If your Golden Retriever has a habit of licking everything you might be wanting to know why and what you can do about it.

This post will show you a number of possible causes and what would make them more likely.

So, why does my Golden Retriever lick everything? Possible reasons are that it is thirsty or hungry, trying to smell something better, it is excited, it wants attention or that it is actually a compulsive behavior.

There are a number of reasons why your Golden Retriever might be doing it and it could be due to a combination of them. However, there are also a number of things you can do about it.

Why your Golden Retriever licks everything

Below, I will show you a number of reasons why your Golden Retriever might be licking everything and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.

It’s thirsty or hungry

The cause 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.

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.

It’s trying to smell

The cause could also be that it is trying to smell the thing to gather information. Golden Retrievers have a strong sense of smell and they use their noses a lot to gather information about things as discussed in this post. It might be the case that your Golden Retriever isn’t actually licking things. Rather, it could be trying to smell things a lot which would be perfectly normal.

It’s greeting you

Sometimes, dogs will great their owners by licking them. If your Golden Retriever 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. If your Golden Retriever does tend to lick you a lot, I have written more about why it might be the case in this post.

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.

It wants attention

It could also be the case that it does it for extra attention. This would be more likely if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention or 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.

Compulsive behavior

It could be the case that your Golden Retriever licks things 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.

It would also be more likely if your Golden Retriever started licking things excessively when something happened that would cause it to develop behavioral issues such as an owner leaving.

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 has something in its fur

The cause could be that there is something in its fur. This would be more likely if it has been licking the same spot constantly and it has not been licking other things so much.

It’s anxious

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.

Things to consider

When it first started doing it

If your Golden Retriever did not always lick everything, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start doing it.

If it always has licked things a lot then it would be more likely to be natural behavior.

Whereas, if it started doing it suddenly then it would make it more likely to be due to being anxious, ill or it might have gotten something in its fur. It would help to consider what else happened at around the same time that it started to lick everything.

When it does it

It would also help to consider the timing of when it does it since the timing could also have something to do with it.

For example, if it does it more when it does not have access to water, it could be because it is thirsty.

How to get your Golden Retriever to stop licking everything

Below are some options you have when getting your Golden Retriever to stop licking everything.

Take it to a vet

If you are unsure why your Golden Retriever has been licking things or it has started doing it suddenly, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to rule out illness as a cause and to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Golden Retriever.

Use positive reinforcement training

Positive reinforcement training is where you encourage the behaviors you want to see by rewarding them and avoiding rewarding bad behaviors.

To use positive reinforcement training to get your Golden Retriever 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.

You can watch more on how to make use of positive reinforcement training to get your Golden Retriever to stop licking in the video below.

Give it lots of exercise

It is also important to give your Golden Retriever daily exercise if it is a healthy adult. When they do not get enough exercise it can cause them to behave abnormally. Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day when they are healthy adults.

Give it access to water

It would also help to give it access to water throughout the day so that it can drink whenever it wants to.

Make sure its diet is right

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 on 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.

Give it distractions

In addition to the things mentioned above, it would also help to give your Golden Retriever things to be distracted with so that it is less likely to want to stimulate itself by licking things.

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Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.