A terrier sniffing the floor

No two dogs are the same, and yet all dogs share some universal canine behaviors. To some degree, dogs cannot help doing certain things that seemingly defy human logic. Repetitive behaviors, including obsessive licking, can interrupt a dog’s sense of wellbeing. If your dog licks everything in sight, you might oscillate between wonder, curiosity, irritation, and confusion. Because of their individuality, their behavior is unique to them. But there are definitely ways you can address this canine trait before it gets out of hand. 

Get to the Bottom Of It

Relentless canine behaviors can have a profound effect on the entire household. If it gets bad enough, the human-animal bond may be at risk. But long before that happens, a dog’s ability to simply live their life may be up in the air. While some constant behaviors may be completely harmless, they are worth investigating.

It Started Slowly, Worsened Over Time

If your dog licks everything they can, it is possible that they started pursuing this behavior slowly and over a period of time. They may have originally licked your hand or face upon your arrival home. Without training and redirection, a behavior as innocuous as a welcome home kiss can develop into a rather obsessive behavior. 

Unbiased Approach

Dogs use their nose and mouth to understand and categorize environmental stimuli. Mothers lick their puppies to clean them, essentially passing this trait down through the generations. 

That being said, however, if your dog licks everything (from the floor to your face), it’s time to understand the possible reasons why they do it:

  • They like the flavor, temperature, and texture of certain surfaces or objects
  • They’re hoping there’s something delicious on the upholstery, clothing, or ground
  • They are showing submission to their “alpha”
  • They are bored, stressed, or anxious
  • They are burning off steam in the absence of vigorous exercise
  • They have an upset tummy and licking helps them feel better

When to Worry

Licking is generally seen and accepted as a normal canine behavior. However, if they tend to lick the same spot over and over, it is time to seek help. 

Licking a certain spot on their body can signal allergies, cognitive problems, dental issues, and other painful illnesses or injuries. In other words, compulsive behaviors can be linked to underlying health problems that need quick intervention.

Your Dog Licks Everything Less Often

Once you know what your dog is attracted to, and you have ruled out medical problems, you can work on positive reinforcement training. This means that you ignore the behavior you want to see less of (in this case, constant licking) and give treats and praise for the positive behaviors you want them to repeat. 

If you have further questions or concerns about canine behaviour and overall wellness, our staff is always here for you at Arlington Animal Hospital