Why Does My Dog Lick Blankets and Other Fabrics?

Have you ever noticed your pup licking their favorite blanket or toy? You may be curious as to why dogs display this behavior and what it means. From calming down while they sleep, to releasing feel-good hormones, experts weigh in on the potential causes behind this common canine action.

Key takeaways

Dogs licking blankets can be a sign of comfort, stress relief, or grooming behavior.
Licking blankets may also stem from puppies’ habits or imitating mother’s cleaning.
Certain health issues like anxiety, allergies, or gastrointestinal problems can lead to excessive licking.
Try addressing the behavior by providing chew toys, distraction, or consulting a vet if it’s excessive.
Regular cleaning of the blanket is essential to prevent ingestion of harmful substances.

Experts Share 5 Reasons Why Dogs Can’t Stop Licking Blankets

1. Exploring their Environment

Some experts believe scent-driven behaviors, such as licking blankets, stem from dogs exploring their environment. Dogs have an amazing sense of smell and use it to understand the things around them.

When they lick a blanket they are likely getting a more detailed understanding of their surroundings, especially if the blanket has many different smells on it from other people or animals that visit your home.

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2. Enjoying the Taste or Texture of the Blanket.

Dogs enjoy licking because they have a penchant for the taste and texture of certain materials. They might find the feeling of the soft fabric on their tongue to be quite pleasant and comforting, especially when they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

For this reason, some dogs use repetitive licking as a way to calm themselves down—similar to how humans might take deep breaths or engage in mindfulness activities when feeling overwhelmed.

3. Comfort or Stress Relief.

Licking blankets might also be a kind of self-soothing behavior for dogs. This type of licking helps to reduce stress levels and is often triggered by strong emotions such as fear or anxiety. Dogs may resort to this safe, familiar behavior when facing a stressful situation as a way to cope.

4. Starting a Familiar Habit They’ve Learned from Playmates or Owners. 

Dogs may also be licking their blankets as a form of imitation because it’s a behavior that they’ve learned from other dogs or their owners. This type of reinforcement is often seen in puppies and shy dogs who depend on adults for comfort.

In such cases, the urge to lick might come from the positive reinforcement they receive when they engage in the behavior.

5. A Sign of Separation Anxiety.

Another potential cause of blanket-licking behavior is anxiety or loneliness. Dogs can be prone to separation anxiety if their owners are away for extended periods of time, or if they don’t receive enough attention from their humans.

In such cases, licking blankets or other soft fabrics may provide them with comfort and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Now let’s explore how to manage your dog licking blankets and other fabrics, and potentially reduce the occurrence.

What is my dog thinking?

Licking blankets can be soothing for dogs, almost like a pacifying behavior. It might also be a sign that they’re trying to clean the blanket, especially if it has their or your scent.

Also read:

https://www.warmlypet.com/dog-breeds-that-like-to-sleep-under-the-covers/

Expert Tips to Stop Your Dog from Licking Blankets and Other Fabric

If your beloved pup is constantly licking blankets and fabric, it’s understandable to want to get them to stop. However, it’s important to treat the issue with patience and understanding. With some positive reinforcement and plenty of love, you can retrain your four-legged companion and help them break the habit.

1. Take Note of Triggers.

If you notice that your dog becomes particularly eager to lick blankets and other fabric after certain activities, such as being pet or cuddled, there may be a link between their licking and how they are feeling.

Make note of when their behavior is more pronounced and attempt to determine if any particular activities might be triggering it.

2. Create a Distraction When Necessary.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to keep your dog from licking fabric. If your pet is unnaturally fixated on a piece of clothing, you can use distractions to divert their attention. Use a toy or treat and engage them in something else until they forget about the material they were licking.

This method takes patience and repetition, but it can also prevent your dog from associating certain activities with fabric-licking behavior.

3. Use an Unpleasant Taste to Deter Them.

If your dog is a persistent licker, you can try using an unpleasant taste to deter them. There are certain pet sprays that have an unappealing flavor that your pup won’t like, but easy enough for you to clean up without issue.

Make sure to follow the directions on the product carefully and test it out on a small area of fabric first to ensure it isn’t damaging the material. This solution will help your pup learn the difference between their toys and your fabrics!

4. Provide an Alternative Behavior for the Dog to Perform Instead.

Another way to get your pup to stop licking the fabric is by teaching them an alternative behavior they can choose instead of reflexively licking. For instance, you can train them to lick a toy or chew a treat each time they return their focus to that particular piece of furniture.

With enough practice and consistency, your pup will eventually recognize that it’s more rewarding for them to pursue alternate activities than their habitual fabric-licking.

5. Monitor the Time and Pay Attention to What They Are Doing Before They Start Licking Fabrics Again.

If you want to retrain your pup away from their blanket and fabric obsession, start by monitoring the time they spend on it. Notice what they’re doing beforehand and see if there is a specific pattern to when they start licking blankets and other fabrics.

Knowing when they are most likely to pick up their old habits can help you prepare material objects that will distract them, like toys or treats. This will help them build a new habit of focusing their attention on those objects instead.

Final Thoughts

Your dog’s blanket-licking habit can stem from a variety of causes, ranging from a harmless self-soothing mechanism to potential health issues. While occasional licking is generally normal, excessive behavior should not be ignored. Always keep an eye out for any drastic changes in their actions or frequency of this habit.

It’s crucial to regularly clean their blankets and provide alternatives like chew toys. If the licking persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, a consultation with your vet is recommended to rule out any health problems and ensure your furry friend’s well-being.

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