Seeing your pooch lick their lips or various objects is no strange thing. After all, dogs communicate through licking and it is often seen as a way for dogs to achieve some form of acceptance from their owners or another more superior pack member.
Most dogs also lick out of sheer curiosity. When walking around, licking different items is a way for them to explore their environment, especially for young pups.
However, whilst licking is normal behavior for dogs, excessive licking is an issue many pooches have.
If you have noticed that your dog has started to lick objects, such as their crate, more and more, it could be a sign that something is affecting your pet.
From stress to underlying medical conditions, excessive licking can be linked to various issues.
If your dog loves to lick his or her crate more than you think is usual, you are not alone in worrying. Many pet owners notice this with their dogs and often get worried about why this is happening.
Today, we are going to hopefully put your mind at ease with a number of possible reasons why your furry best friend is licking their crate excessively.
We will also go through some steps on how you can stop them from doing so.
Table of Contents:
Reasons Why Your Dog is Licking Their Crate
There are a number of possible reasons why your dog is acting in this peculiar way. Below are some of the most common ones.
OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
When a dog is frightened, bored, or has a mixture of emotions, they can sometimes exhibit obsessive compulsive behavior.
On occasions, such behavior can become compulsive when happening excessively, without any cause from their surroundings.
Whether your dog is licking their crate, the air, or different objects a lot, all can be a sign of such behavior.
Other signs include constant barking, manic spinning, persistent tail chasing, and frantic pacing up and down.
Obsessive behavior, such as this, often stems from stress, but in some circumstances, it can be down to an underlying medical condition.
Just like humans twiddle their thumbs or tap their legs when they’re bored, dogs can act in mysterious ways when they are left alone in their crate for too long.
If your pooch has been cooped up in their crate for a few days, they will get bored.
To pass the time (although dogs have no concept of this), they may try and entertain themselves, such as licking their crate.
Dogs may find that excessive licking is a form of coping mechanism when they are anxious or stressed. If a dog is tied up or confined in a small space for longer periods, they may start to act compulsively.
This is particularly common in dogs that live in hostile, competitive, or unstable environments. If they suffer from abuse, or have in the past, licking could soothe their minds.
Sometimes, they may feel isolated and suffer from separation anxiety. All of this can lead to erratic behavior.
Trying To Gain Your Attention
It is pretty common to see a dog lick their crate to simply get attention from their owners.
If you find that you usually move over to the crate or shout at them when they do this, then they will continue to believe that licking is the best way to get your attention.
The Crate Is Tasty
Sometimes, there may be some traces of food left on a crate that your dog likes the taste of.
This is common for dogs who are fed in their crates. Even water droplets can cause a dog to lick their crate excessively as they enjoy the moisture.
In rarer cases, licking of a crate can be a sign of a gastrointestinal disorder. These can include irritable bowel syndrome, pancreatitis, giardia infections, inflammatory bowel diseases, and even symptoms such as nausea.
Some other medical concerns can also cause these behaviors, including viral or bacterial infections, epilepsy, and head injuries. If you fear this could be the case, visit your vet as soon as possible.
Cognitive Dysfunction Caused By Age
Some older dogs may start to exhibit odd behavior patterns as they grow older, especially those over the age of six.
One common behavior is excessive licking. Cognitive dysfunction can impact many older dogs, causing them to lick themselves, inanimate objects, and others more often than usual.
A dog’s mental functioning can deteriorate as they age resulting in compulsive behavior.
Some other symptoms include disorientation, your dog forgetting behaviors they have learned in the past, and less interest in social interactions.
Look out for these symptoms, especially in middle aged and older dogs. If you think this could be the cause, consult with your veterinarian.
How To Stop Your Dog Licking Their Crate
There are a few things you can try to reduce or even stop your dog from licking their crate. Let’s take a look at a few below.
Dogs need a good deal of exercise. Most dogs tend to be well behaved when they are tired, so the more physical exercise they get, the calmer they should be.
The more energy they have, however, the more ways they may try to burn it off, such as licking objects.
Try to increase the amount of exercise your dog gets. This could be an extra walk a day or a longer playtime session.
Best of all, this means you can spend more time with your pooch and stimulate the dog mentally and physically.
Increased Mental Stimulation
Sometimes, your dog is just bored. Therefore, they may just need some increased mental stimulation.
This can be in the form of longer walks, puzzle feeders, or interactive toys to play with.
It can even be as simple as spending more time with your dog, such as cuddling them and making more of a fuss about them.
This is good for you and your dog, and may take their mind away from licking their crate.
Move The Crate
You can try to move the location of the crate so your dog cannot see or reach you. This will stop them licking the crate if they do so to get your attention.
Place A Toy In The Crate
If your furry buddy is new to crate training, or is just bored, you can try placing a toy in their crate.
By doing this, they may start to associate the crate with more positive aspects of life, such as playing and become more comfortable with it. A chew toy or their favorite toy is a good place to start.
Consult With A Behaviorist
If you have tried everything and anything to stop your dog licking his or her crate, then you can try contacting a behaviorist or dog trainer.
They may be able to identify the source of such behavior and find a way to stop it. They will then work with you to make a plan and put it into action, as well as provide support along the way.
Sometimes, dogs can act in strange ways that are not like their normal selves. But, like humans, they can experience times of stress and confusion leading to changes in their behavior.
Most of the time, you can help your dog with some simple changes in their lifestyle.
Behavioral changes, including excessive licking, can also be a sign of an underlying health issue. If you believe this is the case, consult with your veterinarian to find the best course of action moving forward.