Why Does My Dog SUCK On Blankets? (Weird Explained)
When your dog is feeling its most relaxed, you may have noticed it sucking on a favorite sheet or chew toy as if nursing. This confusing behavior has many owners asking their vet: why does my dog suck on blankets?
If your dog is sucking on blankets, clothes, or toys, it’s usually not a cause for concern. Plenty of dogs show suckling behaviors well into adulthood when seeking out comfort. Even so, it’s always good to understand normal pet behavior so that you know how to spot potential health problems if they arise.
Here, I’m going to discuss why dogs suck on blankets and when to see a vet about the issue. I’ll also cover tips and tricks you can use to discourage your dog from sucking on your linens.
Why Does My Dog Suck On Blankets?
Sucking on blankets isn’t a breed-specific issue, nor is it limited to a certain age group. There don’t appear to be any definitive ways to predict the behavior, which leaves many people asking: why does my dog suck on blankets?
There are a couple of common reasons you might see suckling behavior in dogs and puppies. While most underlying causes aren’t concerning, some may require a consultation with your vet.
In many cases, sucking on blankets is a sign that a puppy was separated from its mother too early. Puppies shouldn’t leave the nest until at least eight to ten weeks at the earliest.
Young puppies suckle not only for nourishment but also for comfort. If they don’t have a nipple available, they will often develop self-soothing behaviors such as sucking on toys and blankets.
Puppies rejected by their mothers may also form blanket-sucking behaviors that persist into adulthood. Litter runts frequently show suckling behaviors due to early rejection.
If your pup was bottle-fed, they may associate pillows and blankets with the act of nursing. Some bottle-fed dogs will continue to suckle on their childhood nursing blanket until they reach old age.
Some puppies may suck on blankets to offset the pain from teething. In these cases, blanket-sucking behaviors are often temporary and stop once teething is complete.
Puppies can begin teething as early as three weeks and typically have their first set of teeth by six weeks. Like us, they lose their baby teeth at a slightly later age. For most dogs, permanent teeth begin to grow in around twelve weeks and are complete by six months.
Puppies will chew on just about anything to ease the pain that comes along with both their first and second round of teething. While they may prefer chewing on something hard to combat discomfort, sucking on blankets helps them to relax during bedtime and naptime.
Dogs prone to anxiety may turn to self-soothing behaviors such as blanket sucking. Laying down and nursing on their favorite blanket can help your dog to lower its stress levels and calm its nerves.
If your dog experiences separation anxiety, it may suck on blankets or pieces of clothing that smell like you. The scent helps to calm your dog so it copes better with your absence. Suckling can take the place of more loud or destructive anxiety-based behaviors.
If your dog is sucking on blankets due to anxiety, you should take steps to address the root cause of the issue. Otherwise, the stress may lead to more serious complications down the line.
You can work with your pup on addressing and removing stressors from their environment, or you can speak with your vet about medical and therapeutic options.
Canine Compulsive Disorder
In some cases, blanket sucking may be a compulsive behavior. Dogs with canine compulsive disorder often get fixated on behaviors such as sucking on blankets, toys, or even their flank.
If you allow compulsive behavior to continue unchecked, your dog may end up harming itself. You should schedule a trip to your vet if you think that your dog is showing signs of potentially dangerous compulsive behavior.
Is Sucking On Blankets Healthy?
In most cases, sucking on blankets won’t bring any harm to your pet. As long as they are not ingesting any strings or fibers, you can leave your pet to self-soothe by suckling.
However, if you notice signs of excessive or compulsive sucking, you should take steps to intervene. Otherwise, your pet may end up harming itself.
How To Discourage Sucking?
If you want to stop your dog from suckling on blankets, there are a couple of tricks you can try to discourage the behavior in both puppies and adults.
Keep Puppies With Their Mothers
While it might not always be possible to keep a puppy with its mother, it’s always best to allow them to spend as much time as possible together. The longer a puppy spends with its mother, the less chance it has of developing self-soothing behaviors such as suckling.
It’s always best to keep puppies with their mothers up to the eight-week mark. You can even allow them to stay for longer, though it’s best not to miss the socialization window.
Mothers will naturally begin to wean their puppies at around three to four weeks, and owners can help the process by providing milk replacements and solid foods.
If your dog is sucking blankets as a coping mechanism, you may be able to use toys, treats, and attention as a distraction. When you notice your pup showing signs of stress, offer them something that will calm their nerves.
Using distractions will not only discourage unwanted self-soothing behaviors such as suckling but also help relieve chronic stress. If you take steps to reduce anxiety before it sets in, you can help your dog to lead a happier, calmer lifestyle.
Create a Training Command
Trainable dogs may be able to learn a command to stop sucking when you see it happening. When you notice your dog sucking on blankets, use your command prompt and reward your pup for stopping.
With positive reinforcement, your dog will eventually stop any unwanted behavior voluntarily. You can train adults and puppies alike to stop sucking on blankets with patience and persistence.
Remove Preferred Blankets
Sometimes, the only thing you can do to discourage a behavior is to remove the trigger. If nothing else works, removing your dog’s favorite blankets from the area might be enough to discourage suckling.
If your dog isn’t picky about which linens it sucks on, try using a scented deterrent. Dogs don’t like the smell of citrus, chili pepper, or coffee grounds. Spritzing nearby blankets with these scents may help to deter your dog from sucking on clothes, blankets, and more.
If you’ve noticed your dog nursing on blankets and linens, you may be wondering: why does my dog suck on blankets?
In most cases, blanket sucking is a self-soothing behavior that helps your dog to relax when it’s feeling anxious, stressed, or just plain sleepy. It’s a perfectly natural behavior and should be no cause for alarm.
Still, many owners choose to discourage blanket sucking in healthy dogs to avoid it turning into compulsive behavior. If you want to stop your dog from ruining your favorite linens, there are plenty of tricks you can try to keep your dog from sucking on blankets.