How can I get my dog to stop licking the carpet?

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Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – my dog licks the carpet all the time, he is 14 and it is getting worse. He will not stop licking, licking and more licking, please help me, my wife is running out of patience.

Lalo Basurto

Answer

Hi – thanks for your email Lalo. You wrote that your 14-year-old dog has a long history of licking the carpet that has gotten worse. That is tough – especially if it has been going on for 14 years!

You can consult a behaviorist on additional tips but I'll give you some thoughts and ideas. Some you may have already tried.

  • You can try conditioning your dog NOT to lick the carpet. You can try rewarding positive behavior when he doesn't. If he is on the carpet and not licking – give him a treat and praise. He may have learned that he gets attention when he licks and continues to do it. Ignore him when he licks and give him positive attention when he doesn't.
  • Make sure he has plenty of "keep busy" type toys such as the Kong® that you can put a treat in to keep him busy.
  • Keep him off the carpet. Most folks don't want to change their flooring but an option would be to not have carpet. This is an extreme and obvious solution but thought we should still include it.
  • Keep your dog crated when he can't be supervised.
  • See a behaviorist to discuss if this condition could be a compulsive condition that could benefit from drug therapy.

    Best of luck!

    Dr. Debra

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