Updated at: 24-12-2021 - By: petexpert

Among the many odd things dogs do, licking the carpet may rank as one of the oddest. Yet, dogs don’t just start carrying out behaviors for no rhyme nor reason. There is almost always an underlying cause at play, only that unlocking it isn’t always as straightforward as thought.

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If you’re scratching your head over this behavior, rest assured you are not alone. When working as a vet assistant, we often got phone calls from dog owners asking, “Why does my dog lick the carpet?” These intuitive dog owners knew there must have been something wrong going on with their canine companions and wanted to get to the root of the problem.

Even nowadays as a dog trainer and behavior consultant, dog owners still ask me what may be causing excessive licking behaviors in dogs. The fact is, excessive licking behaviors may have various causes and it’s not that easy to pinpoint the correct answer.

The carpet smells like food

You might not remember when someone dropped a little cream cheese dip on your carpet at the party three weeks ago, but your dog does. And K9 of Mine explains that your pooch isn’t likely to forget until he’s locked up every last molecule left on the carpet.

To prevent this, you can institute a no-food-on-the-carpet policy, but if that’s not an option, steam clean your carpet or vacuum it after applying pet-safe vacuum powder on a regular basis to absorb all those tempting scents that drive him nuts. Be sure to keep him out of the room while you use vacuum powder even if it is marked pet-safe.

Boredom can cause carpet licking

Dogs have a lot of energy, and when that energy isn’t released properly, it can come out in weird and unexpected ways — like licking the carpet. It might seem odd to you, but be glad her boredom is coming out in a non-destructive way as she could be chewing shoes or destroying your furniture instead.

The good news is that if your dog is licking the carpet because she’s bored, you can solve the problem in short order. Start taking her on more walks, play with her more, and buy her some mentally-stimulating toys to keep her entertained during the day if you’re not around. Dr. Marty’s Pets suggests getting puzzle toys that are designed to keep your pooch entertained for hours at a time with the promise of a tasty food treat. Whatever toys you give her, be sure to switch them out regularly, so she doesn’t get bored of them and revert to licking the carpet.

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Dogs who lick carpets may be ill

When it comes to physical problems, sometimes the carpet isn’t even the target of the licking, but instead, he’s trying to lick his paw or stomach, and the carpet happens to be underneath the area he’s licking. If you notice this is the case, carefully examine the bothered body part and if you can’t find an immediate source of discomfort, take your dog to the vet.

If the carpet is most certainly the target of the licking, your dog may be sick. Good Doggies says that carpet licking is the indoor equivalent of a dog’s instinct to eat grass to make themselves vomit when their stomach is bothering them.

In this case, carpet licking isn’t an immediate problem unless you use certain chemicals to clean your floor or unless the dog licks up something else dangerous. Generally speaking, the problem will resolve itself once the dog throws up, but if the dog keeps up the behavior and is making himself vomit repeatedly, see a vet. The problem could simply be hyperacidity, which occurs when the dog doesn’t eat for an extended period, but it could be something more serious, and your vet will be able to diagnose the issue.

Excessive Licking of Surfaces (ELS)

Excessive Licking of Surfaces (ELS), is a condition suffered by some dogs. It is not just a random occurrence, it is a pattern of excessive behaviour that involves licking floors, walls, furniture and carpets and can be a result of or lead to serious stomach and gastrointestinal issues.

Research carried out at the Montréal Veterinary Teaching Hospital in the mid 2000s by V. Bécuwe, M-C. Bélanger, D. Frank, J Parent and P. Hélie on 29 dogs showed that 19 of them had ELS. Some of the dogs were only licking things after meals at home, suggesting that there was something in their diet or in their reaction to food that was making them act in this way. However, 90 days after treatment for stomach issues, 10 of the dogs showed a substantial reduction in their obsessive licking practices and eventually nine of the dogs were completely cured of an Excessive Licking of Surfaces behaviours. As well as Excessive Licking of Surfaces, there are two other major reasons why dogs might engage in obsessive licking of their surroundings, both are treatable, but will require a lot of input from owners.

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Treatment for Boredom

Aim to take your dog for two walks a day, and add some play by taking a ball or a dog frisbee with you so that your dog can get some fresh air, burn off some energy and also keep fit. Make time to play with your dog, encouraging him to interact with you and get some exercise.

Buy some dog puzzle toys, either those that give out treats by being rolled around, or when something is lifted or pushed; or the sort that do something when they are played with in the right way. These will keep your dog challenged and thinking. Have a range of toys, so that you can swap them around regularly so that your dog doesn’t get bored. If you have to be out at work all day, consider employing a dog sitter or walking service, or look into sending your dog to doggie day care so that he is interacting with other humans and dogs and is getting plenty of exercise and stimulation.

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