Dogs are not equipped to do most of the nervous actions humans have, like biting nails or drumming their fingers. So they sometimes lick a lot. But that’s not the only reason for licking.
Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets And Furniture?
When and what your dog licks can indicate why he does this and what he feels. He can be hungry, sad, sick, happy, or nervous. When your dog excessively licks blankets, furniture, carpets, and beds.
Dogs have been given tongues to lick things. If you have an affectionate dog, licking would be something they do quite often.
Sometimes, you find a damp patch on your sofa, indicating that your dog probably has been licking the furniture in your absence. While he gives you an innocent expression on his face, you may wonder why he did that!
Although licking is part of a dog’s charm, the excessive and unusual licking becomes a concern and a sign of an underlying problem. This may indicate a medical or behavioral reason.
The behavioral reasons for dogs licking or grooming themselves, furniture or other surfaces are usually more common than having medical reasons. Dogs may start the habit of licking because they like the salty taste of their owner’s skin or the blanket’s taste, which is a sign of affection or out of habit or boredom.
My dog Mayla grooms herself to the couch after she has eaten to clean her face.
If your dog is left alone in the house and starts to get bored with his toys, he may try to occupy his time until you (his favorite person) return home.
The texture of whatever he is licking might remind him of licking your skin and might give him comfort in your absence. If this happens excessively, it might be a sign of stress or anxiety.
The sensation of licking soft fabric might help the dog to cope and relieve his feelings by keeping himself occupied. Of course, this might be a good feeling for him, but not good for your soft furnishing.
The possibility of your dog having sniffed out some microscopic food particles ingrained in the fabric is always there. These food particles could be anything. The dog could find the scent irresistible; however, he is unable to trace its source, so he would lick away at the furniture, hoping to find whatever tasty had left its mark there.
This licking behavior can also be calming or soothing, just like humans sometimes receive a relaxing massage to calm down.
We can sum up the complete list of behavioral problems in:
- Boredom and/or anxiety
- To calm or soothe
- Showing affection for the blanket/sofa they are licking (like sitting on their favorite couch)
- Like the taste
- Separation Anxiety
To stop this excessive behavior, you can simply redirect your dog’s focus by providing an alternative activity to keep him busy. You can also try “Positive Reinforcement training” by rewarding the dog when he stops licking at your command.
Be aware that you have to stop this behavior because this pure licking can sometimes change into biting or tearing your blankets.
As your dog naturally explores things using his sense of smell and taste, compulsive and obsessive licks for carpets, blankets, couches, and furniture may be an indication of a serious health condition.
The behavior of excessive licking, spots, skin irritation, or hair loss could be a sign of allergies that may have caused the skin or paws to itch.
Additionally, some bacterial and fungus infections may cause itchiness, which would lead to excessive licking. This is quite similar to a person who tends to rub a sore muscle or joint. The licking releases endorphins, which is the body’s natural pain- killer that helps to soothe the pain.
Another medical reason for your dog is licking strange surfaces (not himself) is from gastrointestinal problems. The dog may find relief to these problems through licking unusual surfaces. Accordingly, consulting your vet will be required to diagnose and get the suitable treatment for your dog’s condition.
Another reason is being uncomfortable. For example, my dog licks the bed before sleeping to make it a more comfortable place for her to sleep.
However, the most common problem that I usually face is a dog, which lacks essential minerals.
Walls, colors, wooden furniture, and even pillows might contain essential minerals that the dog is lacking. That’s why you might find that giving your dog some vitamins can terminate this strange licking behavior. Those are the anemic dogs or dogs with cancer.
The dog can start licking at household furnishings when he has vitamin or mineral deficiencies. By instinct, the dog will try to compensate his intake by any available means.
Alternatively, consuming weird and unusual things is a dog’s way of curing him of abdominal pain and feeling generally unwell. He may even chew on grass if he gets the chance.
Licking blankets specifically and not furniture is quite different.
This would probably start when something happens that would cause distress to your dog. For example, when you are about to leave the house or loud voices outside the home.
