Why do dogs lick everything in the house?

Answered by James Kissner

Dogs have a natural instinct to explore their environment with their mouths, and licking is a common behavior that stems from this instinct. However, when dogs start licking everything in the house, it can become a nuisance and a cause for concern for many owners. There are several reasons why dogs may engage in this behavior.

1. Exploration and curiosity: Dogs use their tongues to gather information about their surroundings. By licking objects, they can taste and smell different scents, which helps them understand and explore their environment. This is especially true for puppies, who are more prone to exploring the world through their mouths.

2. Boredom and excess energy: Dogs that are under-stimulated or not getting enough physical and mental exercise may resort to licking objects in the house out of sheer boredom. Licking provides them with a sensory experience and can serve as a way to release pent-up energy. It’s important to ensure that your dog is getting enough exercise, playtime, and mental stimulation to prevent boredom-related behaviors.

3. Anxiety and stress relief: Dogs may also lick objects as a coping mechanism for anxiety or stress. Licking can provide a soothing effect and help dogs calm themselves down when they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. This behavior is similar to how humans might bite their nails or engage in other repetitive actions as a way to self-soothe.

4. Attention-seeking behavior: Dogs are social animals and often seek attention from their owners. If a dog realizes that licking objects gets them attention, even if it’s negative attention, they may continue this behavior as a way to engage with their owners. It’s important to provide alternative ways for your dog to seek attention, such as through interactive play or training sessions.

5. Medical issues: In some cases, excessive licking can be a sign of an underlying medical problem. Dogs may lick objects if they are experiencing discomfort, pain, or itchiness in certain areas of their body. Allergies, skin infections, gastrointestinal issues, or dental problems could be possible causes. If you notice excessive licking accompanied by other signs like redness, swelling, or changes in appetite or behavior, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions.

To address excessive licking in the house, it’s crucial to understand the underlying cause. If your dog is licking out of boredom, increasing physical exercise and mental stimulation can help redirect their energy. Providing appropriate chew toys or puzzle toys can also give them an outlet for their natural chewing and licking instincts. If the licking is anxiety-related, creating a calm and secure environment for your dog, using relaxation techniques, or seeking the help of a professional trainer or behaviorist may be beneficial.

Dogs may lick everything in the house for various reasons, including exploration, boredom, anxiety, attention-seeking, or underlying medical issues. Understanding the root cause of the behavior and addressing it through appropriate training, mental stimulation, and potential veterinary care can help manage and redirect this behavior effectively.