SOS: Why Does My Dog Lick the Couch All the Time
Pet ownership is not an easy feat. There are tons of things that you learn with each passing day. Having a pet in your house means that every day arrives with a new set of questions – especially for first-time pet parents. Between deciding on the best food brand and ensuring that your dog is physically fit, several questions dominate a pet parent’s mind round the clock.
For new parents, understanding a dog’s behavior is a big challenge. Most of them worry over a big question: why does my dog lick the couch all the time?
Dogs love to lick all things that come their way. It is their language of love. This harmless habit is not a cause of concern. At the same time, this seemingly ignorable habit may signify some medical emergency.
Why Does My Dog Lick the Couch All the Time – Should I Worry?
Not every unusual behavior of a dog requires medical attention. First-time dog parents will be surprised to know that their puppy’s odd behavior is just how a dog behaves. Licking is one of a dog’s natural instincts, and as such, it is not something to worry about. Sometimes, even experienced parents get a shock of their lives when they see their pet licking on the couch.
Many people who treat their pets as part of their families have no issues with a dog licking on their furniture. But it is true that damages to furniture are not a cheap expense. And if you have just replaced a couch, you wouldn’t want it to be all draped in a dog’s saliva.
Here are some of the ‘safe’ reasons for your dog’s licking habit:
What is an idle mind supposed to do? Dogs are high-energy creatures who love to roam around. Pets which stay alone at home for long hours or big dogs who live in small apartments and have no outdoor activities throughout the day are more likely to develop the habit of licking the furniture.
Your Dog Likes the Couch’s Taste
Do you have a habit of eating on your couch? Please don’t be embarrassed; we’ve all been there. Your dog may not be licking the couch but be interested in getting the taste of the food item it loves.
So, if you do have the habit of eating meals/snacks on the couch, you should develop a habit of thoroughly vacuuming the couch once you’re done. This step ensures that there are no residues, keeping your dog away from the couch.
The Couch’s Smell
Dogs have a sharp sense of smell. Unlike humans’, dogs’ noses are able to exhale and inhale at the same time. It allows them to catch on to new smells quickly. A dog can get attracted to the scent of almost anything.
If your dog has developed this licking habit all of a sudden, you should ask yourself a few questions: Have you replaced your old couch with a new one? Is there any new upholstery cleaning spray that you are using? If there has been any ‘change’ in the house, the chances are that they have led to the development of this habit in your dog.
The Couch’s Texture
Sometimes, the answers to several perplexing questions like ‘why does my dog lick the couch all the time?’ can be quite simple. Your dog may find the texture of the couch interesting. This is easy to explain. Dogs love chewing toys – and one reason for the toys’ likeability is their texture. Dogs love to explore new textures. Give some time and monitor your dog’s interaction with the couch. You can train your dog and ask them to ‘stop’ whenever it starts licking the couch to let it know that the item is off-limits.
Curiosity Drives the Dog
Cats, dogs, and perhaps any four-legged domesticated animal are curious. Pets are also territorial about their comfort zone and don’t like many changes around the house. In case there is a new addition in the house, dogs let their guard up and set out to check it out inside and out.
Your new couch may just be a victim of this unexplainable curiosity.
As mentioned above, dogs are territorial and love to have their stamp on objects to mark them are theirs. Your pooch is doing just that!
When Can a Licking Habit be Dangerous?
Licking the couch is not a harmful habit. Your dog is licking a non-toxic item. However, sometimes, the behavior itself is an indication of a major medical problem that your dog may be dealing with. The key is to see whether your dog gets ‘distracted’ quickly or if the licking is incessant.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Dogs with OCD are more prone to licking the couch quite frequently. Dogs who lick rather aggressively and are unable to get distracted are more likely to get diagnosed with OCD. Those dogs who have lived in a hostile environment, chained in small spaces, may develop this medical condition over time.
Dogs regularly complain about an upset stomach. Some dogs get their condition noticed through behavioral changes. Some reasons for a gastro problem are:
- Eating foreign bodies – bugs and other insects
- Food allergies
- Eating expired or stale food
- Kidney and liver diseases
- Intestinal parasites
Don’t take this lightly and get your pet examined.
Many dogs lick couches because they are anxious. It may not be severe, but it is quite a painful and inconvenient feeling for your dog. Separation anxieties originate when a dog suffers from a massive change in its environment. If those pet parents who used to be with their dogs for a long time start leaving their dogs unattended and on their own, they may start showing the symptoms of separation anxiety. Factors like change in family routine, change of ownership, and loss of a family member or a companion pet may trigger anxiety in dogs.
Some dogs lick the couch when they have a stomachache. Most of such pains are harmless and go away on their own. Dogs develop stomach pain after they have eaten something other than their routine food.
A Dog in Stress
Distressed dogs also show the classic sign of licking the couch. Stress usually stems from the environment a dog is exposed to. Any previous injuries – or the trauma attached to it – change in environment, phobia, loud noises, etc., may act as triggers. Such dogs need special attention and care from their human parents to feel better and stop the licking habit altogether.
How to Stop a Dog from Licking the Dog
Are you at a point where you wake up from your sleep screaming, ‘why does my dog lick the couch all the time?’ Stressing out at this point will be putting your dog in a stressful spot. Here are some tips that can help you help your dog overcome the licking habit:
- Get a repellant spray: Dogs are averse to some smells. They hate vinegar and are also unlikely to lick a couch that tastes bitter – grapefruit, lemon, or orange. Use a DIY repellant spray or buy some from the market. Spray them on the couch to keep the puppy away from it.
- Training: The general consensus is that a dog’s puppy phase is the prime time when it can get trained. Older dogs are not up for training periods. However, you can still try and take help from commands like ‘leave,’ ‘no’, etc., to help the dog break away from the habit.
- Get chew toys or treats: If you start putting out several options in front of your dog, they will get distracted and leave the licking to some other time. Chewing toys are a great way to keep the dog occupied while simultaneously ensuring that your couch remains sparkly clean and safe from dog damage too.
- Positive reinforcement: No one likes ‘angry’ tones of their family members. For your dogs, you are the family. Instead of showing anger or getting frustrating, you should use a positive reinforcement approach to stop your dog from licking your furniture.
- Get your dog some exercise: Dogs who lick couches out of boredom desperately call for some high-energy activity. Taking your dogs out for an exercise session will be great for distracting the dog.
- Keep the couch clean: As mentioned above, food leftovers may attract a dog to lick the couch to get the food particles off them. If this is the reason, you should always keep an eye on the couch’s cleanliness. Keep it food particles-free all the time.
A Call to the Vet
If your dog is showing symptoms that tell it might be ill, you should make a vet visit. Getting your dog examined by a doctor is the best way to rule out any serious medical condition. Delaying a vet visit may be disastrous for your adorable puppy, who may just be acting out to show that it is in distress.
The Final Word
Pet parenting is a challenging task. Both new and experienced dog parents have their moments where they second-guess themselves. The key is to relax a little. A dog’s strange behavior can easily be reversed with the help of a few steps. You can plaster your vet’s messaging app with ‘why does my dog lick the couch all the time?’ questions as well. But there is a need to know that such behavioral issues do crop up with time. If the habit is harmless, you can work it out on your own. But if your gut says that there is something not right – health-wise – you should talk to your vet.