Most dogs like to lick things – feet, hands, furniture, carpets, whatever it might be.
But some dogs seem to love licking everything! From doors to toilet bowls, from toes to drains!
If you have noticed this behavior, you might wonder why dogs lick everything in the house.
What drives this behavior, and should you be worried about it if your dog acts like this?
Why Does Your Dog Lick Everything in Your House?
Dogs explore and understand the world through their mouths much more than humans do.
They like to lick and smell things to investigate what they are.
But dogs can also lick things due to stress or medical issues. So it’s essential to understand this behavior when caring for your dog.
This is perfectly normal, natural, and healthy behavior for most dogs that is nothing to worry about.
However, for some dogs, obsessive and compulsive licking can signify an underlying issue such as boredom, stress, dehydration, or even a medical condition.
Here is a list of nine reasons why your dog might seem to lick everything in your home:
- Natural Curiosity.
- Stress or Anxiety
- Canine Pica
- Physical Health Issues
- Cognitive Health Issues
- Attention Seeking
Let’s now look at each of these potential causes in more detail, then what to do about them.
1. Natural Curiosity
As mentioned, most dogs love licking and chewing random household objects to investigate and explore the world around them.
So when your dog licks random household items, they could just be investigating them, in a similar way that humans pick up products they are thinking of buying in a store.
When dogs are bored, they often seek ways to relieve that boredom.
Unlike humans who can binge-watch Netflix or scroll through Facebook, dogs are limited in how they can entertain themselves.
However, one of the ways they may relieve their boredom is by licking anything and everything in the house.
3. Stress or Anxiety
Have you ever noticed yourself or someone you know biting or chewing their nails when they get stressed?
Well, dogs do similar things, and this can include chewing and licking stuff excessively in your house.
The licking action is a distraction and relief from the unpleasant feelings they are experiencing.
4. Canine Pica
Pica is the fancy name for eating non-food objects.
It’s a behavior pattern carried out by many animals, including humans and dogs.
5. Physical Health Issues
Some physical health issues can cause a dog to lick more frequently than usual. They may lick themselves more or lick random household items more.
If your dog seems obsessive and compulsive in how it licks random things, you should always take them to the vet to ensure they are okay.
If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this site lists helpful resources for charities to help you pay your bills.
(If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country, there is a lot of support out there for dog owners who are in difficulty).
6. Cognitive Health Issues
Brain damage, neurological disorders, canine OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), or dementia can cause licking.
If you notice any signs of confusion or a loss of energy along with the licking, you should take them for a trip to the vet to get checked out.
Dehydration, either temporary or chronic, can cause dogs to lick more.
If your dog seems consistently and excessively thirsty and drinks more water than usual, please take them to a vet.
If your dog is hungry, they might excessively lick things in your home, either out of habit or to get your attention.
If this is the case, the behavior should stop or be significantly reduced once you give them some food.
9. Attention Seeking
Your dog might want or need more attention from you and has learned that it gets more attention when it licks things in the house.
If you think this is the case, you should use the training tips coming up next to train them out of it.
NOTE – You may also find this post interesting. It looks at the question – why does my dog eat my underwear?
How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Everything
If you think your dog’s licking might be related to a physical or mental health issue, the first step should be to see the vet for a professional diagnosis.
Or, if you think the dog is bored or anxious, you should try to improve their emotional well-being.
More play-time, walks, and time outside can help, so can more chews and chew toys and less time alone.
Finally, distraction training can reduce or eliminate this behavior over time.
Whenever you notice your dog licking something in the house, tell them “No” in a firm voice.
Once they stop the licking, use something fun or tasty to distract them, give them a treat, their favorite toy, or some cuddles.
If you repeat this behavior each time you catch them giving something a lick, the behavior will reduce.
Should You Worry About Your Dog’s Licking Behaviour?
You only need to worry about a dog licking random household items if the behavior seems excessive, compulsive, and obsessive.
If the dog is either sick or in some distress, you should speak to a vet as soon as possible.
Why Do Dogs Lick Everything in the House? Some Final Thoughts
It is perfectly natural for your dog to lick random items in the house, and in most cases, it is nothing to worry about.
Dogs do this as a natural part of being a dog and investigating the world through their mouths.
However, if the licking is excessive, obsessive, or compulsive, and especially if your dog shows other signs of distress or is sick, you should take them to a vet as soon as possible.
Please note that if you are in financial trouble in many areas, there are charities that will help struggling dog owners with their vet bills.
So, if this is you, ask your vet or have a look on Google for some good local resources for support.
Before you go, you might also enjoy this video. It’s got more helpful information and comes with super-cute animation.
Just click on the video, and it will start to play:
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!