Help! Why Does My Dog Lick the Couch?


Dogs love to lick. They will lick everything – from that itchy part of their skin to newly painted walls of your home. But what if you found your dog passing his tongue over your couch? It’s odd but some dogs really do it. If it’s your dog, learn how you can help him cope with this strange habit.

Why Do Dogs Lick the Couch?

The simplest explanation for this is there might be food left on the couch. Check if there are crumbs or scraps of food fixed in the fabric. Dogs have a powerful sense of smell so they could sniff when there’s food on the couch even from afar.

If you have a fabric sofa, you can use baking soda to get rid of any lingering smell there. Sprinkle it all over your couch, let sit for roughly 20 minutes, and vacuum it up. If your buddy continues to lick it, then there could be another reason behind it.

For a quick and easy cleanup of leather furniture, rub it off with a soft cloth. There are also sprays and creams intended for cleaning leather furniture. You may use them to thoroughly clean your couch.

It’s important to clean your couch after your dog licks it. Did you know that a dog’s saliva contains over 600 different types of bacteria? The reason why it’s not easy for them to transmit diseases to people it’s because dogs and humans have different sets of bacteria in the body.

However, you can still get allergies from your pet’s saliva. This is due to the fact that it contains dozens of allergy-causing proteins. When the saliva on the couch dries, you can suffer from hypersensitivity as the proteins become airborne.

It is also possible that your pet is just drawn to a particular scent remaining on the furniture. Perhaps the scent reminds him of you and it’s his way of comforting himself while you are not around. This is due to the fact that your pet’s sense of smell is sensitive to the pheromones coming from you.

Other Reasons for Excessive Licking in Dogs

Do note that a dog’s licking behavior can go from normal to obsessive. If your dog licks the couch uncontrollably, there is a probability that there could be a bigger issue behind it.

Excessive licking is just one of the signs of behavioral problems in canines. Some dogs exhibit destructive behavior, aggression, hyperactivity, phobias, and weird repetitive habits. Here are the common issues associated with unnecessary licking:

Separation anxiety

Anxiety can cause a dog to do things excessively, be it licking, barking, drooling, and panting too much. Was there any recent event that could make him anxious? Perhaps he fears something or he’s separated from family members.

It’s believed that shelter dogs are more vulnerable to separation anxiety than others. These kinds of dogs either lost someone important in their lives or experienced abandonment before. Fear is a common issue with rescue dogs and it can be solved with positive reinforcement and training.

In case your people-loving pup suddenly becomes confined, it would help to talk to your vet. Perhaps he’s going through something painful or who knows, he’s already suffering from separation anxiety. But it’s still best to consult a vet because there are symptoms of separation anxiety that are almost the same as other disorders.

When ignored, a dog’s anxiety can turn into a serious behavioral problem. Aside from the need to lick compulsively, a dog may also sleep more than he usually does and display sudden withdrawal from any of his normal activities.

Before leaving your house, spend a few minutes with your dog. Take him out for a walk and reward him with food and water afterward. This is a smart way to help your dog rest and calm down while you are not around. Rewarding your dog, rather than punishing him, encourages positive behavior.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Compulsive disorders like OCD can occur in dogs, especially in those without enough socialization and stimulation. This is why it’s important to take a dog outside regularly and let him play. A dog with OCD will do other strange activities repetitively, such as chewing and barking a lot.

There might be times when he would stare blankly into space and if you give him a toy he will only suck it the same way he does to parts of his body. The other warning signs to keep an eye on are fly-biting and tail-chasing.

Only your vet can confirm if your pet is truly suffering from OCD. There are a series of medical exams that should be done to rule out other problems. Sometimes, the signs of OCD can be similar to other disorders.

Once confirmed that it’s OCD, your vet may prescribe fluoxetine formulated for animals. Fluoxetine, more commonly known as Prozac, is an antidepressant classified as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). It’s worth noting that this medication may or may not work for your dog. Don’t administer it without a vet’s supervision.

Attention-seeking behavior

If you are sure there are no food crumbs there and your pet is perfectly healthy, maybe he’s just attempting to get your attention. Did you say “No!” to your pet while he was licking the couch and he immediately stopped?

A dog trying to get your attention will do anything even if it means licking your furniture. If there are other people in your house, ask them if your pooch does the same thing when you are not around. Or if there is no one to ask, set up a camera to observe your pet’s behavior when he is all alone.

If your dog does not do it when you are not at home, it’s likely that he is just trying to get noticed. When you and your dog have been together for a long time, it’s just natural that your pet is addicted to you.

Both of you can benefit from physical and mental stimulation because it helps divert a dog’s attention. Your dog needs exercise as well as short training sessions. As his owner, it’s your responsibility that all his needs are being met so he will grow up as a happy and healthy dog.

Positive obedience training is said to be an effective approach for dogs with attention-seeking behavior. There are many ways to practice positive reinforcement. One way is avoiding punishments, which can hurt rather than help.

The Bottom Line

If your dog cannot stop licking the couch, it only means two things: either he’s smelling something there (food, drink, your fragrance) or he is suffering from a medical condition. Keep an eye for symptoms of anxiety, stress, and compulsive disorders as these are the ones usually associated with excessive licking in canines. If all the signs are present, schedule an appointment with your vet.


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