It is no secret that dogs lick weird things. From the pavement to other dogs’ private parts, dogs have little inhibition about the places they are willing to go to lick, as long as it smells or tastes good enough.
There are worse things to lick than say the sheets or the couch, but some dogs really get into licking. And if they like to excessively lick the couch, especially after drinking water, it can leave a giant puddle of water and drool. That sopping puddle is not only unpleasant to accidentally sit on but can damage your couch if your dog has the habit of licking the couch after drinking water.
So why does your dog lick the couch after drinking water?
After drinking water, your dog’s taste buds have been hydrated and enhanced. Therefore, your couch tastes better. Your dog might also be licking the couch after drinking water because they like the taste or feel of the fabric, it smells like you, they are bored, anxious or perhaps have a medical issue.
Licking after the couch after drinking water is strange, sloppy, and annoying. Let’s try to figure out the specific reason your dog is licking the couch after drinking water. Once you have figured out whether it is a behavioral or medical issue, you can figure out the best route to change your dog’s behavior.
Why Does My Dog Lick The Couch After Drinking Water?
While there are multiple reasons dogs choose to lick random things in your house, it is hard not to wonder why your dog is specifically choosing the couch, and why they are doing it after drinking water.
First and foremost, it is simply because your couch probably tastes and smells good so your dog is attracted to it. While dogs might not have as many tastebuds as humans (they only have about 1,700 while we have 9,000) dogs still can differentiate between sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.
Plus drinking water before licking the couch will change the way the couch taste. Drinking water rinses away the chemicals produced by saliva and dehydrates tastebuds, changing the sensation of taste.
After they learn to love the taste or smell of the couch, obsessive licking can be the result of boredom or anxiety since licking is a self-soothing behavior. If they start licking the couch after drinking water, it can be soaking wet, especially if you have a dog with big jowls like a Cane Corso. These kinds of dogs can hold a lot more water in their cheeks!
Reason 1. The Couch Tastes Good
I don’t know about you, but I often eat on my couch. That means there are good smells and crumbs for my dog to lick. And they can taste the crumbs more if they lick the couch after drinking water.
Dogs use their lips to help keep food and water in their mouths. The bigger cheeks they have the more they will taste and enjoy licking the couch. You can see in this video how big of a mess dogs can make by licking the couch after drinking water.
Finally, the taste of the fabric of your couch is going to change when it is wet. Some dogs like licking the couch because they like the way it taste or feels when it gets sopping wet. Licking the couch after drinking water will help them be able to feel that sensation even quicker.
Reason 2. Your Couch Smells Like You
It might not be the leftover food or pizza sauce your dog loves to lick on the couch, it could be you! We spend a lot of time on our couch, watching TV, reading, eating, or cuddling with our dogs. When you are gone, your dog probably misses you and might lick the couch after drinking water to enhance the smell of you.
The heat and humidity caused by your dog licking the couch, especially after drinking water, causes more of the odor molecules to travel through the air. It is the same reason why wet dogs smell stronger than dry dogs. The wet humid air caused by licking the couch after drinking water enhances the smell of you.
Licking the couch after drinking water because it smells like you might be a sweet gesture. However, you might think about putting your scent on something more appropriate than allowing them to lick the couch or other furniture.
Reason 3. Your Dog Is Bored
Licking the couch after drinking water might start as curiosity about the taste and smell, but can quickly turn into a habit that your dog does out of boredom. Lack of exercise, stimulation, or enriching activities can result in your dog having to learn how to entertain themselves with behaviors like licking the couch.
Not every dog needs to run a daily marathon for exercise, but even the lowest-energy dogs will benefit from a walk every day. Dogs also love training and mental stimulation. You do not need to spend hours training your dog every day to wear them out mentally.
Work on sit stays while you are waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning. Or teach them to roll over from the couch they like to lick during your favorite TV show’s commercial.
You can also encourage them to use enrichment food toys that encourage licking other than the couch after drinking water. Here is a great video about how to use licky mats.
Reason 4. Your Dog Is Anxious
Is licking the couch after drinking water a new behavior for your dog? It could be the result of anxiety. If there have been any new stressors in your or your dog’s life (for example a new house, new job schedule, new baby), your dog might try to relieve their stress by licking the couch.
Drinking too much water and licking the couch can also be an indicator of stress or separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is caused by dogs being upset and becoming destructive when left alone. Separation anxiety is usually indicated by destructive behaviors like accidents in the house, excessive barking and howling, and chewing up furniture.
Licking the couch after drinking water might not seem as destructive as chewing up all the couch cushions, but dogs have been known to lick couches till they are threadbare.
Furthermore, licking is a self-soothing behavior for dogs, and non-stop licking can help their anxiety. Think of it like nervously biting your nails.
