If your dog keeps licking your pillow, you probably want to know why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you a number of reasons why your dog might be doing it and how you can get it to stop.
So, why does my dog lick my pillow? A common reason why your dog might lick your pillow is that it likes the taste. It could also be that you have been inadvertently rewarding the behavior, it makes it feel more secure or that it is compulsive behavior.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your dog licks your pillow. Once you have a good idea of the cause it will become much easier to get it to stop.
Why your dog licks your pillow
Each of the different reasons why your dog licks your pillow will likely come with a number of clues in the way that it does it.
Below, I’ll show you a number of reasons why your dog might be doing it and what would make them more likely.
It likes the taste
When you sleep, sweat and dead skin cells will gather on the pillow which taste salty. The reason why it licks your pillow could be that it likes the way that it tastes. This would be more likely if you can get quite sweaty during the night.
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 has some separation anxiety
The reason why it licks it might be that it has some separation anxiety. This is where being left alone causes your dog to become anxious. This would be more likely to be the reason if your dog licks your pillow when you are not around and if it shows signs of being anxious when you are about to leave.
Related: Why does my dog get in my face?
It could be the case that it is a compulsive behavior that it has developed. This is where your dog does a repetitive behavior a lot without seeming to be able to stop. It would be more likely that your dog does it compulsively if it has been licking it a lot for months.
If it does seem to be doing it compulsively then it would help to take it to a vet.
You have been inadvertently rewarding it
The reason why it licks the pillow 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 pillow.
Nutritional deficiency or Pica
Pica is where your dog starts eating things that it should not be usually due to a nutritional deficiency. It might be the case that your dog has been licking your pillow due to a nutritional deficiency. This would be more likely if your dog has been licking other non-edible things as well and if your dog has been trying to eat things that it should not be. In this case, it would be best to take your dog to a vet for a checkup.
Things to consider
Below, I will mention some particularly helpful things to consider when trying to figure out why your dog licks your pillow. Once you have a better idea of the cause it will be easier to take the appropriate action.
When your dog first started licking your pillow
It would help to consider the timing of when your dog started licking your pillow. If it didn’t always do it then it could be that there was an event that triggered it to start doing it.
Some things that could have happened could be:
- You inadvertently rewarded it for doing it once
- You were very sweaty in the night
- You changed its diet
If it has always done it then it could still be the case that it likes the taste, that you inadvertently rewarded it or that it’s due to separation anxiety. However, it would also increase the likelihood of it being due to compulsive behavior.
When your dog licks your pillow
The timing of when it does it would also be something to consider. If it starts doing it at certain times then it could be that there is a cause for that.
If you notice that it starts licking it when you are about to leave then it would make it more likely to be due to separation anxiety. Whereas, if it does it when you haven’t given it attention then it might do it because it knows it will get attention from you.
How to get your dog to stop licking your pillow
There are a number of things that you can do about your licking your pillow. The best option for your dog will largely depend on the cause of it doing it.
Below, I will mention a number of things that you can do about it.
Avoid negative reinforcement
As mentioned above, it could be the case that you have inadvertently rewarded it for licking your pillow. Instead of giving it things that it wants, when it licks your pillow, it would help to avoid rewarding it and to follow the tips below instead.
Reduce its separation anxiety
Since it could be due to separation anxiety, it would help to train it to get used to being left without you by leaving it for longer and longer periods. It would be important to start out by leaving it for a very short period so that it does not get anxious and then to reward it for not being anxious each time you do it.
It’s important that you leave it for a period where it will not start to get anxious so that you can reward it for not being anxious. You might find that you will have to start by not even leaving the room and by simply making it seem like you are preparing to leave.
Give it other things to chew on
In addition to the other tips mentioned here, you could also give it other things to chew on such as bones and chews in order to take its focus away from the pillow.
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 pillow
- Tell it to leave it
- Reward it for not licking the pillow
- Take the pillow away whenever it tries to lick the pillow
- Repeat the above until it learns not to lick it
Make sure that its diet is right
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.
Reduce its access to your pillows
It would also help to reduce its access to your pillows when getting it to stop doing it. Perhaps you could close the door to the room when you are not around and get it to stay elsewhere in the house.
Why has my dog suddenly started licking my pillow?
If your dog has suddenly started licking your pillow, it could be because you have started sweating more at night, your dog has suddenly gotten a nutritional deficiency, you haven’t washed the pillow as often or because your dog has gotten more access to the pillow. It would help to consider what else has happened recently that might have caused the behavior to start.
Why does my dog lick my blankets?
Your dog might lick your blankets for any of the same reasons why your dog might lick your pillow. It would be most likely that your dog does it because your dog simply likes the taste especially if your dog does it before you have cleaned the blanket. However, it could also be due to things such as anxiety, PICA and a nutritional deficiency.