When you bring a puppy in your home, you may find it adorable when noticing its tendency to hold and suck the blanket. This habit won’t disappear in some cases, and even the adult dog can sometimes keep sucking it for years.
Believe it or not, you are not the only one who ask yourself – why does my dog suck on blankets. This bizarre tendency is not highly uncommon in dogs, especially in certain breeds. So, let’s make it clear why do some adult dogs do that.
The Root of the Behavior
Dogs of all breeds can keep sucking their blankets even in adulthood, but some breeds, including Spaniels, Dobermans, Daschunds, Border Collies, and Terriers, are more prone to this activity.
Most experts agree that such behavior is associated with the dog’s early age. This instinct occurs in puppies in the first few weeks of their lives. Before each nursing, they prepare themselves for food and connect sucking with comfort and safety.
Over time, the mom dog begins refusing the access its babies to milk. Unfortunately, unusual sounds and light may scare a puppy in some cases, and it will try to find lost pleasant feelings in sucking.
Since its mother doesn’t allow seeking consolation due to fear or anxiety in nursing, the pup will find an adequate replacement. Sucking the blanket is also common after adoption and separating the pup from its siblings. The soft blanket reminds it of the mother’s fur, and it will become emotionally attached to this smooth object.
Later, this habit becomes a necessity in a period of teething. Since it can be quite painful, your new baby will start chewing a comfy blanket for relief. Also, be prepared that the pup left alone at home for hours tends to chew its blanket to release stress. In such a case, you will probably hear whining and barking, as well.
Unlike kids, some dogs will keep sucking their blankets in older age or hold it in the mouth until falling asleep. However, they can use some other soft and cuddly things, including fur fabric and a soft toy. There are a few primary reasons for this phenomenon.
1. Your Dog Misses a Mom
Since this sucking habit originated in the earliest weeks while they were puppies, many experts connect this behavior with nostalgia. Your dog probably longs for its mother and the nursing period that meant safety and comfort.
That time spent with its mom is essential for your puppy’s emotional well-being. If it was abandoned or you took it from a litter too early, it looked for consolation in something warm and comfy such as a blanket.
Rescue dogs often tend to suck the favorite blanket since they have changed many homes as puppies. Unfortunately, these animals didn’t have an opportunity to connect with their moms and needed to find replacement comfort elsewhere.
2. It is a Comforting Activity
Once mom dog stops nursing its grown puppies, it doesn’t always mean a definitive end. It can sometimes make an exception when feeling that a puppy is anxious due to a lack of closeness.
It will let its stressed-out puppy through the nursing motions (so-called comfort suckles) even though there is no milk anymore. It is its way to help a baby to soothe itself. It is not a long-term process but can help as a developmental stage of pup’s growth.
In most cases, puppies that had the opportunity to comfort suckle rarely use the blanket to suck in later life periods.
3. It is Comfortable
Sometimes, your dog can start holding and sucking the blanket to get the necessary comfort when it is tired. In most cases, it will find the replacement object to suck if you take its blanket away.
You can remove everything soft away from your furry friend, and it will accept reality. However, be sure that it will look for something suitable to keep with this, often irritating, activity.
Therefore, it is maybe a better idea to let your dog enjoy its blanket and wash it from time to time to keep it clean.
4. It Smells Familiar
The scent plays a significant role in this behavior. Your dog will choose a blanket that smells of you or other family members. That will provide a comfort zone for a lonely and fearful animal when you are not at home.
Sensitive, gentle, and sweet-natured characters will display this behavior more often. They will suck their blankets when feeling lonely.
5. It is not an Obsession
Don’t worry about sucking a blanket and never confuse this with obsessive behaviors. For example, flank-sucking in Dobermans is disturbing since you can see how often the dog repeats this action. Plus, it can hurt itself and physically damage the skin. It is not the same as a harmless sucking a blanket when feeling anxious.
How to React?
Most owners believe that their dogs do something wrong if they suck their blankets. On the contrary, this activity is natural and entirely harmless. So, what should you do in such a situation?
Since your dog sucks its blanket to feel safe and relaxed, there is no reason to forbid this activity unless it tries to hurt itself. However, there is also no need to encourage such behavior.
Offer your dog a desired emotional support, and it will likely leave this habit on its own. Some dogs will stop sucking when you take the blanket away. Others will find a substitute. There is no rule carved in stone.
If you hate this habit, try to give your dog an adequate replacement for chewing. That means you should remove all soft toys, clothing, and pillows and replace them with rubber and plastic chew toys. Also, offer it some delicious treats to redirect its attention. Don’t forget to purchase a chew toy to alleviate the unpleasant period of teething.
Another option is to buy a chew deterrent containing bitter apple or cherry aroma and spray the blanket. It will probably prevent your dog from this annoying habit. Otherwise, please consult your vet, provide enough exercise to your pet, and play with it.