Dogs sometimes do quirky things, and that's one of the reasons we love them. Their antics are often amusing and charming, but they can sometimes stray into an annoying or unhealthy place. You don't, for example, want to walk into your baby's room to find the dog licking her blanket. While dogs do sometimes lick things, those who constantly lick random objects and seem unable to stop are actually exhibiting signs of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. Fortunately, you can stop this licking behavior.
How Can I Stop My Dog From Licking My Floor?
Visit your vet
If you frequently find your dog licking the floor or other objects, take him to the vet. Sometimes dogs suffering from a nutritional deficiency will lick anything they can in an effort to get what they're missing. Your vet can also rule out the diseases that make dogs engage in strange licking behaviors. Neurological disorders, liver failure, Cushing's disease, and overactive adrenal glands can all cause licking behaviors. Treating these problems stops the licking and makes your dog a healthier, happier pooch. Rule out any physical ailments before treating licking as a behavioral problem.
Pay close attention to your pup and make sure his behavior ends with the licking. Some dogs feel compelled not only to lick but to actually eat nonfood objects. This condition, which vets call pica, is a disorder with both physical and behavioral triggers. Your vet can help you manage the condition and perhaps lessen its symptoms, but a cure isn't always possible. You'll need to stay vigilant as a pica parent, always monitoring the environment to keep it free of foreign objects your dog could ingest.
Exercise a dog licking carpet
If the vet gave your pup a clean bill of health, you can safely begin addressing her licking habit as a behavioral issue. Start by assuming she's bored. Play sessions and walks with your dog enhance her mental well being as well as her physical health. Make sure she has plenty of toys and activities to keep her occupied when you're not home. When you are, provide several short training sessions each day to keep her mentally stimulated and give her plenty of physical exercise as well. Even adding three two-minute training sessions a day can help stimulate a dog and relieve boredom.
Help him relax
In both people and dogs, anxiety frequently triggers OCD behaviors. If you can, figure out what's causing your dog's stress and eliminate the problem. Since your dog can't tell you what's bothering him, this may not be possible. If you can't find the source of his anxiety, treat it in other ways. Some dogs do well when placed in a shirt or sweater that swaddles them while putting pressure on certain acupuncture points known to reduce anxiety. Others respond well if you diffuse calming oils like lavender in the home or play soothing music. According to dog expert Cesar Millan, exercise reduces a dog's anxiety too. Extra walks and play sessions will alleviate boredom and anxiety at the same time.
Avoid accidentally encouraging your dog
Children and other family members may laugh when the dog is licking the floor, ultimately showing pleasure and approval for the dog's behavior. Attempting to distract your licking dog with her favorite toy or treat similarly rewards the negative behavior. Even yelling at her can backfire, as some dogs enjoy any attention, even if it's negative. The best way to curb unwanted licking behavior is by ignoring it and walking away. Of course, you should only do so after you've added playtime, walks, training, and anxiety-reducing measures into your dog's routine. Doing so will set her up for success. Once these behavior-changing dynamics are in place, it's time to show your dog that the licking isn't acceptable.
Ignore the behavior and, if you can, have every member of your family get up and walk to a different room when the licking starts. You may find this challenging if your dog's licking interrupts your favorite television show or family game night with the kids. It's also harder than it sounds. It's easy to walk away from a dog licking a blanket but harder when the dog is licking you and smothering you with affection. Fortunately, you should only have to disengage from your dog for a few weeks at most before he gets the message and stops licking everything in sight.