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My Mini Poodle Baloo has a tiny tongue. And it seems like he wants to make up for its size by licking things constantly!
Whether it’s my fingers, the table, the floor or anything else that’s right in front of him, he loves to investigate it with his mlemmer.
Baloo is mostly focused on licking people. But there are other dogs who really love licking so much that they can’t resist anything that’s standing in front of them.
If that sounds familiar, stick around. Because in this article we’ll answer the question “why does my dog lick everything?”
Here’s a quick summary: The most common reasons why dogs lick everything are stress or anxiety, boredom, to show affection or to seek attention. However, your dogs licking could also indicate nausea or nutritional deficiencies. Another possible reason might be that he’s suffering from OCD or cognitive issues.
Why Does My Dog Lick Everything?
From your skin to his paws to your couch, your dog seems obsessed with licking. So what exactly is going on?
If your dog’s licking habits are starting to drive you crazy, don’t worry—there are ways to get him to stop. But the first step is understanding why exactly he’s licking everything. Here are a few reasons why your dog is licking all the time.
Dogs can get nauseous just like us!
There are several signs your dog might be experience nausea. This includes drooling, excessive swallowing, refusing to eat, vomiting, and, yes, excessive licking.
If you think your dog might be licking things in an attempt to settle his nausea, he may need to go to the vet. This is especially true if he’s showing signs of nausea, but seems unable to throw up. That’s a sign your dog might be experiencing bloat, which is a serious and potentially fatal medical condition.
If the licking happens all the time, this likely isn’t the reason, though. So, you should only be concerned if your pup has started licking things excessively all of a sudden.
2. Stress or Anxiety
If your dog is licking himself or other objects excessively, and there doesn’t appear to be anything medically wrong with him, he might be stressed.
When dogs feel stressed, they might try to self-soothe by licking. Licking releases endorphins, which helps your dog relax during times of stress or anxiety.
Pay attention to when your dog starts licking. If he’s licking when he’s in high-stress situations, he’s probably doing it to soothe himself. Be on the lookout for other signs your dog is stressed too.
Boredom is often the culprit for a lot of bad behavior in dogs. If your dog isn’t getting enough mental and physical stimulation, he’ll start finding his own ways of entertaining himself.
Dogs tend to experience the world through their mouths. So it’s no wonder they turn to licking when they start getting bored.
If your dog is licking a lot, consider how much stimulation he’s getting throughout the day. It might be time to start exercising some more or getting him to work with his brain.
Speaking of boredom, also make sure to get my free guide for a calm dog to understand your dog’s hyper behavior better.
4. Showing Affection
One of the first things that your dog learned when he was first born was that licking means affection!
His mother licked him to show love, and to keep him clean. Your puppy remembers this behavior and carries it with him for the rest of his life.
So if your dog is pretty focused on licking you or any other humans or animals in your household, he might just be trying to tell you he loves you!
5. Attention Seeking
If your dog is feeling a little neglected, he might be licking to get your attention. And you might be unintentionally awarding that behavior, too!
If your dog starts licking things, and you respond to him, even just by telling him “no,” that’s still attention. And attention is the only thing your dog wants!
Over time, this consistent behavior teaches your dog that licking is the right way to get your attention.
6. Cognitive Issues
Like humans, dogs can suffer from cognitive issues. These can come up as your dog ages, and his brain stops being as sharp as it used to be.
There are several signs your dog might be experiencing some cognitive problems. One sign is excessive licking, be it licking you, himself, or objects around the house.
You’re also likely to see your dog pacing or wandering, have problems with spatial awareness, seeming anxious, or less responsive in general to stimuli.
If you think your dog is struggling with cognitive issues, it’s important to go and see your vet. Although most cognitive issues don’t have cures, your vet will be able to help you come up with a plan for managing your dog’s symptoms.
Speaking of vet: have you ever thought about getting pet insurance for your dog? No? Then check out my article on the question “is it worth getting pet insurance for dogs?“. Or go straight to PetAssure for a cheap alternative to get 25% off each vet visit!
Since dogs experience the world through their mouths, one reason he might be licking so much is because that’s how he explores!
The world is so full of interesting smells and tastes, and your dog just wants to explore and understand all of them.
8. Nutritional Deficiencies
If your dog is licking strange objects a lot, he might be having a medical problem called “pica.” Pica is when dogs try to consume things that are not actually food.
Usually, dogs will do this if they have some kind of nutritional deficiency. Your dog is instinctive, and can tell he’s missing something from his diet! Licking things is his way of trying to get whatever vitamins or nutrients he knows he’s missing into his body.
Upgrading your dog food towards high quality fresh cooked dog food should do the deal. Companies like Nom Nom specifically make sure that all your pup’s nutritional needs are met.
Make sure to check out my review on the best dog food delivery services for fresh cooked food to learn more.
It might seem weird, but it’s true! Dogs can get OCD just like humans. And even though it looks a little different in dogs, it can still be a major problem for both you and your pup.
One major sign of canine OCD is your dog’s excessive licking. He’s also likely to show other compulsive behaviors. These might include chasing lights, snapping at flies you can’t see, tail chasing, or excessive chewing.
If you think your dog is showing signs of canine OCD, you should book an appointment with your vet. They’ll be able to help determine whether or not it really is OCD, and set you up with a plan to manage the problem.
How to Stop a Dog from Licking Everything
Now that we know some of the reasons why your dog just won’t stop licking, let’s talk about ways to get him to stop.
Provide enough mental and physical stimulation
If your dog is licking out of boredom, then you need to make sure he’s getting enough stimulation throughout the day. This means working his body and his brain!
“A tired dog is a good dog” is a common saying in dog training circles, and for good reason! If your dog is tired, he won’t have any energy to act out any of his bad behaviors.
