Have you ever noticed your dog sucking on a blanket? This behaviour can remind you of a toddler sucking on a pacifier or even their thumb. When a human child does this, it’s thought to be cute, and they tend to grow out of this habit. However, it’s always strange to notice your furry friend sucking on a blanket, and dogs seldom grow out of this habit. You can’t help but wonder why do dogs suck on blankets? And whether you should be concerned about this behavior?
This quirky behavior shouldn’t be worrying. As far as what has been researched and known, this behavior is typical in dogs, more so in some than others. Puppies develop this habit when young, and some carry it into adulthood. Despite this behavior being normal, it can still be puzzling for us. This article will do a little deep dive into canine psychology and behavior to help make sense of this weird but cute habit.
The need for comfort and warmth is something we can all relate to, so it makes sense when some dogs seek these feelings, especially when you see the reasons listed above. But why is it that blankets become one of the most endeared objects?
Let’s go back to when puppies first develop this habit. Puppies are born with the instinct to suckle their mom for nourishment. While the puppy nurses, it also experiences feelings of safety, comfort and warmth. Even after the mommy dog weans her puppies, some still occasionally suckle, especially when nervous about their surroundings.
Some animal behaviorists believe that some dogs do not grow out of this habit of suckling and resort to sucking on blankets because they have been deprived of the opportunity to experience comfort suckling when they are puppies. There are several reasons why this could happen.
- The mother dog didn’t allow the puppy to nurse for an extended period
- The mother dog was unwell so could not nurse the puppies
- The puppies were separated from the mom too early (It’s very important to make sure that puppies are not separated from their mother before at least eight weeks; otherwise, the puppy might end up having emotional issues and be prone to anxiety)
Like us, dogs can also suffer from anxiety. Whether it’s loud noises, particular people or unfamiliar social settings, there can be something triggering for your little friend. And when your dog is faced with these triggers, it tries to self soothe using things like a blanket to suck on. If you notice your dog engaging in this behavior when it’s distressed, it is safe to say that it might be suffering from anxiety. It is important to be aware of the triggers that can agitate your dog; it can not only help with addressing situations like sucking on blankets (which is not harmful to a certain extent) but also help your furry friend out of uncomfortable situations that can hinder them from living their life fully.
Smell and Taste:
If you’ve ever gotten a puppy, they sometimes come with a blanket. The blanket smells familiar to them, especially when moved to an unfamiliar setting. Many professionals advise you to keep such objects with your puppy when transporting them or taking them to new places or families.
If your dog is constantly running around with his blanket, it’s safe to say that this blanket has accumulated many different things, from sweat to various scents. This creates a unique taste to which your pooch might be drawn. You can test whether this is the case by washing the blanket and seeing if your dog still sucks on it or not.
Blankets are also soft, and you must notice your dog kneading their blanket and finding a spot to sleep on and eventually suck on. The softness is reminiscent of their mother and can be soothing for them. Some dog breeds engage in what is known as “flank sucking”. Flank sucking is when they suck on themselves rather than on blankets or plush toys. This can hurt themselves, whereas your dog sucking on a blanket does no harm.
If you feel that your puppy suddenly developed the habit of sucking on their blanket out of nowhere, it could mean they are teething. Teething can be incredibly uncomfortable, so your puppy will resort to chewing and sucking on soft objects to alleviate the discomfort. Your puppy will most likely outgrow this habit if this is the case.
You might fear that this habit might become compulsive, and it does in a few rare cases. This obsessive behavior might be signaling a deeper physical problem like pica (which is also common in human babies). The component of pica prevalent in dogs is eating inedible things; this can result from nutrient deficiencies. If you suspect that this might be the case for your pup, it’s best to consult the vet.
At the end of the day, as long as your puppy is happy and healthy, sucking on a blanket is not something to be too concerned about. There are plenty of other behaviours you will face that might need more concern.