Why Is My Dog Licking the Carpet?

If your dog has picked up the strange habit of licking the carpet, it's only natural that you'd want to know what causes it. Although the causes of this behavior are not always clear, you can manage the problem a number of ways.

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Mmm, carpet
credit: @sadkins143/Twenty20

Boredom

Your pet may be licking simply because he is bored. Pets rarely have as many ways to amuse themselves as humans do. Your dog's new activity may be carpet licking simply because the carpet is right there in front of him, and he doesn't see anything else to do at the moment. If your pet is licking out of boredom, the solution is simple: Give him something to do. For example, provide your dog a chew toy, one that is made of a very sturdy material. You may also want to consider long-lasting chewy treats that your veterinarian recommends. The ASPCA recommends having dogs "hunt" for their meals by hiding kibble in various places. This keeps boredom at bay and stimulates your dog's body and mind.

Stress

If your dog is feeling stressed or anxious, he may turn to licking the carpet as a way to deal with those emotions. The licking provides a distraction from whatever is worrying him. When you suspect stress is the reason for your dog's behavior, try to determine the cause of his stress. Many dogs get stressed by changes in routine, changes in diet, relocation or exposure to new animals. While you can't always control such changes, you can ease your dog into them. Keep your dog's routine and surroundings as familiar as possible. For example, if you move to a new place, surround your dog with his old toys and bed at the new home.

Medical Problems

Some dogs lick the carpet, objects or even their own fur compulsively due to medical problems. This may be a particular issue for dogs who have issues like head injuries, neurological illness or reduced vision, but many different medical issues cause compulsive licking. If your dog's carpet licking doesn't appear to be caused by stress or boredom, something more serious may be at play. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to have your dog evaluated.

Undetermined Causes

Sometimes the reason for compulsive licking can't be determined. Although it can be frustrating not to know the reason for the behavior, you still have options for controlling your dog's carpet licking. Ask your vet to refer you to a canine behavior specialist. If all else fails, confine the dog to non-carpeted areas.