It is an undeniable fact that dogs like to lick couches, sofas, and cushions. If you have this problem and are looking to find out why it happens and how you can stop your dog from licking the couch, then I hope my personal experiences below give you some insight into what to do.
When your dog starts licking the furniture, such as couches and chairs it can be frustrating for a number of reasons. Firstly, is it a signal that you should concerned about your dog’s health? Secondly, upholstered furniture is expensive to buy and expensive to replace. The constant licking can damage furnishings.
Why does my dog lick the couch? Dogs that lick couches all the time do it due to various reasons such as behavioral or medical issues. It could also be due to tasty spills on the cushions, or there are smells from your own body on there. Bored dogs often lick and chew items around the house because they are looking for stimulation.
So that’s the short answer, but we need to break it down a little to try to ascertain why your dog is licking the couch and sofa. Some dogs do it after drinking water, some love the feel of suede and microfibers.
Most importantly it’s essential to try to figure out whether it is anything health related.
Let’s take a closer look.
Why does my dog lick the couch all the time?
To stop your dog licking the couch or otherwise biting items and bits of furniture around the house, it is important that you first pin down the reason that your dog is licking your couch, cushions, sofa, or bed.
1. Your dog likes the taste
The simplest explanation is taste.
Many people will eat while sitting on the couch to watch TV. This can often result in crumbs, splashes of sauce or just leftover bits and pieces being left lying around the on your furniture.
Dogs will naturally sniff these out and eat them, licking the nice tasting treats off of the fabric. To stop this, make sure that you clean off all of the debris from eating off of the sofa, as well as training your dog to understand that food on the sofa is not allowed to be eaten.
Another taste and smell related factor can be your own body odors. You will have seen how dogs like to smell the crotch of certain people. Well, if you think how long you could have sat on your couch, and how all those interesting smells have transferred to the sofa seat.
2. Your dog could be bored
As mentioned above, dogs use their mouths to interact with the world around them, and tasting things goes hand-in-hand with that.
A dog that is anxious or bored often looks for stimulation to relieve their excess energy, which is often why the end up chewing or licking couches, your personal belongings or other pieces of furniture.
If you are finding that your dog is acting up, being more boisterous or chewing or licking things around your home, be sure to take them on long walks to get rid of that excess energy that they are looking to burn off through their activities.
This can also be helped by giving them a new toy or a chewable toy (see which chew toys I recommend) which can often go a long way to occupy them without them causing damage to your interior furnishings. There are also some fun toys I recommend that have worked really well with our own Frenchie Claude.
Handy Hint: I don’t recommend rawhide chews as there can be a slight risk with the bones. To find out why I don’t recommend rawhide read this recent blog post.
3. Your dog could have a health issue
Sometimes when dogs act outside of their normal behavior, it can be a sign that they are trying to communicate to you that something is wrong. Dogs cannot verbally tell us that they are feeling unwell, stressed or even in pain, so they give us clues through their physical behavior.
Is your dog licking the couch a new behavior?
If your dog is ever acting out of the ordinary or you have noticed things like licking or nibbling have gotten steadily worse for no obvious reason, it is best to visit a vet for a medical opinion. Couch licking and chewing that suddenly start up can be a sign of a underlying health issue.
Handy Hint: As French Bulldog owners you need to be aware of the multitude of health problems this breed can suffer with.
Excessive couch licking can be a sign of many different things, from tooth pain, diseases in the pituitary gland to behavioral issues and anxieties from their environment. Compulsive behaviors often related to anxiety issues include spinning, chewing, sucking, biting and even tail chasing.
While these are all common dog behaviors, they can become a coping mechanism that is to the detriment and disruption of your daily life. This will often be considered a compulsion and measures can be taken to relieve or train them out of it.
4. Your dog has a bad habit
Sometimes there is no anxiety or compulsive cause behind the issue, and it is simply down to a bad habit. Maybe they licked the couch once, enjoyed the sensation and now continue to do it.
This can be a sign of growing anxiety, similar to and can even lead to compulsive behaviors, so it is best to nip it in the bud as soon as possible.
While simply training them to understand that licking the couch is not allowed can lead to them not having anything to relieve that stress on, it is best to also give them something else (such as a new toy) to occupy themselves licking or biting instead.
Also, check for reasons why they have begun to have excess worry, including changes to their environment or other things that may be causing them more anxiety.
- Why does my dog lick my suede couch? The feel of suede can be quite comforting to an anxious dog. Suede will have a certain taste and smell to that might prove irresistible to your dog’s senses.
- Why does my dog lick my microfiber couch? Just like suede, microfiber also has a texture to it that is very appealing. Just like the rest of the advice here, it could also be due to a compulsive disorder.
How do I stop my dog from licking the couch or sofa?
While there is a school of thought that aggression towards your dog lets them see you as the master in order to behave, fear and physical punishment are actually far more likely to cause your dog stress and anxiety than actually training them.
This can often do the opposite of what you intend, with their behavior getting worse because of their confusion or unhappiness. Instead, positive reinforcement training is a far better and more effective solution to training your dog out of negative behavior.
1. Positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement training is achieved by rewarding your dog for good behavior, rather than punishing them for bad ones. Using a clicker and treats allow them to learn that bad behavior does not get them rewarded, either through treats or praise, while good behavior does.
This can be used for many different issues, including chasing, barking, picking things up, stealing food, going to the toilet inside and even stopping them from licking your couch.
Over time, the rewarded behavior will become second nature to them, and their unrewarded bad behavior will be unlearned and fade into the background.
2. Bitter tasting sprays
The spray you can buy is a bitter lemon spray. It is supposed to taste super nasty to dogs, so might be worth giving a shot. I found a product on Amazon that has reasonably good reviews.
