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Why Does My Dog Lick the Floor? 4 Reasons for This Behavior

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By Nicole Cosgrove

a puppy dog ​​licks the floor

Dogs lick for all kinds of reasons. They use taste as a powerful method of interpreting the world around them. A tiny lick here and there helps them know where you have been, where they might be going, and other things so they can interpret their situation.

Although this licking can be irritating sometimes, it is often a healthy behavior. Small licks are usual for a dog. Excessive licking of any kind frequently comes down to a lack of training or some kind of health issue.

Sometimes the location that they choose to lick can help you determine what is going on with them. We have a list of reasons that your dog might excessively lick the floor, the floorboards, and the walls and when to take it seriously.

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Why Does My Dog Lick the Floor?

Dogs have plenty of natural behaviors that are sometimes difficult for us to understand. One of these is their tendency to lick all over the place. If you have noticed this going on for a while and wondered why they might be doing it, there are two main reasons.

Why Dogs Lick the Floor

1. Hunting for Food

One of the most common reasons that dogs lick the floor throughout the day is to pick up the tastes left behind by dropped food. If you typically walk around and eat, you drop crumbs while you go. Dogs are quick studies and will know to follow behind you, licking up your trail.

Dog licking raw egg
Image Credit: Nicholas_Demetriades, Pixabay

2. Funky Smells

A dog’s sense of smell is their greatest ally when it comes to interpreting the world. It tells them so many more things than our sense of smell does. It is difficult even to imagine what they can pick up just by sniffing around them.

The information that they can gather through smell is quickly enhanced when they add in taste. That is why you will often see your dog sniff something intently, only to follow up by licking it, no matter what it is. If they smell something different around your home, they will likely give it a good lick to help them figure it out.

Sudden Licking

When a dog begins to lick at the walls and floor suddenly, it is often a sign of an issue instead of a behavioral tendency. If you notice them doing something intently for a long time, especially obsessively, it is a good idea to take them to see your veterinarian.

3. Gastrointestinal Disorder

Gastrointestinal problems are often the triggers for when dogs begin excessively licking the floors. Another sign can be when they rub their cheeks against the walls hard and for a long time. They might be trying to just get a few nutrients.

4. ELS (Excessive Licking of Surfaces)

Excessive licking of surfaces (ELS) is a health issue that could be causing your pup to go on their licking rampage. It is defined as a licking over the normal intensity, longevity, and frequency that they use for exploration.

ELS is part of gastrointestinal disorders that pups can suffer from tied to this behavioral concern. It is necessary to take your dog to the veterinarian right away to figure out what GI abnormality is causing this behavior. The health issues that dogs could have can be quite severe.

dog on floor
Image Credit: ronjo, Pixabay

Potential GI abnormalities that could manifest in ELS include:

  • Lymphoplasmacytic infiltration on the GI tract
  • Constipation
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Giardiasis
  • Gastric foreign body

ELS is often the symptom caused by the pain and anxiety that the dog is feeling. Dealing with the issue is the best way for them to calm down, but until their symptoms start to be relieved, you can also help keep them calm and relaxed.

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How to Stop Dogs From Licking the Floor

Depending on the reason that your dog licks the floor, you might be able to prevent them from doing it. This is likely best for your home’s maintained health and cleanliness and the people who live in it.

Take Them to the Vet

Whenever you notice an abnormal change in your pet’s behavior, it is always best to start by taking them to the vet. It is almost always more effective to treat a health issue if you catch it sooner rather than later.

Perhaps your dog only licks the floor infrequently or follows behind you as you eat. You won’t have to worry about taking them to the vet in this case. If you notice excessive licking quite frequently, though, it is best to get them checked out.

Keep the Floor Clean

Your next option is to keep your floors clean if you have taken your dog to the vet and found out that they are in good health. Clean the floors with a pet-safe cleaner frequently to limit the number of things that your dog can smell, so they will be less likely to try to lick them.

Morkie sitting on floor
Image Credit: Ursula Page, Shutterstock

Another way to limit your dog licking on the floor is to stop eating anywhere but at the table or in certain areas. Don’t eat while you walk around, or you could end up encouraging your dog to lick up the crumbs after you.

Distract Them

Some dogs lick the floor out of anxiety or boredom. Both of these can be resolved by distracting them or limiting the thing that causes them anxiety.

If you notice that they get anxious when you leave for long periods, consider having someone come over and check on them in the middle of long workdays or try to visit more often over your lunch break if you live close enough.

Is your dog bored and just needs a distraction? Each time you catch them licking the floor, give them a toy to play with and distract them from this behavior. Correct it each time, and they will learn to direct their boredom toward their toys and other healthier things than the floor.

Exercise Them More Often

A bored dog is frequently in need of more exercise. If you have a high-energy dog, they will frequently take it out on you or the home by licking things or destroying them.

Exercise is the best way to correct most behavioral issues in pups. If you don’t take them out on walks, runs, hikes, and swims or to the dog park enough, they may end up taking out this energy on you and your belongings.

Shih tzu dog running for ball
Image Credit: chaoss, Shutterstock

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In Summary: Why Dogs Lick The Floor

Whether it is from boredom or a gastrointestinal disorder, licking the floor is a common behavior and can be curbed. Dogs can’t communicate with us verbally, even though they might try sometimes. Instead, their behaviors tell us what we need to know about their health and how they feel. It is our job as their owners to help interpret these behaviors and keep them healthy.

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Featured Image Credit: avishag shuva, Shutterstock

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