate licking mats into your routine, as this will allow her to channel licking in an acceptable way.
- Use bitter spray on the couch if you cannot get her to stop licking, as she will soon associate the couch with a bad taste.
- Reach out to your vet for help if you cannot get your dog to stop licking the couch, as this could mean she is struggling with a form of OCD. This also stands if you think her licking could be due to an underlying illness.
Licking strange objects may seem like a weird habit to us, but it is quite common among the dog population. Now that you’ve reviewed potential reasons for couch licking, you’re better equipped to address this behavior moving forward!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Danielle W Press/Shutterstock.com
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