Why Does My Dog Lick The Couch All The Time?
[All you need to know]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Have you been seeing your dog licking the couch a lot recently? Does this make you wonder what is wrong and how to avoid this licking by your dog? Then you have arrived at the right destination.

When your dog licks the couch, there are two primary reasons to be worried about. Firstly, it is a cause of concern for your dog’s health and wellness. Secondly, the incessant licking on the couch and other home furniture can affect its usage life. This, in turn, will unwantedly increase your expenses around repairing or replacing the same.

Based on our personal experience at the dog training academy, we will share our expert insights into the dog licks’ probable causes. Following that, we will also take you through the remedial measures by which you can stop them licking the furniture. As a dog owner, it is imperative to identify the causal link behind the licking—post which, we can devise a strategy for preventing the same in the future. So, let’s begin by describing the main causes.

Key Reasons Why Your Dog Is Licking The Couch

Dogs lick the couch many times due to behavioral or health-related issues. The reasons could range from spilled food crumbs to human scents to obsessive behavior and so on. So let’s try to pinpoint the exact reason behind this.

Your Dog Enjoys The Taste

You may have spilled some snacks while sitting on the couch and watching your favorite shows on TV. This results in the deposition of food crumbs, beverages, and other leftover bits and pieces of food on the sofa, pillow, or nearby areas.

Dogs with their heightened olfactory senses will get the scent and pounce on the same in no time. The tasty treats lying on the soft couch fabric are like a gold mine for them. Another possible scenario could be your body odor in the sofa fabric that attracts the pooch. If you are a couch potato, there are more chances of them being attracted to the scent of their beloved human.

Lack of Stimulation or Boredom

Licking is a way for them to interact and sense the things present in the outside world. If your dog does not receive adequate physical exercise and release of energy, they will be susceptible to demonstrating such unwanted idiosyncrasies. 

This situation can cause your dog to get anxious due to the pent-up nervous energy. They will then tend to release this in unnatural ways that can include repeated licking of home furniture. This is a sign that you are not engaging them in enough outdoor activities like walking in the park, games, etc. 

The licking can also be an attention-grabbing mechanism by the dogs to their owner. They may do this when feeling left out or being uncomfortable with the home and surroundings.

Once you have such physical activity sessions, the excess unused energy in the dog will get burned off.

Underlying Health Issues

When dogs go out of their way by doing something unnecessary, it may be an indication of a health problem. As canines are unable to communicate verbally about their issues, stress, and physical pain, they display such gestures to convey the message to the owner. 

If you have noticed the licking behavior happening too frequently in the recent past, we highly recommend you seek the help of a medical professional/vet. Couch licking, chewing, scratching are all examples of such symptoms.   

For instance, they may resort to licking the couch if they suffer from tooth pain, stomach issues, anxieties, etc. The chance of your buddy suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder(OCD) also can not be ruled out if the licking repeatedly happens over a period. 

This coping mechanism of your pet can badly affect your quality of life. We will look into the preventive measures later in this article.

An Unwanted Habit

Sometimes there may not be any diagnosable medical condition your dog is suffering from. For example, couch licking may be just out of a bad habit. They may have licked the couch once, savored the taste, and continued to do so.

It would be best to try to prevent this behavior using reinforcement and training techniques, which we will discuss in the upcoming section. But, first, try to analyze the reason behind adopting this bad habit. It can be due to a change in environment or any other external stimulus that caused them some anxiety.

In addition, your pup may have enjoyed the texture of the couch. Some dogs find suede irresistible, and they start to lick on it due to its unique smell and taste. Dogs also find couches made from microfiber immensely attractive. 

Compulsiveness can be one of the root causes behind such behavior, requiring immediate looking into and medical consultation.

We have so far seen some of the top reasons behind the licking behavior of dogs. However, before we head over to the preventive measures, we will list some factors to consider about your dog’s couch licking.

Factors To Consider About The Dog Licking Behavior

There are a few parameters with which you can assess if this act of couch licking is a cause of concern or if it can be ignored.

Initiation Trigger

Try to identify what other events happened before your dog licked the couch. For example, it might be a case where an external stimulus caused your dog to start licking.

For instance, leaving them alone for long durations can make them anxious (Separation Anxiety), and it can kickstart this bad habit. Or a piece of their favorite snack might have gotten stuck on the couch. It is not always easy to identify this trigger, but it is worth giving it a shot if possible.

Timing Of The Licks

Check if your dog licks the couch or sofa at a particular time slot during the day. They may be feeling hungry due to the delay in the feeding time. The licking can be a type of conveyance method to express that they are hungry.

