Dogs have powerful olfactory senses, and they perceive the world through their noses and mouths. Also, they will lick things around. Licking is one of the commonest traits seen in dogs. By licking, they do a whole lot of things, from bonding with their loved ones to grooming themselves.
Your dog will not just lick tasty food on the platter or your face and hand; they may proceed to lick weirdest things as well. Don’t be surprised if you spot your dog busily licking your blanket, shoes, or any other belongings. Now, do you find your dog licking the couch too often? What’s the root cause of such behavior? Let’s read on to know more.
Is Licking a Natural Behavior in Dogs? Natural Tendencies
Yes, it’s common for your dogs to lick whatever they get their hands on. It could be the leftover food on your platter, your hand, or even on their paws. However, the licking behavior varies from one dog to the other. Some dogs might not indulge in excessive licking.
There are umpteen reasons why a dog licks.
1. Bonding and expressing emotions
One of the main reasons is that it’s a way of bonding and expressing their emotions. If you have more than one dog at home, you might quite often spot them licking each other. That’s their way of expressing their love for each other. When you retire to bed at night, it isn’t uncommon for your dog to lick your hands and face.
Wonder why? Well, that’s his way of conveying his love for you. He could also be doing the same to grab your attention. Perhaps you were away all day long, and now your dog wants your attention.
Licking is also a way in which the dogs groom themselves. You might often spot your dog licking his paws and then rubbing them on his face, over their snout, and the area surrounding their eyes. This is their way of cleaning themselves.
Then, coming to the stress factor. If there’s something that’s worrying your dog, he may resort to a whole lot of soothing behavior; licking is one of them.
So dogs lick instinctively, which is fine. But when it turns into an obsession and comes in the way of effective daily living, it’s a cause of concern.
Why Is My Dog Licking The Couch? 8 Possible Reasons
Now, coming to the topic. Have you seen your dog licking furniture too often, specifically the couch? Well, there may be an end number of reasons behind the same. Perhaps your dog is stressed, or he doesn’t have much to do throughout the day. To entertain himself he licks the couch. There are other causes as well. Read on to know more.
1. He Is Bored
When your dog lacks physical and mental stimulation, he’ll try to pass his time in whatever way he can. Licking is one of the behaviors a dog executes when he is bored. He will lick whatever he gets at hand. If your dog is obsessed with his couch, he may keep licking it consistently when he doesn’t have much to do.
When you are home after a long day’s work, you might spot your dog licking the couch where you are seated. This might be his way of attracting your attention. You were away from him for long. Now, he wishes for your undivided time and attention. When bored, your dog will resort to other traits also. These include barking or whining excessively, moving in circles, sleeping a lot, and even eliminating all around the house.
2. Your Dog Likes The Taste of The Couch
Do you have the habit of sitting on your couch and eating while you watch your favorite show? Well, that means you end up spilling bits and pieces of food all over the couch. Now, when your dog sits on the couch, his powerful olfactory senses help him track the scent of food in no time.
If your dog gets a clue that he’ll get pieces of food from the couch, then he’ll lick it each time with the expectation of getting a morsel of the tasty goodies he sees on your plate.
3. He’s Got Into The Habit
Sometimes there may not be any concrete reason for what your dog is doing. It’s just that he has developed a habit of licking the couch. Maybe he liked the taste of the food lying there. Or, perhaps whenever your dog sniffs the couch, he feels it smells exactly like you. Whatever may it be, smelling the couch has become a habit, and resorts to doing it repeatedly.
4. Your Dog Has OCD
Like humans, dogs are affected by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as well. According to animal behaviorists and veterinarians, dogs who lack physical and mental stimulation are more prone to OCD. It has also been seen that dogs living in kennels or shelter homes have shown an increased incidence of OCD.
Licking is one of the symptoms of OCD. In that case, dogs will lick the couch and anything he is obsessed with. Alongside licking, there are other symptoms as well. These include tail-chasing, spinning in circles, barking excessively, and also showing an inclination towards eating nonfood items.
If your dog is licking the couch, furniture, or anything else due to OCD, you must contact the vet. Trying to stop the dog from licking wouldn’t be of any use as that could trigger his aggression.
5. He Likes The Texture
It isn’t about the smell but the texture. Your dog likes the soft, cozy material your couch is made of. This makes him inclined to lick the couch quite often. If your couch is made of suede, you’ll find your dog licking it quite often. This may be because the softness and smoothness of the fabric attract your dog to the core.
6. The Couch Smells Similar To You
It’s no hidden truth that dogs have a strong sense of smell. When it comes to identifying their master’s smell, their noses become all the more active. So, if you often sit on the couch, it is quite evident that you’ll leave your smell there.
Perhaps your dog gets the smell of your perfume each time he sniffs the couch. This compels him to lick the couch quite often, especially on occasions when you are away from home. Your pet misses you, and to compensate for your absence he licks the couch.