Think about what happened when it first started. Maybe you began spending more extended periods outside the house, leaving your long alone for a longer time, causing anxiety.
Monitor the timing of when your dog tends to lick the blanket; the timing may have something to do with the reason why. If your dog tends to do it more when you’re not home, most likely it is due to separation anxiety.
Your dog would lick the blankets that you use since he will have a strong scent of you on them. The dog smells your scent on the blankets, which makes him feel calmer.
Alternatively, maybe drink, or food has got stuck to the blanket, or unintentionally rewarding your dog when he does this behavior.
Therefore, the best thing is to limit his separation anxiety by exercising and feeding the dog before leaving him alone. He would be sleeping most of the time while you are away.
The dog may like the salty taste of your sweat or dead skin cells on the blanket. If he seems to be doing this due to the taste’s liking, this would be a sign of having something wrong with his diet. Most probably, the dog would start doing this after a change in his diet.
- Compulsive behavior:
An obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), dogs can get these conditions just like humans.
Most likely, your dog will be having difficulty to stop licking at your command. He would have an irresistible urge to lick blankets. If this has been happening for a while, your dog would be under-stimulated, under-socialized, or experiencing stress and anxiety.
Accordingly, the best thing is to seek your vet’s help.
Considering how often does your dog lick the blankets will also give you an indication if this is a compulsive behavior or not. Suppose you are ready with answers to all these questions. In that case, you will help your vet or dog behaviorist figure out the suitable treatment options.
- Inadvertently encouraging the behavior:
Another possible reason for your dog excessive licking your blanket could be your inadvertently training your dog to do so. If you tend to give your dog the things he wants, such as treats, toys, or even attention when he licks your blanket.
You’re unintentionally encouraging your dog to continue with this weird behavior. Instead, you can reward your dog when he doesn’t lick your blankets and after he stops doing it at your command. Also, you can try to redirect his attention when he starts doing it.
What Should You Do About Unwanted Licking?
- Discourage this behavior:
You may consider your dog is licking the furniture a good thing, as it keeps your furniture lint-free and clean. However, this behavior is not good for your dog.
His licking items that shouldn’t be licked, such as the sofa, means that he will pick up and swallow all kinds of stuff that shouldn’t be swallowed.
Your dog will be ingesting fibers from the fabric, your hair, as well as his own, in addition to dust particles and other dirt and debris that may lead him to get an intestinal blockage.
Accordingly, it is recommended to discourage this behavior once you notice it. After paying a visit to your vet, and your dog is declared to be in perfect health. Think about signing him up for some training sessions with a professional trainer. This will keep your dog occupied and help you develop the skills to deal with your dog’s bad habits.
- Increase stimulation and socialization:
Little stimulation and socialization is the most probable explanation for your dog’s licking behavior.
Give your dog more time to exercise and play; you can even get him some new toys, take him to the park more often, or enroll him in doggy daycare.
Find ways to stimulate and socialize your dog more. If loneliness and boredom were causing his compulsive licking behavior, it should quickly fade away with these sorts of remedies.
- Ensure that your dog has the right diet:
Consulting your vet about your dog’s proper diet will be very useful to overcome his licking behavior.
- Reduce the dog’s access to your blankets:
You can try to make it difficult for your dog to reach your blankets so that it would be less likely to lick it. Additionally, you can always apply a harmless but unpleasant-smelling dog repellent to your sofa, bed, and carpet. A little ammonia, vinegar, citrus, or cayenne pepper scent often does the trick.
- Provide your dog with other things to lick:
Your dog will be distracted from licking your blanket if you provide him with other items that he can lick, such as toys or puzzle games or bones.
To have your dog excessively licking your furniture, blankets, or soft furnishing means that something is not right somewhere.
It would be best if you prevented this habit the sooner, the better. Start with your vet’s consultation to make sure no medical reasons are involved. Then you may carry on other steps and consider what your dog might be missing.
Dogs’ weird behavior are often messages to their owners that they miss or need something.