We love our quirky four-legged superheroes! Dogs can be such awkward but adorable creatures. They have some behavioral patterns that make us hoomans think they’re more than weird. One of them is catching your dog sucking on a blanket. Now, don’t be worried because this behavior isn’t dangerous at all. But still, it would be nice to find its cause, wouldn’t it?
So, why do dogs suck on blankets? Are they teething or…? Does my dog have pica?
Well, some dog breeds are more prone to developing this habit than others.
If you’re wondering, “why do dogs suck on blankets?” and whether it can be stopped, we’ve got your back.
Here’s the answer to the unusual question: Why do dogs suck on blankets?
Why Do Dogs Chew Their Bedding And Blankies? Should I Be Worried?
It’s okay that you worry about this behavior. It means you care about your dog’s well-being. But the good news is, dog sucking on bedding and blankets is completely normal, just like seeing them lick their butts or licking you or your hands. As long as you take precautionary safety measures, take care of your dog’s health, food, and needs, you should not worry about sucking behavior.
It’s just a habit dogs develop in early puppyhood, and they can’t seem to shake it off. In fact, many dogs don’t even want to lose this habit because it soothes them.
But it’s important to differentiate between your dog sucking on a blanket and chewing on furniture. Chewing on furniture and your belongings is a destructive behavior that needs to be stopped immediately.
Take your dog to dog training lessons. An obedient dog is less likely to develop sucking or destructive behavior.
Why Do Dogs Nurse On Blankets? 6 Reasons Why
Puppy misses his mom
Puppies are mammals, meaning they used to nurse before they got to your place. Sucking on a blanket is just a way of your puppy comforting himself the way he used to feel comforted during nursing.
All puppies are born with an instinct to suckle. But, puppies don’t nurse only for the sake of food. Just like hooman babies, puppies suckle for comfort and the feeling of safety they get.
After weaning, some puppies don’t outgrow their need for comfort suckling, so they start suckling on blankets or even crying at night. The feeling they get is the same. It’s only what they’re suckling on that changes.
Puppies that have been separated from their mom too early can also exhibit this sucking behavior. It’s a self-soothing mechanism to help them cope with the separation. The same behavior occurs when the mother doesn’t allow the puppies to comfort suckle.
In addition, bottle-fed puppies can also suck on blankets. This is because the bottle only provides hunger satisfaction, not the comfort they’re looking for, so the blanket acts as a source of comfort.
If you know a thing or two about dogs, you’ll know they too can suffer from anxiety. Many factors from everyday life can trigger anxiety, e.g., loud noises, new people, or new locations.
A dog in distress will always try to self-soothe, which can lead to sucking on blankets. The sucking behavior that happens when the dog is in distress is a clear sign of anxiety.
If your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, he may also suck on blankets when you leave the house or when he is around new pets or people.
Sucking on a blanket is only one of the ways dogs self-soothe. If you see your pup sucking on a blanket when in distress or acting nervous, the important thing is to find the cause for the behavior and find a way to prevent further anxiety.
To answer that question from the beginning, teething can be a reason your dog sucks on blankets. Teething is an unpleasant sensation, but it’s a process that can’t be avoided. If you’ve got a young puppy, seeing him sucking on a blanket may be a sign of teething. Other signs include sucking on other items, like your slippers.
Once the sucking stops and you notice your puppy has a set of brand new teeth, you can relax. The sucking phase is over. But, just to make sure all your items stay intact, go buy some chew toys on Amazon.
Dogs have an incredibly strong sense of smell. Did you wonder if the blanket may smell of you? Maybe he’s nibbling on it to feel closer to you when you’re not around. Since puppies suck on blankets for comfort, this behavior is an obvious habit for puppies that stay alone at home for long periods of time.
Puppies suffering from separation anxiety will always suck on blankets. This behavior won’t do any harm, so you might as well allow him to search for comfort while you’re at work. After all, you wanted that special bond with your pup, so here it is!
Did your puppy stop sucking on a blanket after you washed it? That’s because he only liked the taste of the unwashed blanket. Gross, isn’t it? Well, dogs don’t think it’s gross. In fact, they find the unique taste of sweat, scents, and skin cells quite tasty.
If you’re bugged by the sight of your dog sucking on blankets, just wash it. If he stops with the sucking, you’ve found a solution to the problem.
