It seems that dogs are always licking. They lick to show their love and affection to you and others around them. Or they lick to themselves to scratch an itch or to self-soothe. They even lick inanimate objects like blankets! But why do they do this, specifically, and is it normal? Here is all you need to know.
So, why does my dog lick blankets? Dogs lick blankets for a few reasons. It’s an instinctual behavior from their puppyhood when they would lick their mother’s fur. Licking releases endorphins that make them feel good. They also lick to investigate scents and self-soothe.
Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets?
For Comfort and To Self Soothe
One theory is that licking blankets is a self-soothing behavior for dogs.
The repetitive motion and texture of the blanket on their tongue seems to have a calming effect.
Like infants who suck their thumbs, blanket licking may be a way for dogs to comfort themselves when anxious.
Exploration and Curiosity
As naturally curious creatures, dogs use their mouths to explore their environment.
Licking blankets may simply be a way for them to examine an object that smells interesting.
Puppies especially like to mouth and chew on things as they investigate their surroundings.
Boredom and Stress Relief
Dogs prone to boredom or stress may turn to blankets as an outlet.
The act of licking provides distraction and stress relief, in much the same way as people bite their nails or chew gum when anxious.
Blanket licking gives them something harmless to focus their energy on.
Interesting Smells and Tastes
Let’s face it – dogs love stinky, tasty things. When we wear blankets, we leave behind traces of our scent, skin cells, sweat, etc.
Dogs pick up on these smells and find them intriguing.
Licking allows them to get a better sense of the smells and tastes left behind on the fabric. It’s like they’re gathering clues about us.
Dogs with dental disease, broken teeth or abscesses sometimes excessively lick blankets and fabrics.
The pressure and texture seem to soothe their mouth discomfort.
Blanket licking in older dogs may be a sign of undetected dental problems that should be checked by a vet.
Some dogs learn that licking blankets gets a reaction from their owners.
The behavior starts innocently enough, but once they realize we yell “stop licking that!” they’ve learned blanket licking is an easy way to get attention.
It becomes a habit.
Is Blanket Licking Harmful?
For the most part, a dog licking blankets is harmless behavior. As long as they are not actually eating pieces of fabric, chewing or sucking on a blanket shouldn’t cause any medical issues.
However, in some cases obsessive blanket licking could be a sign of anxiety, boredom or other problems that need addressing.
If the behavior seems excessive or is paired with other concerning issues, check with your vet.
Otherwise, occasional blanket licking is just an odd canine quirk.
Managing Blanket Licking In Your Dog
The simplest way to curb excessive blanket licking is to limit your dog’s access to tempting blankets and fabrics.
Keep bedroom and living room doors closed, use baby gates to block off areas, crate train your dog or confine them when you’re away.
The less opportunity they have to lick and chew blankets, the less likely it’ll become a habit.
Distract With Chew Toys and Playtime
Try redirecting your dog’s oral fixation by engaging them with chew toys and play.
A good game of fetch or tug of war and keeping tasty chews on hand provides harmless chewing outlets and mental stimulation.
Make sure your dog gets sufficient physical and mental exercise to prevent boredom.
Use Bitter Anti-Chew Sprays
Spraying blankets with bitter anti-chew deterrents can help make them unappealing. Test small areas first, since some dogs ignore the taste.
Reapply frequently, since the bitterness fades over time. Never use harsh chemicals that could be toxic if licked or ingested.
Ensure Adequate Exercise
Dogs prone to obsessive licking and chewing often aren’t getting their needs for exercise and mental enrichment fully met.
Make sure your dog gets adequate walks, play time, and chances to use their brain.
A tired dog is less likely to develop repetitive, neurotic behaviors like excessive blanket licking.
Dogs love to lick.
While occasional blanket licking is harmless, destructive chewing habits can damage belongings.
With training, distraction, and meeting your dog’s needs, you can curb obsessive blanket licking.
Be patient, as changing habits takes time. If the issue persists, consult your vet or a professional trainer.
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I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.