Your pooch's quirkiness is part of her charm, but sometimes odd behaviors become concerning. While your furry friend naturally explores with her senses of smell and taste, obsessive or compulsive licking indicates a problem. If your dog compulsively licks couches, carpeting and beds, you should figure out why.
Your first concern is to decide whether your four-legged friend's couch, carpet and bed licking qualifies as an obsessive or compulsive behavior. Difficult as it is to believe, your dog may have a perfectly good reason for licking these surfaces. Crumbs on the furniture and floor are obvious inducements. If you use a lotion or other topical product with a yummy smell that lingers after you get up off the bed or couch, that's another. However, if your pooch licks for no apparent reason, if she does it often or aggressively and in a repetitious way, if she seems completely spaced out while licking or if you can't interrupt or stop her, it's an obsessive or compulsive behavior.
Obsessive and compulsive licking in dogs have a few standard causes. Your dog probably singled out the couches, carpet and beds for "acceptable" reasons before the behavior became obsessive or compulsive, and it has since escalated. The most likely explanations are that your pooch is under-stimulated, under-socialized or experiencing stress and anxiety. Canine cognitive dysfunction, which is basically dementia in dogs, and other neurological problems also cause obsessive and compulsive licking, as can other illnesses. Allergies, parasitic infections, digestive disorders, pain and other problems can all prompt your pooch to do strange things, including lick your floors and furniture.
Increase Stimulation and Socialization
Start by assuming the problem is too little stimulation and socialization, because it's the most probable explanation for your dog's weird licking behavior, and because there's no downside to increasing attention and activity. Of course, put in a call to your vet, to see if he wants to schedule a checkup. Exercise and play with your pooch, get her some new toys, enroll her in a doggy day care, take her to the park, set up pup playdates with a friend's pet, get a compatible second dog or otherwise find ways to stimulate and socialize your dog more. If boredom and loneliness were causing her to obsessively or compulsively lick the couches, carpet and beds, the behavior should quickly fade away with these sorts of remedies.
Obviously, the reason your canine companion keeps licking the couch, carpet and bed dictates the solution. Stress and anxiety are the next most likely explanation. Consider whether her environment has changed lately. For example, is there a new family member in the home, a new source of noise or an increase in confinement? Some changes can be undone, while others must be adjusted to; for the latter, talk to your vet about relieving your pooch's anxiety with a medication or supplement, aromatherapy, a constrictive canine coat or other measures. If a health problem is to blame, work with your vet to control or cure the condition. In the meantime, apply a harmless but unpleasant-smelling dog repellent to your couches, beds and carpeting. A little ammonia, vinegar, citrus or cayenne pepper scent often does the trick.
- Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images