3. Give them plenty of exercise
I referred to this earlier, and sometimes it can be the simplest thing that works; more exercise.
A bored dog or one with excess energy will act out to give itself more mental stimulation. This can manifest itself by couch licking, so get them out of the house and running around more than normal.
I’ve not touched much on the health issues that can mean your dog licks the couch all the time, and there’s a good reason for doing so; I am not a vet.
However, I have read multiple online journals written by vets to try to better understand why dogs like to lick couches and have put some readable notes together below.
I hope this helps.
Why is my dog constantly licking himself?
As mentioned above, there are multiple reasons your dog is licking something; however, if you have noticed that they are licking far more than what is normal for them then it is important that you know exactly why it is so you can help them.
If your dog is not just licking your couch and furniture, but is also excessively licking themselves, then it can be a sign that your dog is suffering from allergies.
Allergies are one of the most common reasons for dogs licking themselves and is often seen in the excessive licking and chewing between their toes, their hindlegs and their inner thighs.
Dog allergies can often result from the build-up of dust or pollens, as well as flea bites and even certain dog foods, and can also be seen through symptoms such as crusting skin, changes to skin colour or wounds or pimples appearing under their coat. Here are some common skin problems that dogs suffer with.
If you think your dog may have an allergy issue, please consult with your vet for a proper medical diagnosis.
What medical issue could it be?
The danger with looking up symptoms and issues online is that you will enviably run into the conclusion that you or your pet has some kind of terrible disease or disorder. While this usually isn’t the case, Cushing’s Disease (read more on the Blue Cross website) is the most common form of endocrine (gland) disorder found in dogs.
Along with hyperadrenocorticism and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), Cushing’s Disease can be a cause of excessive couch licking.
Some of the symptoms of Cushing’s Disease include increased thirst and hunger, excessive panting, a pot-bellied abdomen, loss of hair, thin skin (easy bruising) and muscle weakness.
The disease is usually caused by a benign tumour in the pituitary gland or adrenal gland, which can be shrunk via medication or removed through surgery.
Handy Hint: If you are concerned that your dog may be suffering from Cushing’s disease or any other condition, please visit your vet for a professional opinion and medical diagnosis.
Why is my dog licking the air and eating grass?
While licking the air can occasionally be a sign of a more serious medical issue, from pain and nausea to seizures, usually a dog licking the air is just a natural way for them to interact with their environment.
Like snakes and many other animals, dogs use their sense of taste as an aid to smelling and sensing the world around them, meaning that when you see them occasionally licking the air, they are most likely simply smelling something interesting.
This is a natural way that many animals take in smells, including species of cats, dogs and horses. The animal curls their upper lip back and wrinkles their nose, allowing their Jacobson (vomeronasal) organ to properly take in a full range of smells and chemicals from the surrounding area.
Before or afterwards, they may also lick the area of interest to take in more smell or taste of what they are inspecting. This is a completely natural and normal behavior, although it can look like they are smirking or looking disgusted at something at times!
The real reason for why so many dogs eat grass is still up for debate, with some considering it a natural result of dogs being omnivores while others speculate it to be a leftover instinct from undomesticated dogs.
However, whatever the reason for it, dogs do tend to eat grassm and love doing it! If your dog typically eats grass, there isn’t much to worry about (some dogs apparently enjoy the taste); however, if your dog does not usually eat grass and is suddenly eating far more than they normally do, then it is best to keep an eye on it.
Grass is harmless for dogs to eat, but some do self-medicate with it when they are feeling nauseous or want to throw up, so it can be a sign of intestinal discomfort.
If your dog enjoys eating grass, then there is not much you can do to stop them, especially out on walks.
However, if you want to make sure they stay out of your herb garden (or if you are worried about them accidentally ingesting pesticides or other chemicals) then some owners do bring in trays of grass or sections of turf into the home for their dog to chew on.
This can help to stop them munching on any precious house plants or areas of your garden you don’t want them near.
Handy Hint: For more information on grass chewing, read this guide to why it happens and measures you can put in place to stop it.
How do you settle a dog’s upset stomach?
Excessive licking of couches and eating grass can both be signs that your dog is feeling unwell, and once you have a vet’s confirmation that your dog is feeling unwell you can start to look for ways of remedying it.
While sometimes your vet will prescribe your dog medicine, sometimes it is more of a waiting game for the nausea to pass, which can be distressing and rather messy for both you and your dog.
However, there are some foods to feed your dog to help settle their stomach:
- Boneless and skinless chicken (cooked, raw chicken can contain salmonella or other bacteria).
- Boiled rice (cooked).
- Plain, unsweetened yoghurt (add one tablespoon to food. Artificial sweeteners can be bad or even toxic for your dog).
- Pumpkin (great natural remedy for diarrhea) .
- Oatmeal (source of fiber, great for bowel issues).
- Sweet potatoes (read more about potato and dog’s diets)
- Bananas (feed in moderation, because of high sugar levels).
- Plenty of water. Like humans, dogs need to keep hydrated when feeling unwell, so make sure they have enough water in their bowl at all times.
After the worst of the sickness has past, slowly reintroduce portions of your dogs’ normal food into their meal over the next couple of days.
Handy Hint: Do not give your dog any over-the-counter pain or nausea medication unless okayed or prescribed by your vet. Always check with your vet first before giving your dog any kind of human medication, as this can be harmful or even fatal to your dog.
Is your dog’s couch licking habit is getting out of control, either to the detriment of your interior furnishings or even their own personal well-being?
They are known for it and there isn’t any method guaranteed to 100% stop it; they do it to taste, to show affection and to generally interact with the world. They don’t have any hands, after all, so putting things in their mouth is the next best option.
However, if after trying my tips above your dog is still licking the couch all the time, you might want to consider a vet’s visit.