Help your dog by giving them something more appropriate than the couch after drinking water to lick. An example would be a bone with frozen peanut butter. Not only will it give them an outlet for their anxiety licking, but it is also mentally enriching!
Reason 5. Your Dog Has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Anxiety in the dog world does not only mean separation anxiety. Some dogs with anxiety might be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. According to Harriet Meyers, OCD is described as when “normal dog behaviors become excessive.”
OCD behaviors include pacing, chasing lights, obsessive fetch, spinning, and chasing their tails. Two of the most common OCD behaviors in dogs are excessive drinking and licking. A dog who obsessively licks the couch after drinking a whole bowl of water could have both of these OCD behaviors.
This video talks a bit about the OCD “loops” some dogs can get into and why certain breeds might be prone to have this condition.
While some dog breeds lick more than others, it is fairly easy to know if your dog just likes licking or if they are obsessively licking the couch after drinking water. They will not be able to stop licking the couch until you physically remove them from the couch.
If you are worried your dog has anxiety or OCD that is causing them to lick the couch after drinking water, you might have to help them change their behavior by keeping them physically away from the couch and giving them only enough water in their bowl that is necessary for their health and hydration.
For severe cases of OCD, a veterinarian can help you medically manage your dog’s behaviors.
How Can I Change The Behavior?
If your couch tastes and smells good, especially when the scent is enhanced after drinking water, your dog is rewarding themselves by licking it. They have accidentally trained themselves to lick it as a behavior.
So the best way to change the behavior and keep your couch dry and damage free is to reward them for not licking the couch. This is called redirection, or taking attention away from the unwanted behavior (licking the couch after drinking water) and focusing it on a different behavior. This could be throwing their favorite treat, making them sit or lay down on their bed, or redirecting them to their favorite toy.
If your dog loves playing with toys, make sure they do not change their focus to eating their toys instead of licking the couch!
We already mentioned helping your dog channel their licking to a more appropriate place like a toy full of frozen peanut butter or a licky mat, but there are a lot of other great puzzle toys that will give your dog enrichment. You do not have to spend a lot of money on expensive puzzle toys from the store. This video shows you some great DIY toys that you can make.
If you think your dog is untrustworthy and will lick the couch after drinking water when you are not there, you might want to consider crate training. Crate training is a wonderful skill for your dog or puppy to have to keep them and your house safe.
Finally, if you still cannot get your dog to stop licking the couch after drinking water, it might be time to go to the veterinarian and check for medical issues.
Should I Be Worried?
Most dogs lick the couch after drinking water because they like the taste and smell and from there, it becomes a habit to help soothe anxiety or fight off boredom. Basically, the delicious-tasting couch is rewarding their bad habit.
However, aggressive licking of the couch could be a sign of medical conditions including gastrointestinal issues. If they are licking and gagging, it is most likely because they are nauseous. Besides licking and gagging, nauseous can cause drooling, panting, restlessness, diarrhea, or vomiting.
According to PetMD, drinking too much water can make your dog’s nauseous worse, so if they lick the couch after drinking water they could be trying to make themselves feel better.
Some medical issues that can cause nauseous or other gastrointestinal issues include:
- Motion sickness
- Bloat or Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV)
- They ate something that upset their stomach
Some dogs might not be able to stop themselves from licking the couch after drinking water because they have pica. Pica is a medical and behavioral condition that causes dogs to eat and swallow non-food items almost obsessively. This includes paper, rocks, cloth, poop, and garbage. They particularly like things with their owner’s scent on them, which is why they probably love licking the couch after drinking water.
There is a range of causes of pica stemming from medical to behavioral issues. Nutritional deficiency, starvation, parasite boredom, and anxiety all might cause pica in your dog.
As someone who has a dog with pica (caused by his medication), I can say crate-training and management is the best way to keep them from licking the couch after drinking water.
Licking is a common dog behavior, whether it’s the floor, you, or the couch it’s one of the main ways dogs interact with the world.. It helps them explore their environment by giving them information about the world around them. Think about all the information that is on your couch. There are lots of food smells as well as your scent, all on the centerpiece of your living room.
Furthermore, when a dog licks the couch after drinking water, their hydrated tastebuds will be able to taste the couch better. Be careful though, if it is a new habit it might be because they are not feeling well.
However, it is important to not let licking the couch after drinking water become too much of a habit for your dog. They can do a lot of damage to your couch, especially if it becomes a compulsive habit because of anxiety, pica, or OCD.
Try to redirect your dog to a more appropriate toy or learn a different behavior if licking the couch after drinking water is getting out of control. Or maybe just invite them up on the couch and let them lick you instead!