Canine Compulsive Disorder
Are you aware that dogs with compulsive disorders are quite common? Signs of those disorders include repetitive grooming, flank chasing, and even sucking on blankets or other items.
Canine compulsive disorder is linked to genetics. Meaning, there are dog breeds more prone to this behavior than others.
If you suspect your puppy is suffering from a compulsive disorder, you should consult your vet. These disorders can cause harm and lead to self-injury if left untreated.
Are Some Breeds More Prone To Sucking Than Others?
This is a common question among pet parents, and yes, some dog breeds are more prone to exhibiting this behavior than others.
However, sucking is a natural urge found among many breeds, and it’s not an issue; it’s more of a self-soothing mechanism. All dogs, no matter their breed or if they’re puppies or adult dogs, can develop sucking behavior.
For example, Dobermans and Dachshunds can develop flank sucking, but this behavior is not the same as blanket sucking.
Flank sucking is more severe than blanket sucking as it’s a behavior where a dog sucks on some parts of its body. This behavior occurs when the dog is anxious or agitated. But, it’s not harmless as a dog can actually hurt himself.
What Can I Do About My Dog Sucking On Its Blanket?
Your dog sucking on a blanket is not dangerous, but it can bother you. If it gets on your nerves or freaks you out, there are things you can do to curb this habit.
Puppies should stay with their mother for as long as possible
Blanket sucking is a habit that starts as early as the newborn stage. It’s an alternative to suckling. If a breeder weans puppies too early, they will find something else to suckle for comfort, i.e., blankets, toys, pillows…
To avoid such behavior, you should keep the puppy with its mother for as long as possible. Sadly, early weaning is something you can’t always control. That’s why you should buy from reputable breeders and not from kennels or puppy mills. They won’t wean puppies too early.
Replace the blanket
Thanks to their smell sensitivity, dogs can detect over 50 smells. No wonder they’re so clingy with old blankets. They often reek to us humans, but they smell like the tastiest meal ever to dogs. If you catch your dog sucking on only one blanket, he may like the scent or the taste, so you can try replacing it with a new one. Most likely, your dog won’t even try sucking on the new blankie.
The assumption is that the old blanket has a familiar taste or scent, but changing it for a new blanket will result in your dog not being interested in it anymore, so your dog will drop this habit.
Make a distraction
Many dogs suck on blankets because they’re bored. Generally speaking, boredom is something you should avoid with dogs. Bored dogs get destructive and use coping mechanisms like sucking to entertain themselves.
One of the most important things to do for a dog is to provide them with enough exercise as well as mental stimulation. Interesting toys are a terrific way to minimize boredom and keep your pooch distracted. Distraction always works. The moment you see your puppy nibbling and sucking on a blanket, get a fun toy to distract them from doing it.
In addition, physical activity can benefit your dog and reduce the occurrence of sucking behavior.
Since separation anxiety can cause your dog to suck on blankets, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring your dog with you when you leave home. Many places are dog-friendly now and will be happy to see your dog tag along. Lots of alone time can only make the sucking behavior worse.
Find the triggers
Although this behavior is only a form of self-soothing, it shouldn’t be left unattended. Your dog may use the blanket as a pacifier, but the reasons he uses it are far more dangerous.
Dogs that are distress, depressed, and anxious are prone to this behavior. Once you figure out what causes your dog anxiety, you can eliminate that cause and leave your puppy feeling relieved.
You should also train your pooch to cope with situations that can be stressful to him. It will help your dog minimize the impact of the anxiety he feels.
Discourage this behavior
All dogs respond well to positive reinforcement. If you hand out treats and praise like crazy after your dog stops sucking, you can encourage him to stop this behavior completely.
When you catch your puppy sucking on a blanket, try talking them out of it. Give treats, show him an interesting soft toy or a stuffed animal he might find interesting, or say you’ll go for a walkie. Once the dog stops with the sucking, reward him.
Since your dog is really not doing anything bad, don’t be too harsh with discouraging him. You can end up provoking more anxiety and cause him to suck even more. Use a firm but gentle approach he’ll understand.
Visit the vet
Sucking behavior is absolutely fine unless it turns into compulsive behavior. The first sign of your dog suffering from compulsive behavior is seeing him suck on blankets or other items for hours every day. In that case, call your vet.
This behavior is rare, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It requires a diagnosis and medication if necessary.
Sometimes a dog can suck on an item that may be harmful, e.g., clothing items with sewn-on additions that can be swallowed or choked on.
Dog breeds like Dachshunds and Doberman Pinschers are susceptible to this disorder, but other breeds like Border Collies, Terriers, or Spaniels can also suffer from it.
A dog sucking on a blanket is the same as a toddler’s thumb sucking when he’s trying to fall asleep or is afraid of something, e.g., thunderstorms. Since dogs don’t have thumbs, they suckle on all sorts of things besides blankets, including some dangerous objects.
Follow your dog closely and pay attention to what he’s doing. If the dog acts cheerful and seems to be happy, there’s no need to worry.
But, better safe than sorry! Here are some precautionary measures you can take.
Clean the blanket
Doggie snuggle blankets are an ideal place for germs and bacteria to develop. They catch dirt and smell easily. If your puppy keeps on sucking on dirty blankets, he can develop an infection.
Wash your dog’s blanket regularly. Sometimes clean blankets may scare them away from repeating this behavior. Your little sucker will drop the habit like that!
Watch for choking hazards
Unfortunately, sucking behavior doesn’t exclude items other than their favorite blankets. Dogs can and will suck on other things, including toys, your shoes, or your favorite sweater if they get their paws on it. Sewn-on buttons, beads, sequins, and other objects are a choking hazard and need to be watched closely. Don’t allow your dog to suck on items containing these.
A puppy that swallows a bead or button can choke on it or develop an intestinal blockage. They can even ingest something toxic, so be extra careful! Always check your dog’s toys for choking hazards and closely monitor what he’s sucking.
Should You Stop Your Dog From Sucking On Blankets?
No matter if it freaks you out or you find it adorable, a dog’s sucking behavior is something you shouldn’t be worried about. It’s natural and completely harmless. Why should you stop your dog from doing something that gives him comfort and safety when you’re not around? Sure, when you’re home, cuddle more often and give your dog much-needed attention.
If you try to stop your dog abruptly, he may even develop anxiety. This dog behavior starts in early puppyhood and is linked to your pup’s emotional state from an early age.
So, by all means, let your dog suck on blankets or toys. Have him calm down in his cozy dog bed, nibbling and sucking his favorite blanket. He may miss his mother dog, he may feel a bit anxious, he may be a rescue dog trying to adapt to his new life. Let him be, but of course, follow the safety rules above.
1. Why Do Dogs Mess Up Blankets?
Back in the day when dogs were used as companions in the wild, they used to dig holes in the ground to keep them warm. This behavior is stuck in their DNA, so many dogs nowadays still exhibit digging, even on surfaces that can’t be dug.
The reason your dog messes up blankets is that he doesn’t see a comfortable, freshly-made bed. He sees a place to settle down and make it comfortable for his nap.
2. Why Does My Dog Chew Holes In Blankets?
The reason your dog chews holes in blankets may lie in the fact he’s acting aggressive and destructive. Such dogs exhibit signs of social anxiety, depression, or boredom. You should try to find the reason your dog acts this way and solve the issue.
Also, dogs can chew holes in blankets if they suck on them for too long. The material may break down since it’s been used too often, but this is unintentional damage.
3. Why Does My Dog Chew On Blankets When He’s Excited?
Your dog chews on blankets when he’s excited exactly because he’s excited. In fact, he’s trying to calm down and process what’s going on. It’s a sort of self-soothing mechanism that works wonders. Chewing on blankets when he’s excited can remind you of puppies kneading their mom when nursing. It’s a way of showing how satisfied they are.
To Sum Up…
Photo from: @frank_ralph_stanley
Let’s repeat it one more time: So, why do dogs suck on blankets?
We understand that you, as a dog owner, are very worried about your dog, but you really shouldn’t be. Dogs sucking on items is completely normal and expected behavior.
That is, as long as the puppy is happy and healthy.
Watch for the first signs of depression or separation or social anxiety. You shouldn’t really let your dog go through that issue alone. Find the trigger and solve it once and for all.
A puppy sucking on a blanket may look adorable, but it’s a behavior that demands special attention at the slightest suspicion there is something else going on.
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