September 6, 2022

Why do Dogs Lick Blankets?   

When you bring home your new pup, it’s an absolute joy. You’ll soon find that you both have some challenges ahead of you though, ranging from training your dog to potty train, to helping him get used to sleeping downstairs at night.

Here though we discuss something you may not have thought about it until it starts happening.

Why do dogs lick blankets and furniture?

So if you find your dog has developed a habit of licking his blanket, bed, the furniture, and/or any other soft furnishings he can reach this article should help you.

Why do dogs lick blankets

Unsure if it’s normal and don’t know what to do about it? We’ve got you covered.

Later, we’ll share some tips on what you can do to prevent blanket-licking from becoming a habit.  First though, let’s address the question of why dogs like licking blankets.

Dogs lick blankets for many reasons. Those reasons reason fall into two broad categories, either medical or as a learned behaviour that brings them comfort. A puppy may do it because it reminds him of you.  This isn’t a normal behaviour in dogs and can signal that something is bothering your pup.  

Let’s dive deeper and find out why it’s possible no soft furnishings in your house may be safe from being licked.

Why does my dog lick fabric?

There are multiple reasons why your dog might lick fabric, whether it be the sofa, pillows, your armchair, blankets, or his bed. Some common reasons for it include boredom, anxiety or stress, loneliness or, in some cases, it can be a sign of a medical condition.

This kind of licking can become a habit if you so nothing about it. Before we explore how to deal with it, let’s cover one reason your dog might lick fabric. Licking things repeatedly releases endorphins that make them feel better because endorphins are a natural painkiller.

Most commonly, this behaviour is an occasional response to stress or loneliness.

If this is the sort of licking your pup displays, you may be able to distract your dog by adding more exercise, playing and stimulation to his routine. You could give him some puzzle toys or take him to a play group, because exercise is known to help relieve stress.  Check out our post on puppy play groups.   

Sometimes, licking can become an obsessive behaviour that your dog is compelled to engage in. If you cannot distract your dog from licking fabric, the soft furnishings, or his bed, it is a sign that it is compulsive behaviour.

If you think your dog is exhibiting compulsive behaviour and socialisation and stimulation is not working, contact your vet to discuss ways to help your dog, perhaps with some anti-anxiety medication.

Your dog could also have health problems that drive him to lick fabric. Such behaviour could be a sign of:

  • Kidney problems (especially when accompanied by an increased thirst).
  • Stomach or intestinal complaints.
  • Dementia (in older dogs).
  • Dental problems.

Before we discuss how to deal with excessive licking, let’s discover why your pup might be fond of licking his bed.

What does it mean when a dog licks their bedding?

We all know that it’s in a dog’s nature to lick. But what does this common habit mean?

Fortunately, there is usually a simple explanation and it’s rarely a cause for concern, but you should look out for older dogs who suddenly start to lick. If you are not sure what breed your dog is, read my post Identify my Dog Breed.

Let’s cover some of the most common reasons dogs lick their bed.

Marking his territory

As territorial animals, dogs like staking a claim to what is theirs. Licking their beds is a way to spread their sent and mark it as theirs when they get ready to sleep.

He has stashed treats there

Your pup could have hidden a treat in his bed earlier, and his licking his bed to hover up crumbs, or because he can still small food. If this behaviour bothers you, feed your dog away from the bed, so he doesn’t come to associate it with where he eats.

He’s seeking attention, is bored, or stressed

Dogs are pack animals and will lick their beds because they are stress, bored, want attention or as a sign of submission.

If you spot a pattern to when your dog licks his bed, it may go some way to explaining his behaviour. Try giving your pup a little extra love and see if it solves the problem.

He has separation anxiety

As your dog grows, he will become familiar with your routine. If you spot that your furry friend starts to lick his bed at about the time you head out to work, it might be a sign that your pooch has separation anxiety.

This can affect older dogs and puppies alike. Keep an eye out for signs of it and reassure your dog that you’ll return soon. You could leave him with his favourite toy and be as cheerful as you can, so he knows he doesn’t need to worry and that you won’t be gone forever.

Don’t forget to show him some love when you get back, so that he knows you’re happy to be back with him.

He might be unwell

If your dog isn’t feeling well, particularly if he’s feeling sick, he will probably start to lick his bed and chew things.

If there has been no recent change to his diet, it may be a sign that your dog is getting older, and his body is less tolerant of the foods he used to relish. If you spot a pattern in his behaviour, you may be able to identify the cause. Perhaps a certain kind of food doesn’t suit him.

If there is a sudden change in your dog’s behaviour though, it’s best to have your vet check him over.

It’s time to find out what you can do to stop your dog from licking his bed and blankets.

How do you stop a dog from licking a blanket?

Now we’ve seen what causes dogs to lick fabric and blankets, what can we do to discourage such behaviour? Much of the time, licking is caused by anxiety or are based on learned behaviour. So, taking a behavioural-based approach to finding a solution is a good idea.

Spot and stop

When you see your dog licking his blanket, his bed, or the furniture stop him immediately, the same as you would if you were to spot them doing their business in the house.

Your dog views you as the master of the house and yearns to be loyal to you.

Help your pup to socialise more

Dogs are social beings, just like humans. They need to mix with other dogs. This will help them feel relaxed and happy, although they may need time to get use to socialising, so be patient. To help your pup socialise, you can:

  • Take your dog to the park.
  • Organise puppy playdate.
  • Participate in a puppy play group.
  • Visit a friend who also has a dog and let the pooches get to know each other.

Check your dog’s diet

What your dog eats could be making them more anxious leading to excessive licking. He could have an allergy, or there could be additives in his food that don’t agree with him.

Try making some changes and see if that solves the problem.

Control access to his blanket

When everything else you’ve tried has proved fruitless, try only giving your dog his blanket when you’re there to watch him.

If you are there to correct him when he goes to chew and lick his blanket, he may realise that what he is doing isn’t acceptable.  

Give him something else to lick our chew

You can guide your pooch towards better behaviour by switching the blanket for something he’s allowed to lick and chew, like a chew toy. Read about the best chew toys for puppies here.

You can also by him a chewing mat to give him a better outlet for his habit. Giving your pup a treat may help distract him from his worry if anxiety is fuelling his behaviour.

Remember, chewing and licking is your dog’s way of exploring the world, but when it gets too much, give him something else to focus on that’s more rewarding and will help reduce their anxiety.

Wrapping up

As you can see, excessive licking is often no cause for concern, and may be tiggered by something as simple as anxiety, boredom, or just being a bit under the weather. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of why your dog tends to lick his bed and blankets, and what you can do to save your furniture from getting a good licking.

Why not try using a few of the tips shared above to start teaching your pup not to lick his blanket and the soft furnishings? If you’re still concerned, or spot a sudden alteration in your dog’s behaviour, seek advice from your vet.

Read my latest posts here:

This is Beans Blog

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram