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As far as quirks go, your dog sucking on a blanket is not exactly alarming. But, it’s still important to understand why your pooch may have this tendency.
You may find it quite normal and even adorable for your puppy to suck on their blanket. However, this habit is one that puppies may not outgrow with age. It is not unusual to find adult dogs that still suck on their blankets.
So why exactly does your dog suck on blankets?
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Are some breeds more prone to this habit than others?
And, is there anything you can do to stop it?
If you have wondered about these questions, here is everything you need to know about why dogs suck on blankets.
Reasons For Your Dog’s Sucking Behavior
If your dog’s tendency to suck on blankets has you baffled, let’s explore just how this happens. Here are some common reasons why dogs develop this habit.
Missing Their Mom
In some cases, sucking on a blanket is your dog’s way of seeking the comfort they would get from nursing.
Puppies are born with the natural instinct to suckle. Suckling for puppies during the early stages of life is not just for their nourishment—when puppies nurse, they also derive comfort and a sense of safety from the suckling.
Once puppies are weaned, they may not outgrow the need for comfort suckling. When this happens, they are likely to resort to sucking on their blanket or other soft objects.
This sucking gives them the same feeling nursing would and becomes an entrenched behavior.
If your pup was separated from her mom too early, they may develop sucking behavior as a self-soothing mechanism. This may also happen when the mother refuses to let her puppies comfort suckle.
If you adopted your fur-baby young and bottle-fed them, this may be another reason they develop a tendency to suck on their blankets.
This is because bottle feeding does not offer the same comfort as suckling would. In such cases, your pup may suck on their blanket to indulge their natural instinct to suckle.
Dogs, just like humans, suffer from anxiety from time to time. Whether it’s loud noises, crowds, or even particular people, there are things that will trigger your dog’s anxiety.
When your dog is distressed, it is natural for them to try and self-soothe and this can lead to sucking on blankets.
If you notice that your dog sucks on their blanket when they are distressed or agitated, their sucking behavior could be due to anxiety.
Sucking behavior can be your dog’s way of self-soothing. In such cases, you will notice that your dog tends to suck on their blanket when they are distressed or agitated.
For instance, dogs with separation anxiety may suck on their blankets when left on their own. In other cases, you may notice that your dog does this when around other pets or certain people.
Dogs self-soothe in a variety of ways, and sucking on objects is one of them. When sucking behavior develops as a coping mechanism for anxiety, it is important to understand the situations that trigger your pup’s anxiety.
If you can find the cause of the anxiety, it will make it easier to address the sucking behavior.
Teething can be uncomfortable for your pooch, and they will often resort to sucking on soft objects. If your puppy just started sucking on their blanket suddenly, it could be due to teething.
When sucking behavior is caused by teething pains, your pup will also chew and gnaw at different items. In such cases, the sucking tendency will stop once your puppy is done teething.
You can also provide your pup with chewy toys to keep them from sucking on their blankets. The toys will help with the teething discomfort and keep your pup occupied.
The Scent Of The Blanket
Your pup may suck on their blanket if it reminds them of their favorite human. Dogs find scents comforting, especially when they associate the particular scent with you or someone else they like.
Dogs that are prone to separation anxiety, for instance, may find comfort in sucking on a blanket that reminds them of their owner. In such a case, your pup derives comfort from the blanket because it makes them feel close to you.
The Taste Of The Blanket
Have you noticed that your dog sucks on their blanket when it is dirty but has no interest in it once it is cleaned? If your pup does this, it could be that they simply like the taste of the blanket.
Sweat, skin cells, and scents accumulate in doggie blankets the more they are used. This gives the blanket a unique taste that your pup may find appealing.
This results in your dog frequently sucking on the blanket because they enjoy the flavor.
A simple way to establish if your dog sucks their blanket because of the taste is to simply clean it. If your dog shows no interest in the clean blanket, they were probably drawn to it by the taste or smell of it.
Canine Compulsive Disorder
Researchers have found that dogs can also suffer from compulsive disorders. In such cases, your dog may repeat certain behaviors such as grooming, flank chasing, and in some cases sucking behavior.
Canine compulsive disorder has been linked to genetics. This means that certain dog breeds are more susceptible than others to compulsive behaviors that may include sucking on blankets.
If you suspect your pup has a compulsive disorder, it is best to consult your vet. Compulsive disorders, when left unchecked, can become harmful and may lead to self-injury.
Is Sucking On A Blanket A Breed Issue?
It is natural for a pet parent to wonder whether sucking behavior is more prevalent in some dog breeds. Sucking on blankets is not a breed issue, however, and there is no link found between breed and sucking tendencies.
Sucking is common across different breeds and, in most cases, this tendency is a self-soothing mechanism. Any dog, regardless of breed or age, can develop sucking behavior.
Breeds such as Doberman Pinschers and dachshunds are prone to flank sucking, but this behavior is not the same as sucking on a blanket.
Flank sucking is when the dog sucks on parts of its body, especially when anxious or agitated. This behavior may cause actual harm and is not the same as a dog sucking on a blanket or toy.
Dog Sucking On Its Blanket; What Can You Do About It?
In most cases, sucking behavior is harmless and will not endanger your pup. However, if you find the behavior a little annoying or bizarre, here are some tips to help minimize your pup’s habit.
Keep The Puppy With Its Mom As Long As Possible
Blanket sucking starts as an alternative to suckling. When your pup is weaned too early, they will still feel the need to comfort suckle.
This urge will drive them to suck on soft objects such as blankets, to replace the feeling of nursing or suckling. To avoid this, you can keep your puppy with its mom for as long as possible.
It is important to note that in some cases such as adoption, you may have no control over how long your puppy is weaned.
Replace The Blanket
The scent or taste of your dog’s blanket may be what your pooch is attached to. Dogs are especially sensitive to scent, and they may derive a certain sense of comfort from a particular scent or taste.
If you notice that your dog only sucks on a particular blanket, you can try replacing it or removing it.
In some cases, this may help curb the habit. However, you may find that your dog simply switches to a different item, such as a toy, to suck on.
Distract Your Dog
Dogs, just like humans, do get bored, and this can lead to coping behaviors like sucking. Making sure that your dog gets plenty of playtime and exercise may help with minimizing this behavior.
Toys are also a great way to help your pooch stay occupied and distracted. If your pup tends to suck on their blanket a lot, distract them with toys or play. Physical activity can help to minimize sucking tendencies by providing a distraction.
Dogs with lots of pent up energy are more likely to develop destructive behavior. Always ensure that your dog gets sufficient daily exercise to expend their energy.
Spending time with your dog is also important if you want to keep them engaged. Separation anxiety may cause your dog to suck on their blankets. Make sure that your pup is not spending too much time alone.
Identify The Triggers
Dogs sometimes self-soothe by sucking on their blanket or other objects. While this behavior is generally not harmful, eliminating anxiety triggers can help to discourage it.
For instance, when your dog is distressed or agitated, they are more likely to look for ways to self-soothe. Identifying what sets off your dog’s anxiety is one way to minimize sucking tendencies.
Training your dog to cope with stressful situations can help minimize the emotional impact of anxiety on your pup. You can also seek professional training if your dog has especially high anxiety levels. Training can help our pup cope better in stressful situations.
Discourage The Behavior
Giving your dog treats and praise when they stop sucking can help to minimize the behavior. Just like any other doggie behavior, reinforce the positive and discourage the negative tendencies.
When you find your pooch sucking on their blanket, try “talking them out of it.” Have some treats handy to offer your pup when it stops sucking and praise them to show approval when they stop.
Do not be too forceful when trying to discourage sucking behavior. If you make your dog more anxious, you may actually end up causing them to suck on the blanket even more. Be firm but use a gentle, non-threatening tone.