Taking your dog for more frequent walks or jogs, or getting him involved in dog sports are just a handful of ways you can help stave off his boredom.
But you also need to make sure he’s working his mind too! Consider incorporating some fun brain games into your daily routine.
The cool thing about brain games is that you can even train your dog using them. By playing these games regularly, your dog will become smarter and training him will become so much easier.
That’s exactly what my favorite dog training course does. Braintraining4dogs goes through 21 games, each teaching your dog a different skill. This will result in a well-behaved and smart dog that loves working with, and not against you. Make sure to check it out now to profit from the 60-day money back guarantee.
Give Him Something He’s Allowed to Lick
Some dogs are naturally more licky than others (like Baloo). Dealing with your dog’s lickiness might just mean channeling it towards something healthier.
There are plenty of toys you can give your dog that will allow him to get out his licking urges. For example, consider purchasing a lickimat, which you can cover in peanut butter for him to lick up.
You could also fill a kong toy with peanut butter or treats (or a mix of both!) and then freeze it for him to lick.
Use Bitter Apple Spray on Surfaces He’s Not Allowed to Lick
It’s all well and good to give your dog something he’s allowed to lick. But that not might necessarily stop him from licking other things altogether.
If there are some things in your house your dog just won’t stop licking, try purchasing some bitter apple spray to use on the objects. This spray is safe for your dog but will taste unpleasant to him.
Using it should help deter him from licking the things you really don’t want him licking.
Train the “Leave It” Command
“Leave it” is a really great command for your dog to know for a lot of reasons. It’ll take time and practice, but once your pup understands this command, you’ll be able to pull him away from things he shouldn’t be getting into.
Whether your dog is barking at strangers, or won’t stop licking your furniture, “leave it” will get him to stop.
For a great instructional video on how to teach your dog “leave it,” check out the AKC’s video and get to work with your dog!
Ask Your Vet
If you’ve tried incorporating more physical and mental exercise into your dog’s day, you’ve taught him “leave it,” and you’re providing him with things he is allowed to lick but he just won’t stop, it might be time to visit your vet.
Excessive licking can be a sign of allergies, cognitive issues, anxiety, or OCD. These are all problems that can be challenging to deal with, but going to the vet is your first step.
Even if there isn’t anything medically or cognitively wrong with your dog, at least you’ll be able to rule those possibilities out. This will allow you to focus on whatever the problem actually is.
Try a Different Kind of Food
If the reason your dog is licking is that he’s trying to get some nutrients he’s missing into his diet, it’s time for a food change. You should always be sure to buy high-quality food for your dog, and read the labels on the packages.
For some expert tips and tricks for identifying whether a brand of dog food is good, check out this article by the AKC.
You should also consider a raw or fresh cooked diet. There are lots of dog food delivery services out there that will bring your dog’s food straight to you! Check out my other article with the best fresh dog food delivery services!
Okay, before we wrap this up, let’s look at a few related questions when it comes to your dog’s licking habits.
Why Does My Dog Lick His Paws?
If your dog is focused on licking his paws more than anything else, there may be a few reasons.
One is that he’s experiencing allergies. If that’s the case, bringing him to your vet will help you determine what those allergies are, and what you and your dog need to avoid.
Your vet will also check to make sure your dog hasn’t injured his feet, which may be another reason why he’s licking.
It could also be that your dog is struggling with OCD. Your vet will help give your dog a diagnosis and set you up with a treatment and management plan.
Or, it could just be that your dog is bored. In which case it’s time to exercise him more, and start playing some new brain games!
For more information, check out this article about why your dog is chewing his paws.
Why Does My Dog Lick Blankets?
If your dog seems to have a thing for licking blankets, there are some reasons why he might be doing it.
When we sleep, we sweat and shed dead skin cells. That might seem gross to us, but for your dog it could be a field day of interesting tastes and smells.
Licking your blankets could also be a sign of compulsive behavior in your dog or signs of anxiety. If your dog tends to lick blankets when you’re not home, that could be because he’s struggling with separation anxiety, and is trying to comfort himself by licking up your scent.
Why Does My Dog Lick the Air When I Scratch Him?
If you scratch your dog and he starts licking the air, most likely it’s a sign he’s enjoying the feeling. This is especially true if you’re scratching hard to reach areas, like his bum or the base of his tail.
The licking is an instinctive reaction, as they’re trying to mimic the action of scratching that spot themselves.
That then looks something like that:
On the other hand, some dogs lick the air out of nervousness or discomfort. When you’re scratching your dog, check for other signs of pleasure like ears back and eyes closed to make sure it’s something he’s actually enjoying.
Why Does My Dog Lick His Lips So Much?
If you notice your dog licking his lips often, he might be doing it as part of his self-grooming. It might also be a way of comforting himself, as dogs learn from birth that licking means safety and comfort.
On the other hand, excessive lip licking could also be a means of communication. Dogs mainly communicate through body language and licking his lips is one way for him to express submission and saying: please don’t hurt me. It could also be a display of stress or anxiety
Here are a few other funny and interesting dog behaviors:
For all dogs, one of the very first things they experience is their mothers licking them. Licking is normal behavior from birth, and it’s totally natural for dogs to continue licking as they get older.
Some dogs can also be more licky than others. But if you think your dog’s licking is excessive, or he’s licking things you don’t want him to lick, there are ways to help him stop.
If you’re desperate to get your dog to stop licking, figure out why he’s licking so much in the first place, then follow the above tips to help your dog break free of this habit.
P.s.: Don’t forget to check out Braintraining4dogs if you want to take your dog training game to the next level. It offers a 60-day money back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose.