If your dog has been licking blankets a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you a number of possible causes and what you can do about them.
So, why does my dog lick blankets? Possible reasons why your dog has been licking blankets are that it is anxious, it likes the taste due to sweat or dead skin cells on the blanket, it smells your scent on the blanket or that it is a compulsive behavior.
Since there are a number of possible reasons why your dog has been licking your blanket, it would help to consider what would make each of them more likely. Once you have a good idea of the most likely cause, it should become easier to get your dog to stop doing it.
Why your dog licks blankets
Below are common reasons why dogs do it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
The reason might be that it is due to an obsessive-compulsive disorder. This is where it has an irresistible urge to lick blankets so it keeps doing it. This would be more likely if it has been licking blankets constantly for a few weeks now. In this case, the best option would be to get help from a vet.
Anxiety could be what has been causing it to do it. This would be more likely if it has started doing it after something happened that could make it anxious or if it does it more at a time where it is likely to be anxious. Examples could be if it does it more when a certain person is around, when you are about to leave home or when there are loud noises coming from outside.
If it tends to do it more when you are not home, it would be more likely that it is due to separation anxiety. This would be more likely if your dog tends to become anxious when you are leaving home and if it licks the blankets that you use yourself since they likely have a strong scent from you on them. It would help to try to limit reasons why it might be anxious by doing things such as exercising and feeding it before leaving it so that it is more likely to sleep while you are away.
It likes the taste
When you sleep, sweat and dead skin cells will gather on the blanket which tastes salty to your dog. The reason why it licks blankets could be that it likes the way that they taste. This would be more likely if it tends to lick blankets that you have been using and if it does not lick them as much after you wash them.
If it does seem to be doing it due to liking the taste, it could be a sign that there is something wrong with its diet. This would be more likely if it started doing it after a change in its diet.
It smells your scent
It is likely that the blanket has a strong scent on it. The reason why it tends to lick the blanket could be that it smells you scent on it and that the scent causes it to feel calmer. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when you are not around.
You have been inadvertently rewarding it
The reason why it licks blankets could be that you have been inadvertently training it to do so. This would be more likely to be the reason if you tend to give it things that it wants such as attention, treats or toys when it licks your blankets. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it does not do it and to try to redirect its focus when it seems likely to start doing it.
Things to consider
Below are some things to consider when figuring out the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
What else happened when your dog first started licking blankets
If your dog did not always lick blankets, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it might be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.
If it started doing it suddenly, it could be due to things such as if you started leaving it for longer periods causing it to get anxious, food or drink getting stuck to the blanket or it might have learned that it gets rewarded for doing it.
What is different when it does it
It would also help to consider the timing of when your dog tends to do it since it might be the case that the timing has something to do with it. For example, if it tends to do it more when you are not home, it would be more likely to be the case that it does it due to separation anxiety.
How often it does it
It would also help to consider how often your dog does it. If it has been licking the blankets constantly then it would be more likely to be compulsive behavior and something you’ll want to get help on from a vet or dog behaviorist.
If it does it less often then it would help to consider what is different when it does do it.
What to do about your dog licking blankets
Below are some options you have when getting your dog to stop doing it.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
As mentioned above, it might be the case that you have inadvertently encouraged the behavior by giving your dog rewards when it does it. Instead, it would help to reward your dog when it does not do it, to wait for it to stop before giving it any rewards and to try to redirect its focus when it seems likely to start doing it.
Ensure that it is getting the right diet
It would also help to make sure that it is getting the right diet. You can look here to see what you should and should not be feeding your dog.
Get help from a vet
If your dog has been doing it excessively, the best option would be to take your dog to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular dog and to rule out more serious causes.
Reduce its access to your blankets
Another option would be to make it more difficult for your dog to get access to your blankets so that it is less likely to start licking them.
Give it other things to lick
In addition to the above, you could also give it things to be distracted with so that it is less likely to want to lick blankets. Things that you could give it could be toys, puzzle games or bones.
Leave it training
You could also do lots of leave it training with your dog. To do this you would:
- Get some treats that it likes and the blanket
- Tell it to leave it
- Reward it for not licking the blanket
- Take the blanket away whenever it tries to lick the blanket
- Repeat the above until it learns not to lick it