Is your dog licking the furniture? When all said and done, dogs were given tongues for a reason. Yes, to lick things. Which, if you have got an affectionate pup, is something they like to do quite often. In fact, some dogs see the world the same way as we see an ice cream. Like it is made for licking. If you've arrived home, flopped on the sofa and inadvertently sat on a damp patch, you can probably deduce your pet's been licking the furniture in your absence even though they may have a perfectly innocent expression on their face. Why do they do it?
The Root of the Behavior
If your dog has been licking the furniture, there could be several logical reasons why. If he's been home alone and grown bored with his toys, he may well have just been trying to occupy his time until you, his favorite person, returned. The texture of the chair or sofa or whatever he's been running his tongue over might remind him of licking your skin and give him some level of comfort in your absence. If your dog starts to lick the furniture a lot, it may be that he's stressed or nervous. The sensation of licking soft fabric may help him cope and alleviate his feelings by keeping him otherwise occupied. Which is good for him but not great for your soft furnishings. There is always the possibility your pooch sniffed out some microscopic particle of food ingrained in the fabric. Could be anything from a smidgen of chocolate to a popcorn kernel leftover from your last movie night in. He found the scent irresistible, but unable to trace the source he licked away at the furniture in hope of finding whatever tasty morsel had left its mark there.
Have you considered that your dog might be missing something vital in his diet? Dogs can begin to lick at household furnishings when they have a mineral or vitamin deficiency in their diet. After all, he cannot open the cupboard and help himself from a supplement jar so instinct will takeover and he will try to increment his intake by any means available which, if he's a house dog, could be by licking your armchair. Consuming weird and wonderful things is a dog's way of curing themselves from abdominal pain or feeling generally unwell. You know he'll chew on grass given half a chance, but if your dog doesn't have access to where he can find what he needs, can you be sure he hasn't started licking the furniture as a substitute measure?
Encouraging the Behavior
Well, you can look on the bright side; his licking is keeping the furniture lint-free and can help keep it clean. However, it is somewhat of a concern to let your dog continue this bizarre behavior. In reality, licking the furniture is not good for your dog. Licking things he should not be licking, like the sofa, will mean he is picking up and swallowing all kinds of stuff he really shouldn't be. He may be ingesting fibers from the fabric, your hair and his own, plus dust particles and other dirt and debris that could lead to him getting an intestinal blockage. It is best to discourage this behavior whenever you notice it.
Insistent licking of the furnishings could also indicate your dog has or is developing a compulsive behavior disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or anxiety disorder. Yes, dogs can get these conditions just as humans can. Your dog may have lost control of what he is doing and may not even realize he is doing it. If you feel that is a possibility, then you need to consult your veterinary professional, who will be able to advise you on the adequate treatment to take, if any.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Before you decide to get rid of the furniture or put it in the garage out of the way of your dog’s long tongue, why not consider getting him checked out over at the veterinarian’s office? What can you do, if, after a visit to the vet's, your pet is declared to be in perfect health, but still carries on licking the furniture? Consider signing him up for some training sessions with a professional dog trainer. It will not only keep your dog more occupied, they will be able to help you develop the skills to deal with your pup's bad habits.
For a dog to lick furniture means something somewhere is not quite right and although it might not have any immediate detrimental effect, it needs to be prevented where possible and you've now made the first step toward that. If all else fails, to keep his tongue busy, on your next movie night, you could always share your ice cream with him.
Written by a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze
Veterinary reviewed by:
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020