Does your dog seem to lick insistently on any surface around them while laying down for sleep?
I understand first hand how after a while it can be really bothersome and can even worry you after a while, especially when they turn their attention to themselves.
There are quite a few reasons why your pup may be licking excessively, and I hope I can walk you through to find a solution.
The Reasons Your Dog May Excessively Lick Things
There could be a number of reasons why your pooch may be licking things excessively.
Below are some reasons I have found that could explain the behavior.
#1 Settling Down
If your dog is excessively licking their bed as they lay down to settle in, the reason may be just as simple as them getting comfortable.
Dogs tend to mark their territories, and for some pooches, licking is the way to get their scent on their bed.
If the licking only pertains to their resting spot, then there really isn’t much need to worry.
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#2 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder shows itself when your dog is feeling overly stressed.
They may take licking to the extreme or other surfaces than just their bed. If you notice this behavior in your pup, try to remove any environmental stressor for them.
Also keeping them busy and playing through the day, they are more likely to tire out than focus on their obsessive licking.
#3 Separation Anxiety or Early Maternal Separation
Separation anxiety can start from a younger age and can be triggered from taking the puppy from the mother too soon, also called early maternal separation.
If you find your dog licking excessively at themselves or objects around them around the time you are supposed to leave, then it is more likely your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
#4 Senior’s Growing Pains
As your dog ages, their body may become achy and sore. One response to the pains could be the obsessive licking in the areas it is hurting them the most.
If you have a senior dog that is getting up there in years, the licking can be explained as only growing pain and response to it.
#5 Nausea Pains
Nausea is one of the main causes that I have found for when my dog is licking excessively.
Sometimes they just sit and lick at the air as they try to calm their stomachs.
If you have ever had the feeling of your mouth watering from the need to vomit, you understand just how awful the feeling is.
Your dog’s diet may be the cause of this behavior if they are expressing it after eating. Perhaps it is time to change their food.
#6 Allergies and Infection
Dogs can not just take medication from allergies on a dime like we can unless we can take them to the vet.
Their only response to this itching or the pain from any wound or infection is licking which helps relieve pain.
If your dog is licking at their skin until it is pink, or perhaps nipping the fur off in frustration, they may have a skin condition or infection.
Your best option to help them is to take them to the vet and treat what is bothering them.
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#7 Gastrointestinal Issues
Another reason your dog may be licking random objects or surfaces beyond what I have described is gastrointestinal issues.
Licking things randomly can help relieve some of the pain by having their minds focus on something else.
If you are unsure if this may be the reason or not, I would take them to the vet to check it out.
#8 Stress or Boredom
We have all done something to pass time from boredom or get our minds off of a stressful day.
Some dogs lick excessively on many random objects just for this reason.
If you can not think of any other reason that the dog is licking, then this may be the only reason, especially if you have removed all stressors.
Your dog may be licking out of habit if you have never corrected the behavior before.
They could have started with just licking for territory reasons and grown to enjoy the action of licking things.
I know it can be annoying, but if it has just become a habit there isn’t much harm in them doing it unless it is starting to hurt their tongue.
If your dog only licks around the time they usually get fed, they may simply be hungry.
They could just be trying to get your attention with it, or perhaps even trying to get some nutrients from objects that they can’t get from their food.
If the behavior continues after feeding, it may be a completely different reason on the list.
How to Correct the Behavior
Even though it may seem hopeless training out the licking, there are other ways to get them to stop.
The suggestions below are only if your dog is licking based on behavior and not any medical issues.
I suggest going through each suggestion before looking for more help if none of them work.
#1 Give Your Dog Some More Love
As I always say, there is no harm in giving your pup a little more love and attention during the day if it benefits their health.
Getting your dog to focus on anything other than the obsessive licking is the best option.
Give them some extra cuddle or divert their attention from licking with some pets. It might just do the trick for you.
#2 Tire Your Dog With Some Exercise
Just like giving your dog more attention, exercising or playing with them can physically tire them out enough where they can forget about the behavior.
When their day is full of fun and energy, when they settle down to bed they will have no trouble falling asleep.
Especially dogs that use the licking as a comfort method to get themselves to settle down.
Take your pup for an extra walk or go ahead and play more with their favorite toys.
#3 Replace Behavior With New Toys
If your dog is anything like mine, a new toy will captivate your dog’s attention for days if not weeks.
Having something new to occupy their attention with can definitely draw them away from the licking behavior.
I suggest taking the new toy and offering it every time your pup starts the behavior, almost like a reward for when they stop.
#4 Enroll them in Doggy Daycare
Sometimes home can be very stressful, especially for dogs that have separation anxiety.
If this is the case for you, enrolling your pup into a doggy daycare while you are out could keep their mind off of you and in the new environment.
I only suggest this for dogs who get along with other dogs, giving them someone else to play with through the day.
#5 Take Your Dog Out
Just as I mentioned above with the exercising option as well as the doggy day care, taking your dog to the park gets them into a new environment and gets them some exercise.
Just getting out of the house can get their mind completely off the behavior and on more sensory triggers on the way to the park.
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What if these options don’t work?
If the options above don’t work, it may be more than just simple behavior. Your dog may have developed a habit for it or it could be an underlying medical issue.
I suggest trying to change their diet to see if that may have been the problem.
In some cases, the licking may be due to their food making them nauseous or in search of something they can not find in their diet.
Changing their food to something of equal or preferrably better quality can give them what they need and may soothe their need to lick to alleviate their upset stomachs.
If All Else Fails, Consult Your Vet
If all else fails to help rid your dog of their excessive licking behavior, it could be something only your vet could fix.
Dogs tend to lick themselves a lot in order to get rid of the pain since the action itself releases endorphins that relieve the pain a bit.
So if your dog can’t stop licking themselves, it is best just to take them to the vet before the issue gets worse.
It can be a number of things from untreated skin conditions, infection, or a parasite to liver complications or gastrointestinal issues.
Consulting a vet could pinpoint why they are exhibiting the behavior and get your pup on track to feeling better.
Did any option help you out?
I hope you found some relief options for your dog while reading. I know first hand just how bad a licking behavior like this can get if left untreated for a while.
Did any option help your pupper out? What part have you tried or are going to try next to help your dog out?
Please let me know in the comments your answers to these questions, and also let me know if I should add something to the list that may have helped your dog through this behavior.
Thank you so much for reading, and please share with any dog owners you know.