If they lick the couch more when you are away from home, this behavior can be an outcome of separation anxiety.

Frequency Of The Licks

You can also consider keeping a tab on how often your dog indulges in the licking. If the iterations are too many on a daily basis, then this act narrows down the chances of OCD. This situation demands a check-up with your vet. 

Considering these aspects, we will now move ahead to the next section, where we will speak about the remedial measures for the dog licking behavior.

Ways To Prevent Dogs From Licking The Couch

Positive Reinforcement

It may have happened that you unintentionally encouraged your dog while they licked the couch. The next time the dog starts licking, wait for them to stop. After that, give them their favorite snacks or pat them to convey that licking is considered bad behavior.

This will discourage them from continuing to do it in the future.

Balanced Diet Plan

Lack of required nutrients can lead to a feeling of an unfulfilled diet. This, in turn, prompts your dog to resort to such unwanted acts that falsely convince their mind to feel nourished. 

As a responsible dog parent, take care to feed them nutritionally balanced meals. We strongly recommend getting a diet prescribed by your trusted vet or a professional dog trainer. Experimenting with a different food for your dog by yourself can be dangerous for their health.

Digestive Issues

A sick stomach can also be a reason for licking. Apart from the couch, dogs also tend to lick the air and other external entities like grass when they have digestive issues.

Based on the expert guidance from the dog trainers at our academy, here are some foods that are safe to feed them if they suffer such issues.

  • Boneless Chicken with skin taken out
  • Cooked rice
  • Oatmeal (Rich in fiber and aids smooth bowel movement)
  • Plain yogurt without added sugar (One tablespoon mixed in food. Artificial sweeteners can be harmful and toxic to your dog) 
  • Pumpkin (Great remedy for loose motions/Diarrhea)
  • Occasional bananas
  • Sweet Potatoes

Apart from these items, ensure to provide them plenty of clean water, especially during stomach upsets or digestive distress. This will fasten their recovery.

Expert Consultation

If signs of OCD or other health issues are showing up, always get it checked out with your veterinarian at the earliest. The more you wait, the worse the symptoms turn out to be. They will provide you with expert guidance and medical prescriptions tailored to your dog.

Provide A Distraction

You can attempt to stop the dog licking by providing them alternatives to lick at. For instance, a chew toy or a nice juicy bone can keep them hooked for hours at a stretch.

Improve their mental stimulation levels by engaging them regularly with dog puzzles and games. This will help them to avoid boredom and channelize their energies productively.

Obedience Training

Teaching them basic commands to stay and avoid licking. Ensure to reinforce this behavior when they show even the smallest of improvements.

You can always seek the guidance of an experienced dog trainer to help you out with the training process.

Bitter Tasting Sprays 

You can repel your dog from licking your microfiber or suede couches by using bitter sprays on their surfaces. For example, a lemon-flavored spray has a scent that dogs in general hate.

It will discourage them from licking on the couch anymore. This exact measure proved extremely useful in warding off the puppies in our academy from licking all over our guest couch. 

Physical Exercises

Getting physical exercise is equally significant as mental stimulation. Take your dog out for plenty of walks, and engage in outdoor games on a regular basis. These actions will help to utilize their excess energies properly. It will also reduce the tendencies to showcase such unwanted behavior to vent out their unused nervous energy.

Outdoor games can also keep the dogs in a good mental space and help regulate anxiety, depression, and stress symptoms. In addition, spending quality time with dogs can cement the emotional bond between you two.

Concluding Thoughts

Although dogs use their sensory receptors on the tongue to interact and get a feel of the outside world, excessive licking is a matter of concern for dog parents. Instead of getting panicky, we recommend you to keep calm and identify the causal factor(s) behind such behavior from your furry buddy.

Once you have identified the driving force, devise a remedial strategy to prevent or control its occurrence in the future. Never hesitate to get help from medical professionals or dog trainers. Their rich experience in handling the dog’s behavioral or medical issues can be of use to you.

Providing them the right diet along with physical and mental stimulation is pivotal to see improvements. The point to keep in mind is you can not expect results suddenly. The durations vary from dog to dog. Some may stop licking in a few days. For other canines, it can take months.

Be patient, follow the remedial process or training with perseverance, and gradually you will begin to notice a fall in the constant licking.

We hope our article will act as a stepping stone and guide for you and your dog to get over the couch licking. Do strictly follow the pointers described here by our team of dog training experts, and you will start to see solid results in due course of time.