It can be quite frustrating when your dog keeps licking things. This post will show you why yours might be doing it and what you can do to get it to stop.
So, why does my dog lick everything? Possible reasons why your dog licks everything are that it is thirsty or hungry, it has an illness, it is anxious, it is an obsessive-compulsive disorder or that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded.
Since there are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been doing it, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the main cause, it should become easier for you to figure out what to do about it.
Why your dog licks everything
Below are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been licking everything and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason.
Thirst or hunger
The reason why it has been doing it might be that it is thirsty or hungry. This would be more likely if it starts to lick things more when it does not have access to water or it has not eaten in a while. It would also be more likely if it does it right after being active and it does not have access to water. It could also be the case if it has started doing it after a change in its diet.
In this case, it would be important to make sure it has access to water whenever it might need it and that you are feeding it correctly.
The cause could also be that something has been causing it to be anxious.
This would be more likely if it licks things more in situations where it might be anxious or if it has started doing it more since something happened that could have caused it to be anxious.
It would also be more likely if something triggers it to do it such as the doorbell ringing. It would also be more likely if it does it repeatedly in the same area such as on the floor or the couch and there is no food there.
It might also be the case that your dog licks things a lot due to an obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is where it does an action repeatedly and it cannot stop doing it. This would be more likely if it has been licking things excessively over the course of weeks or months.
This would also be more likely if it started doing it after something happened that might have caused it to become stressed such as an owner passing away.
Possible things that could have happened could include:
- Someone mistreated it
- Another dog was aggressive towards it
- It was separated from another dog
Look here for more information about compulsive behavior in dogs.
It’s greeting you
Sometimes, dogs will great their owners by licking them. If your dog normally licks you in situations such as when you come home or when you are playing with it, being excited would be more likely to be the reason.
In this case, it would help to reward it when it does not lick you and to avoid giving it things that it wants when it starts licking you.
Something stuck in its fur
The issue could also be that there is something stuck in its fur. This would be more likely if it has started licking itself suddenly and if it has been licking at the same spot.
Encouraging the behavior
It could also be the case that your dog has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. If you tend to give your dog things such as toys, treats or extra attention, when it licks things, it will likely do it more in order to get rewards.
The reason why it does it might also be that it is looking for extra attention. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when you have not been giving it much attention and if you tend to give it extra attention when it does it.
It would help to follow the tips mentioned below, to reward it when it is being well behaved and to avoid rewarding it when it does lick things unless it seems to be due to a reason such as being thirsty.
The cause might also be that an illness has caused it to have a sick taste in its mouth. This would be more likely if it has started licking things suddenly and if it has been showing other signs of being ill such as being sick. In this case, the best option would be to take it to a vet.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when it first started doing it
If your dog did not always lick everything, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as learning that the behavior gets rewarded, anxiety or illness.
What is different when your dog licks everything
It would also help to consider if there is a certain time that your dog tends to do it since the timing might have something to do with it. For example, if it tends to do it more when it has just eaten, it could be the case that there is an issue with its diet.
What to do about your dog licking everything
Below are some things to can do when dealing with your dog licking everything.
If your dog has been doing it excessively, it has been showing signs of being ill or it is concerning you, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you will be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog and to rule out the possibility of medical causes.
Reduce reasons why it might be anxious
As mentioned above, it might be the case that anxiety has been contributing to the behavior. It would help to limit possible reasons why it might be anxious by doings things such as feeding it, giving it exercise and letting it pee before leaving it for a long time.
Ensure that it has access to water
It would also help to ensure that it has access to water throughout the day since being thirsty could be the cause.
Ensure that it is getting the right diet
It would also help to make sure that it is getting the right diet since a poor diet might be contributing to it.
It would help to consult with your vet about its diet, to make sure no one else has been feeding it and you can look here to see what you should and shouldn’t be feeding it.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might also be the case that it has learned that the behavior is rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it with things such as attention when it does not.
Positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training involves encouraging the behaviors you want to see by rewarding your dog when it shows signs of behaving that way.
To use positive reinforcement training to get your dog to stop licking everything you would tell it to sit or come to you and reward it when it does not lick things when it normally would.
The video below shows some tips on how to do it.
Give it distractions and redirect its focus
Another option would be to redirect its focus onto something else when it seems likely to start licking things. Things to give it could include toys or bones.