Why My Dog Can't Stop Licking

If your pup's licking, he may have enjoyed his meal — or has a sore.

If your pup's licking, he may have enjoyed his meal — or has a sore.

Your dog's tongue isn't only good for lapping up water or stuffing his mouth with food. It's also a tool to thoroughly soak everything in your home, including himself. Licking your carpet is usually a sign of compulsive behavior, while wetting his paw might indicate an injury.

Look at where your dog's licking himself. Dogs that lick themselves usually do so because the area they're tending to is injured or bothersome. If you notice his skin is flaky, your furry friend probably has dry skin. If he's licking his paw, he might have something stuck in or between his pads. Even if you're fairly certain as to what's bothering him, visit your vet, as your dog might have allergies, fleas, skin infections or another medical problem that needs attention.

Inspect the objects that your pup licks. Couches, carpets and bathtubs are often victims of thorough canine tongue cleanings, and for good reason: dogs easily find crumbs or residue on those objects that they enjoy lapping up. A bit of milk that was unknowingly spilled on the carpet will keep your dog's attention for quite some time. And although it's disgusting for humans, soap is a tasty treat for some dogs, and there's no better place to find leftover residue than a bathtub.

Determine when your little guy begins licking. Once you rule out medical problems, crumbs and food or chemical residue, it's time to start digging into what's causing your dog to lick everything he can. Usually there's a situation, such as fireworks, that cause him to become stressed or worried and he'll lick himself or objects as a result.

Remove the bothersome situation from his environment or condition him to accept it. Simply shaking an orange juice carton might trigger his behavior if he's had his ears cleaned, because you have to shake the ear solution before using it. Shake all bottles away in a separate room where he can't see or hear the shaking. For a situation you can't put a stop to, such as fireworks or thunder, condition him to accept it by introducing him to a mild version of the situation and rewarding him for being calm. For example, play thunderous-like noises on your computer at a low volume. Once he reacts calmly to the sounds, reward him with a treat and gradually increase the volume.

Tell your your pup to do something else when he begins turning your couch into a monsoon of saliva. Ask him to come or retrieve a toy, for instance. Put him in a different mindset and he'll stop licking, for a little while at least.

Tip

  • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals explains even after stressful situations are removed, the compulsive behavior might still stick with your pup. That's why taking his mind off of the behavior is important.

Warning

  • Never yell or discipline your dog for licking. If he's licking because he's stressed, you're only going to make the situation worse. If he's licking because of an injury, he'll have no idea what you're angry about.
 

About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

Photo Credits

  • the dog licks lips image by Sergejs Nescereckis from Fotolia.com