6 Reasons Your Dog Keeps Licking the Couch

Written by Amber LaRock
Updated: September 2, 2023
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We know our dogs can do some strange things from time to time, but licking the couch is a dog behavior that puzzles many. A couch doesn’t seem like a tasty snack our dogs would be interested in, so a sudden interest in licking the sofa seems out of left field. It’s especially strange when your dog makes a normal habit out of licking the couch, leading us to to seek out the reasons behind this odd canine activity.

Couch licking is actually quite common among our canine friends, and the behavior can be tied to everything from boredom to compulsive behaviors. We want to help you get to the bottom of your dog’s couch licking, so let’s break down everything you need to know below.

Let’s dive in!

There are several reasons why your dog could be licking the couch.

Licking Is a Natural Behavior in Dogs

Tricolored Beaglier dog licking its muzzle in a sitting position.

Licking is a common behavior used for self-soothing in dogs.

©L Galbraith/Shutterstock.com

Before we discuss the possible reasons why your dog is licking the couch, we should first help you understand the significance of licking for dogs. Licking is not only something our dogs do when they want to taste something, but it is actually a common behavior they use for self-soothing. Just as you and I may bite our fingernails when we are nervous or overwhelmed, or dogs may resort to licking objects around them.

Licking is so soothing of a habit for some dogs, that there are now pet products on the market that cater to canine anxiety through licking. One of the most well-known products is the licking mat, which involves rubbing a tasty spread of some kind on a rubber mat and encouraging your dog to lick it. Not only do these mats help to engage your pet and pass the time, but the repetitive action of licking can help to soothe them.

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 can be for dogs. Though we may think nothing of a dog that is licking a strange item, there may actually be a complex underlying cause.

Why Is My Dog Licking the Couch? 6 Possible Reasons

Now that you understand the significance of the licking behavior for dogs, it’s time to discuss the possible reasons why your dog is licking the couch!

1. Something On the Couch Tastes Good

white pugapoo sitting on the floor

Some dogs lick their couch due to a leftover spill.

©Rachelegreen / CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons – License

While some dogs may rely on licking to soothe them during times of stress, it is also possible that your dog is simply sensing something tasty on the couch. Whether you have just spilled food on the couch or they smell a trace of a previous food mishap, your pup may be searching for a delicious snack. This is also possible if you offer them treats on the couch, as they may be hoping to stumble upon any leftover crumbs.

2. They Like the Texture of the Couch

Tricolored Beaglier dog licking its muzzle in a sitting position.

Some dogs may lick furniture due to an interesting texture.

©L Galbraith/Shutterstock.com

While you and I may explore an interesting texture with our hands, our dogs have to rely on their mouths! Our canine friends explore the world around them with their mouths, and this can include 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 and Seeking Entertainment

Dogs may lick furniture out of boredom.

©iStock.com/Irina Vasilevskaia

If your canine companion is bored and looking for something to do, they may resort to licking your couch for entertainment. While this may seem like a strange way to pass the time, once you know how significant of a behavior licking is for dogs, this can begin to make a bit more sense. Licking objects is a way to pass the time for some dogs, so if your couch is nearby, it may fall victim to their tongue.

4. They Are Self-Soothing Anxiety

Bulldog licking front paw

Some dogs lick to self-sooth, which may lead to skin irritation.


As we discussed above, licking is a common self-soothing behavior for dogs. It is so effective that there are a variety of products that stimulate the licking behavior, and most of these products aim to relieve canine stress and boredom. Not only is couch licking common for dogs with anxiety, but you will likely see them licking other objects as well. Some will also lick their paws any time they are stressed, and this can lead to serious skin irritation for these poor pups.

5. They Have Developed a Licking Compulsion

A yellow lab licking its owners hands

For some dogs, licking becomes an obsessive compulsion.

©Tina Rencelj/Shutterstock.com

If it seems like your dog is licking the couch at any given chance, then it is possible they have developed a form of obsessive compulsion. These dogs may appear frantic if they cannot access the couch, and they might even display forms of aggression if they are pulled away from the behavior.

If you think this could be the case for your furry friend, then it is essential to determine any possible stressors that could be present in their life. This could include a change in environment, the sudden loss of an owner, a new person in the home, being left alone for long hours, a new animal in the home, 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 are unable to offer them any relief, then it might be time to reach out to your vet for help. Dogs with obsessive compulsive behaviors can often benefit from anxiety medication, so it may be worth exploring for your little one.

6. They Have an Underlying Health Condition

why do dogs lick themselves

Dogs may lick due to an underlying health condition.

©Rattanapon Ninlapoom/Shutterstock.com

If your dog is struggling with an underlying medical condition that is causing nausea, then this could cause them to lick and eat strange objects. While couch licking could be one of their main symptoms, you will typically notice other behavioral changes as well. These symptoms can include a change in appetite, a change in their thirst levels, weight changes, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and even coat changes. If your dog is experiencing other strange symptoms in addition to their couch licking, then we always suggest reaching out to your vet for guidance.

How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Licking the Couch?

A corgi puppy licking its owner's hand

Our canine friends explore the world around them with their mouths.


Couch licking in dogs is a strange habit that many pet parents want to nip in the bud. While the underlying cause of couch licking in dogs will range from pup to pup, 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 on your couch thoroughly, as this can prevent them from licking the area later.
  • Stop offering them treats or bones on the couch, as this could cause them to associate the couch with tasty food.
  • Increase their amount of daily exercise, as a tired pup is less likely to participate in any undesirable behaviors due to pent up energy.
  • Address any causes of stress in your home, as this could be leading to their self-soothing behaviors.
  • Integrate licking mats into your routine, as this will allow them to channel their licking in an acceptable way.
  • Use bitter spray on the couch if you cannot get your stop to stop licking, as they will soon associate the couch with a taste they do not enjoy.
  • Reach out to your vet for help if you cannot get your dog to stop licking the couch, as this could mean they are struggling with a form of OCD. This stands true if you think their licking could be due to an underlying illness as well.

Final Thoughts

Licking strange objects may seem like a weird habit to you and I, but it is unfortunately quite common among the dog population. Once you review the potential reasons behind your dog’s couch licking that we discussed in detail above, you can better address this odd behavior moving forward.

Summary of 6 Reasons Your Dog Keeps Licking the Couch

Here’s a recap of reasons behind your pet pooch’s behavior.

1Something On the Couch Tastes Good
2They Like the Texture of the Couch
3They Are Bored and Seeking Entertainment
4They Are Self-Soothing Anxiety
5They Have Developed a Licking Compulsion
6They Have an Underlying Health Condition

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Danielle W Press/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Amber LaRock is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics surrounding pet health and behavior. Amber is a Licensed Veterinary Technician with 12 years of experience in the field, and she holds a degree in veterinary technology that she earned in 2015. A resident of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Amber enjoys volunteering with animal rescues, reading, and taking care of her two cats.

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