As all dog owners know, our pet dogs do some weird things.
This is precisely why this site exists. To examine canine behavior and understand some of the exciting things they do.
In this post, we will answer the question – why do dogs lick furniture such as leather couches, sofas, armchairs, etc.?
We will also let you know if you should be worried about this if your dog does it. So let’s dive right in.
Why Do Dogs Lick Furniture?
Dogs can lick furniture for several reasons, including natural curiosity, but also due to stress, boredom, anxiety, or even a potential medical condition or canine dementia.
Dogs love to lick, and some furniture licking is normal, but if they are frequently and obsessively doing so, it may be due to a mental or physical health condition.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Dogs
Like humans, dogs can also suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder (also known as OCD).
Repetitive licking can release feel-good hormones (known as endorphins) in the dog’s brains, so if they are stressed, they may engage in licking as a way of self-soothing.
If this becomes obsessive, in that they can’t seem to stop or that it causes more harm than good, it would be considered OCD.
If you think your dog has OCD, you should ideally consult your local vet and a dog behavior specialist to find ways of treating this unpleasant condition.
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 for dog owners who are in difficulty).
Canine Medical Conditions that Can Cause Excessive Licking
If your dog has any of these conditions, it may be the root cause of why they are licking your furniture:
- Digestive issues.
- Canine cognitive dysfunction (aka dementia).
- Brain damage or similar problems.
If you have concerns that your dog may be suffering from one of these, please take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Why Do Dogs Lick Leather Couches?
Dogs lick leather couches for several reasons. It might just be curiosity – dogs explore the world with their mouths much more than we do.
It might be that the leather sofa tastes nice or smells nice to the dog.
Or they might do it due to an underlying mental or physical issue that needs to be addressed.
Dogs can engage in this behavior due to mental and physical health issues such as anxiety, stress, boredom, or physical issues like allergies or digestive problems.
NOTE – You might like to read this post answering the question – why do dogs sit behind you?
How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Furniture
The first thing to focus on is getting to the root cause of the issue.
If you think it is related to a mental well-being problem, you need a twofold approach:
- Work on removing as much stress as possible from the dog’s life.
- Increase the positive input the dog receives.
Removing Stress from Your Dog’s Life
Things that can stress your dog out can include:
- Changes in living conditions – Dogs thrive off stability and routine and struggle with significant changes to their lifestyle.
- A loud and busy household – Dogs love being active and around lots of people but sometimes (just as for humans), this can get a bit too much for them.
- Pain or similar medical issues – Underlying health problems can cause stress in your dog.
- Loneliness – Dogs need company, either with other dogs or humans, and ideally both.
It might not be easy to fix all of these above, but if you struggle to do so, then at least using the positive inputs listed next can help to counterbalance them.
Increasing Positive Inputs for the Dog
Your dog has essential but straightforward needs. The more of these needs you can meet, the better:
- Company – Avoid leaving your dog alone too frequently or too long.
- Exercise – Regular walks and runs are not just important for their physical health but also for their mental health.
- Play – Play is essential for your dog’s well-being.
- Healthy diet – It doesn’t have to be organic, fancy, or expensive, but it does need to provide the dog with the nutrition they need. If in doubt, consult your vet.
- A safe and quiet space – Create a quiet, calm, den-like space that only they are allowed in. A crate with a blanket over it is a great example. Somewhere where they can move away from stress and chill out independently.
Improving these areas of your dog’s life will give them a better chance of improved mental well-being, which can help reduce behaviors such as licking the furniture.
Training Tips to Reduce Furniture Licking
Distraction training can work well for dogs that lick furniture.
Tell them “No” in a firm voice whenever you spot the behavior, and then distract them with something fun, tasty, or interesting.
Lead them away from the leather couch (or whatever they are licking) and give them a treat, their favorite toy to play with, or just some loving cuddles.
As you keep repeating this, you should notice that the furniture licking is reduced (assuming there isn’t underlying stress or health issue that needs addressing).
Should I be Worried About My Dog Licking My Furniture?
It is most likely not a life-or-death situation, so there is no need to panic and start freaking out.
However, if your dog is persistently licking furniture, it could be good to take them to a vet for a mental and physical health check-up.
If you are short of money and can’t afford to take them to the vet, one option is to see if local or national charities offer help and veterinary support to dog owners that are short of cash.
If that doesn’t work, you should also try to improve your dog’s mental well-being with more exercise, play, and cuddles.
Also, if you can create a safe den-like space for them to hang out in and ideally reduce stress levels around the home as much as possible, this could help them feel less anxious.
Final Notes On Why Dogs Lick Furniture
Dogs can lick furniture for various reasons, some of which are nothing to worry about, and some should be given attention until they are resolved.
Ensuring your dog’s mental and physical well-being is essential, and if you are ever in any doubt about your dog’s health, please bring them to see a vet.
If you are still worried about your dog’s licking behavior, please take a look at this video for more great advice:
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!