While it may not eliminate the behavior altogether, training your pup lets your dog know what behavior is acceptable and what is not.
Consult Your Vet
Sucking behavior is, for the most part, harmless until it starts to become compulsive. If you notice that your dog spends too much time sucking on their blanket or other items, consult your vet.
Canine compulsive disorder is quite rare, but when it presents, compulsive sucking is one of the symptoms. In such cases, you will need to consult your vet for a diagnosis and medication as required.
When sucking becomes compulsive, your dog may suck on objects that are potentially harmful. Always observe your dog’s behavior for signs of compulsive tendencies. Behavior becomes compulsive when your pup cannot seem to stop doing it for hours on end.
Breeds such as Dobermans and Dachshunds are especially susceptible to compulsive disorders. Your vet can recommend appropriate treatment if you suspect that your pup’s sucking behavior is becoming compulsive.
Some dogs find sucking on objects soothing. You may even notice that your pup likes to suck on their blanket at bedtime. As long as your pooch is happy and healthy, there is no need to worry about this tendency.
However, it is important to ensure that your dog is not harmed by this behavior. This means taking some simple safety precautions to ensure that sucking tendencies do not harm your fur baby.
Keep The Blanket Clean
Doggie blankets can pick up a lot of germs and dirt. If your pup keeps sucking on a dirty blanket, it may lead to infections.
Keep your doggie blankets clean by washing them regularly. In some instances, you may even find that a clean doggie blanket may help to discourage the sucking behavior.
Beware Of Choking Hazards
Sucking behavior is not just restricted to blankets. Some dogs will suck on anything soft including stuffed toys. This can pose a choking hazard for your pup.
Make sure that your doggie blanket does not have any buttons or loose fabric that they might choke on. This also goes for stuffed toys. Buttons, beads, and other objects are choking hazards that can cause your dog harm.
A dog can easily swallow something harmful when sucking on objects. Pups that swallow non-food items can develop intestinal blockages or ingest something toxic.
Always check your dog’s toys for potential hazards and remove any toys that could cause harm.
Should You Stop Your Dog From Sucking On Blankets?
Whether you find it quirky, adorable, or a little nutty, sucking behavior is perfectly natural and harmless.
Your dog may find comfort and a sense of safety from sucking on their blanket. If you stop them from doing it, it may cause anxiety.
It’s important to remember that sucking behavior starts at an early age and is tied to your dog’s emotional state.
Pups that were weaned too early or bottle-fed can be especially prone to sucking behavior. Stopping them from sucking may interfere with their sense of safety and comfort.
You should not feel compelled to stop your dog from sucking if it does not bother you. Let your pup self-soothe when they need to.
As long as you keep the safety considerations mentioned above in mind, your pup will be just fine.
Dog Sucking On Blanket: Should You Worry?
It is natural to worry about the well-being of your dog when you notice behavior such as sucking. However, such behavior does not always have to do with your dog’s care or environment.
Tendencies such as sucking on blankets become entrenched in the puppy stage and last well into adulthood.
As long as your pup is well taken care of in terms of nutrition, health, and overall well-being, you should not fret. Dogs sometimes develop tendencies that you as a pet parent may not always be able to break.
Your pup sucking on blankets is not as destructive as habits like chewing on furniture or nipping.
In some cases, you may be tempted to take the blankets away, but your pup will simply switch to sucking other things like toys.
As a pet parent, there are plenty of doggie habits you will have to contend with. Fortunately, your dog sucking on blankets is no reason to get alarmed.
Your pooch needs to self-soothe from time to time, and this is completely natural and harmless. Just be sure that your pup stays safe by ensuring they don’t ingest anything toxic.
Discouraging sucking behavior through training may help minimize sucking tendencies.
However, if it does not bother you or harm your pooch, let your pup indulge their natural instinct to suckle.
Does your dog suck on his blanket? If so, is there anything you do to get him to stop?
Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
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