7. He’s Stressed
If your dog is licking obsessively, it could mean that he is stressed. There may be several reasons for your dog to remain anxious. Like, there could be a change in his routine. You may have shifted to a new house. Or, you have your friend’s dog staying in your house for a few days since she would be out of town. Your dog doesn’t accept the new entrant and thinks his position is at stake. This could leave him stressed.
Whatever the matter be, dogs lick to soothe and comfort themselves. When your dog licks repetitively, it results in the release of endorphins or chemical hormones, which makes your dog feel better.
Licking is not the only way in which you’ll get to know that your dog is stressed. He will show other symptoms as well, like barking without a cause, pacing in circles, keeping their ears and tails erect, and the list goes on.
8. It’s the Sign Of An Underlying Health Issue
Licking isn’t just confined to behavioral problems. It could mean an underlying health issue as well. If your dog is licking the couch, furniture, or anything else persistently and showing other symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and so on, it could mean that he isn’t well. It may be that your dog is suffering from a gastrointestinal disorder, nausea, vomiting, or even an allergic reaction. A vet’s consultation is the need of the hour.
How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Licking The Couch?
It’s essential to identify the root cause behind your dog licking the couch. Once that’s done, you may proceed toward finding ways in which you can refrain your dog from doing the same. Let’s read on to know more.
1. Stimulate Your Dog Well
Every dog irrespective of size and activity level needs a sufficient amount of exercise each day to remain physically and mentally fit. You can take them out for a walk daily and also arrange for sufficient playtime in your fenced yard or garden.
At times when going out isn’t possible you can arrange for interesting games indoors as well. This will help your dog remain mentally stimulated. You can even get your dog challenging puzzles that would keep them hooked. If your dog is socialized well, then a play date with your friend’s pooch isn’t a bad idea indeed.
If you have a highly active and athletic breed, then engaging them in dog sports would be a good idea. If you have to leave your dog alone for some time of the day, then train it to live in a crate since its puppy days. Fill in its crate with its favorite toys and bedding to make sure that it feels like home. When given proper exercise, your dog will never get bored or destructive.
2. Don’t Encourage the Behavior
When you do something, be it right or wrong, and get acknowledged for the same, you are encouraged to repeat the behavior time and again. The same goes for your dog. If you have patted his head or pampered him with a treat when you spotted him licking the couch, your dog will get the cue that licking the couch will fetch him treats and cuddles. So, he would repeat the activity time and again, mostly in your presence.
3. Identify the Trigger and Eliminate It
While trying to figure out the problem, you would first need to find what is causing it. That will help you reach a solution quickly. If your dog is licking the couch because of stress, you need to find out the reason for his anxiety.
Perhaps your dog stresses out each time he hears the doorbell ringing. To comfort himself, he would run to the couch and start licking. If this is the case, you may acquaint your dog with different sounds, harsh to soft from his puppy days.
Also, if the doorbell sounds too harsh, you could go for one with a soft tune. In this way, your dog will not get stressed when the doorbell rings.
4. Spray On The Couch
If there isn’t any serious reason behind your dog’s licking the couch, then it’s for sure that he is doing it habitually. If you can’t break the habit in any possible way. Then you could try using deterrents. When talking about deterrents, bitter sprays top the list. They aren’t harmful to dogs. True that they taste bitter, but they won’t be toxic for dogs if they lick them.
So, if the couch is your dog’s favorite licking spot, put some spray there. The taste is so bitter that when your dog licks the surface with its tongue, he wouldn’t even go near the couch the second time.
5. Talk To A Vet
If you suspect your dog has OCD, then treating it at home will not yield positive results. It could make your dog even more aggressive each time you try to stop something that he is doing repetitively. So, a vet’s consultation is a mandate. It’s also safe to get your dog checked with a vet if his excessive licking behavior coincides with his lessened appetite and restless behavior. He might be suffering from a stomach problem.
Dogs are mostly interested in licking objects which have a soft texture like blankets, towels, rugs, bedding, pillow covers, couches, carpets, and so on.
All dogs don’t lick in the same manner; some lick slightly more than the others. However, this isn’t dependent on the dog’s age, gender, or breed type. The personality and the living condition however play an important role in influencing a dog’s licking behavior. Dogs who are stressed or left alone most of the time without any stimulation like more than others.
So to sum it up, if your dog licks once in a while it isn’t a cause for concern. However, if your pet is on a licking spree, and licks the couch to the extent that the furniture is on the verge of damage, then you need to take a call. Also, keep track of the timing, and frequency of licking. This will help you understand if your dog’s licking the couch is a thing or if it needs to be addressed at once.
Meet John Patterson, an accomplished Dog Trainer and a dedicated advocate for building strong human-canine relationships.With years of experience as a Professional Dog Trainer, John firmly believes that well-trained dogs are a reflection of patient guidance and unwavering care. Beyond his training skills, he finds solace in grooming and playing with dogs, nurturing their physical and emotional well-being.