Dogs may be repeatedly licking their blanket because they’re nervous.
In this article, we’re going to talk about all the different reasons, but most of the time it is behavioral.
Dogs aren't’ born with this inherent anxiety; it’s a learned behavior, and just like any learned behavior, it can be undone or redirected.
Dog licking blanket issues have several causes, and we’re going to go over as many as possible to clear the air and help you get your dog to stop. It’s not a one-day fix; this may take weeks to correct, but it will be worth it.
What Tends to Cause Excessive Licking in Dogs?
Most of the time, you can correct this odd behavior just by figuring out what your dog is currently facing, and connect the dots accordingly.
We’ll go over the four main issues that you’re likely to run into, from most probable to rare in descending order.
Your dog is being feisty because they don’t want to adhere to the new leash you bought, or you just moved homes and they don’t like the backyard as much.
Yeah, dogs can get testy, they just don’t show it in obvious ways.
Environmental issues could be causing behavioral problems, so if you notice something around the house that really sets your dog off, consider removing it or transferring it to somewhere else in the home.
But sometimes it’s not that. Sometimes they just don’t listen when you tell them not to do something, and that usually comes down to having zero behavior training.
You may not come across as the alpha of the house, and a dog trainer’s assistance could be the cure that you need to get them to stop licking their blanket.
At the very least, explore this option. Bring them to a dog trainer and see what they have to say.
List your concerns, and talk about what you want to see change. They’ll be able to assess your dog after a brief afternoon with them, and with training, it may be enough to correct their behavior.
Another underlying issue could be medically-related complications. The problem is… blanket licking doesn’t give any indication of what the specific problem is whatsoever, but it does act like an alarm to let you know that something could be wrong.
Dogs release endorphins when they lick things, which is why when they get excited after seeing you come home from work, they tend to lick your face or excessively lick their nose. They’re excited and they want to release those feel-good endorphins along with that emotion.
You should take your dog to their veterinarians office when excessive blanket licking becomes an issue.
That way, you’ll be able to either have peace of mind knowing they’re healthy while you search for another cause of this newfound behavior, or you’ll know that you caught something early and your vet can prescribe a treatment. Either way, you’re advocating for your dog just as you should be.
If your dog is feeling nauseous, they could simply be licking their blanket, or the side of the couch, or whatever cloth is in front of them as a way to keep themselves busy.
If you think you hate throwing up, just watch how upset a dog gets after they upchuck; it makes them hang their heads down because they associate it with “going” in the house.
They may be licking to keep themselves busy and reduce excessive saliva. This is more instinctual than anything else, but if they’re experiencing frequent nausea, you might have to change their diet out a little bit to give them a helping hand here.
If your dog rolls around on their blanket, they might be trying to itch their back or other areas of their skin. If they lick their blanket and then do this, it could be to provide additional traction when they rub their skin against cloth surfaces.
They can lick their blankets and then roll around in them, but you might also notice wet spots on the sides of the couch (usually where wood is structuring a cloth-covered area).
They’ll lick this area then scratch up against it. Talk to your vet about potential skin allergies and get them tested as soon as possible.
Why Do Dogs Specifically Lick Their Blankets?
The same reason that children cling to a blanket or stuffed animal: security.
Your dog can feel secure from a blanket, and use it as an outlet for their anxiety because they know that you don’t want them chewing on the furniture.
They still associate any training or behavior corrections you’ve made for them, but their instincts are still begging for them to lick on or chew something.
What Can be Done to Prevent or Stop it?
Most of the time it’s behavior-based or anxiety-based, so those would be good places to start looking for a solution.
We have a quick list of things you can do to help reduce their anxiety and behavioral issues.
When you see the behavior, correct it on the spot. This is the same thing you’re expected to do when they start to “go” in the house, chew up your boots, or anything else that you don’t want them doing.
In their eyes, you’re the master of the house, and they want to be loyal to you. Kindly redirect them to a solution that we’ve listed in the sections below.
Try to Socialize More
Dogs are social creatures, and they need to mingle with their canine kind. Some socialization at the dog park could be all they need to get their anxiety troubles to vanish, although don’t expect it to be immediate.
Make regular dates to either go to a dog park, or visit a friend who has a dog and let the two of them play together. Socialization helps reduce anxiety in humans, and the same goes for dogs.
Keep an Eye on the Dogs Diet
Your dog’s diet could be affecting their anxiety, and making them chew on blankets and couch cushions. Just like with humans, what we eat affects our moods, our behaviors, and everything in between.
This could be because of a food allergy, or additives that just aren’t good for your dog’s wellbeing.
Anxiety and stress go hand in hand, except stress is a series of physical triggers. Licking and chewing are how dogs cope with it, so consider switching to a cleaner dog food to keep the additives out of the mix.
Reduce His Access to the Blanket
If everything else fails, reduce blanket access. This seems cruel at first, but you aren’t taking it away; you’re just bringing it out when you can supervise.
Just like we talked about earlier, you have to correct their behavior when they begin chewing on the blanket in the first place. Doing this and being present when they go to nervously chew could be all they need to realize that this isn’t an acceptable behavior.
Try to Channel the Excessive Licking onto Safer Objects
If your dog just won’t give up excessive licking, then there’s only so much you can do.
You have to guide them into better behavior; you can’t force it. That being said, you’ll have to switch out their blanket for something else.
You can correct their behavior by finding something that they can lick that won’t either ruin your furniture, or have them ingesting particles of fiber along with dirt and germs. Some safe alternatives are:
- Chew Toy: It seems simple, but when you throw them a bone, they chew on it. That chewing can replace anxiety-related licking entirely. This is a safe outlet you can feel good about.
- Chewing Mat: These can get pretty gnarly quickly, but they serve their function (and usually come in multipacks for this exact reason). Chewing mats are a newer solution, but they give your dog an outlet instead of their blanket or the couch.
- Chewy Dog Treats: There’s nothing that says “Don’t be worried, everything is okay” like a tasty treat. This could not only help get your dog’s mind off of whatever was causing them anxiety, but reassure your love for them while giving them something to keep those teeth busy.
And as always, consider talking to their vet about getting on anti-anxiety medication. You may not be able to fix the problem with in-home changes, and that’s okay.
The important thing is getting your dog the help they need so that they can feel better.
Changing Your Dog’s Habits
It all starts with examining behavioral problems and starting there.
More often than that, dogs fall into this like a nervous habit similar to a human biting their nails or constantly clicking a pen. It’s okay to do, just not all the time.
Remember that your dog is testing the world around them, and licking something is the easiest way for them to understand a new object or area. When it gets excessive, swap out this behavior for something rewarding and beneficial.