If your Labrador 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 Labrador 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 Labrador 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 Labrador licks everything
Below, I will show you a number of reasons why your Labrador has been doing it and what would make them more likely to be a 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 licking 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 starts doing 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. Labradors 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 Labrador isn’t actually licking things. Rather, it could be trying to smell things a lot which would be perfectly normal.
It’s greeting you
Often, dogs will great their owners by licking them. If your Labrador normally licks you in situations such as when you arrive home or when you are playing with it, being excited would be more likely to be the reason.
If your Labrador does 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
The reason why it does it could also be that it is looking to get extra attention from you. This would be more likely if you tend to start giving it more attention when it does it.
Instead, it would help to give it attention throughout the day by walking it, training it and playing with it. But, it would help to avoid rewarding it with attention when it starts licking you by making it stop and then giving it attention when it calms down.
It could be the case that your Labrador licks things due to an obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is involves licking repeatedly without being able to make itself stop. 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 Labrador 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 reason why it does it could be that there is something stuck in its fur. This would be more likely if it has been licking at the same spot a lot and if you can see that there is something in its fur.
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 it 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 if there is a certain time that it tends to do it more since it could be the case that the timing has 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 Labrador to stop licking everything
Below are some things you can do about your Labrador licking everything.
Take it to a vet
If it has started doing it suddenly, it has been showing signs of illness or it has been doing it excessively, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so you can get expert advice tailored towards your particular Labrador and to rule out illness or compulsive behavior as a cause.
Use positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement training involves encouraging the behaviors you want to see by rewarding your Labrador when it shows signs of displaying them.
To use positive reinforcement training to get your Labrador 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 Labrador to stop licking in the video below.
Give it access to water
It would also help to make sure that it has access to water throughout the day.
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. This would be more likely if it has started doing it since a change in its diet.
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
You could also try giving it things to be distracted with such as toys, bones and puzzle games.