Dachshunds are incredibly intelligent and curious creatures that also happen to make the cutest companions. They burrow in blankets like there is no tomorrow, dig through every single houseplant as if it was their life’s mission, and hop on the bed whenever they feel like it with surprising ease despite their short legs. The stubborn snugglers love spending time with their owners and even try to help them with their chores by occasionally lapping at the floor. While some licking of surfaces from time to time is normal for all dogs, why do Dachshunds have the urge to do it? Should we let our furry friends indulge in the behavior or should we curb their enthusiasm?
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The Root of the Behavior
As with most relatively common yet somewhat odd canine behavior, there is usually more than one underlying cause. While triggers vary from completely normal to concerning, any behavior that is considered unusual or frequent should be examined by the owner and not ignored. One of the main reasons dogs lick the floor is their curiosity. Our canine companions love to taste anything that catches their nose and aren’t afraid to dive tongue first for it. While it is completely normal for all dogs to lick the floor from time to time, it is especially common with puppies who are just discovering the world around them, as well as smaller breeds. Just as most dogs, Dachshunds have a great sense of smell, however, it is their physical build that makes it even easier for them to lick the floor at a moments notice when they sniff something intriguing. The proximity of your dog's nose to the floor, curious yet somewhat stubborn personality, and surprising speed is what makes them such stealthy floor lickers, making it difficult for many owners to prevent the behavior from happening.
It is not surprising considering the fact that Dachshunds were bred specifically for the purpose of sniffing out, burrowing after and hunting badgers and other small game. Their long but small bodies are perfectly designed for tunneling and their short legs enable all the maneuvering they need as they independently chase after them. Since it seems to be in Dachshunds’ nature to sniff surfaces and probe whatever they find along the way, the behavior isn’t something to be worried about unless it is obsessive or frequent. If you’ve spilled some food on the floor, your Dachshund will definitely be there to help you clean it up. However, in all other cases, you should be able to distract your four-legged buddy away from the activity. A Dachshund, or any dog for that matter, who acts as if he is glued to the floor at all times is not to be ignored and instead should be taken to the veterinarian for a check-up. The veterinarian will be able to run some tests and rule out any nutrient deficiencies or medical causes for the behavior, such as Cushing’s disease, liver problems, or neurological disorders which can sometimes be the culprit.
Encouraging the Behavior
Though occasional floor licking in dogs is normal and will occur once in a while, it is not the type of behavior that should be encouraged. Even more so with obsessive surface licking which can also be caused by anxiety or a lack of an adequate amount of physical exercise. Instead of encouraging or discouraging the behavior, take your four-legged family member to the animal clinic for diagnosis. After all the possible medical reasons for the behavior have been ruled out, focus on addressing the other possibilities. In many cases, dogs lick the floor because they are anxious, bored or have too much pent-up energy.
Try to distract your dog from licking the floor by initiating a game of fetch, tug of war, or simply take your canine companion for a long walk. Physical exercise promotes the production of endorphins which should make your dog happier and less anxious, although some additional petting and cuddles won’t hurt either! Hikes and trips to the dog park are also highly encouraged as then your dog gets the chance to exercise, spend some quality time with you, and hang out with his four-legged buddies. Mental stimulation, playtime, and an adequate amount of time outdoors should tire your dog out a little bit thus decreasing the chance of floor licking from happening.
Other Solutions and Considerations
The key to reducing or eliminating any reoccurring or possibly concerning behavior in dogs is observing them for any behavioral changes, determining what the potential triggers for the behavior could be, and either eliminating those triggers or socializing your dog with them so that they do not induce anxiety. For example, if your dog tends to lick the floor when you have people over or when you vacuum the noise or new people can be stressing him out and causing him to self-soothe through licking the floor or other objects.
If that is the case, contact a professional dog trainer for advice or book a session to help your dog overcome his fears in a safe setting with a professional for guidance. Remember, that though the behavior might seem funny or entertaining at first it can actually be harmful to your dog and his health in the long run. Untreated anxiety in dogs can lead to more serious behavioral problems, therefore it is best to address it as soon as it is noticed. In addition, floor licking can result in ingestion of cleaning products or other potentially harmful chemicals depending on what products were used to clean the floor.
Dachshunds can be stubborn and despite their tiny legs, can also be quite stealthy. Therefore, it is important for their owners to be on the lookout for potentially harmful behavior. If your four-legged friend occasionally licks the floor, especially after you had just dropped something tasty on it, don’t be alarmed. However, if the behavior is consistent, you should consult a veterinarian to rule out or treat any medical causes.