Your dog is most likely licking your bed sheets to relieve stress. For most dogs, licking is therapeutic (similar to a human squeezing a stress ball). Your dog may also simply like the taste of your bed sheets. This is especially true if you eat in bed.
Does your furry companion lick your bed sheets? I would be annoyed too if I always came home to a wet spot on my bed sheets from my dog’s drool! The good news is it’s usually not necessarily an issue unless your dog is doing it relentlessly or if it is becoming an annoyance.
So why do dogs lick bed sheets? And more importantly, how can you put an end to it?
Why Dogs Lick Bed Sheets
There are several reasons your dog may lick your bed sheets. It is crucial to figure out the cause of your dog’s behavior before you can correct it.
Here are the four most common reasons your dog is licking your sheets.
Relaxation and Stress Relief
Licking is therapeutic for most dogs. When dogs are stressed, you’ll often find them licking any object nearby.
So what could cause your dog stress? Are there loud noises in your home? Perhaps there has been an uptick in a busy road outside your house, or maybe there is a new baby in the home.
Any of these situations (and thousands more) can cause significant stress for your dog.
If your dog is stressed, licking your bed sheets is a rhythmic way for them to calm down. Licking releases endorphins and can help soothe your dog.
Alternatively, your dog could simply be bored. Under-stimulated or nervous dogs are likely to revert to repetitive behaviors to calm them down.
Like humans, dogs can have compulsive behaviors. In fact, compulsive behaviors are more common in dogs than humans. Compulsive behavior is when a dog feels an urge to repeat a behavior repeatedly.
Dogs with anxieties or trauma are more likely to suffer from compulsive behavior. If your dog has not had proper socialization, there is a greater chance of compulsive behavior.
Some compulsive behaviors are more common in certain breeds of dogs. There are different types of compulsive behaviors, some of which are less harmful and merely repetitive.
Compulsive behaviors become problematic when they get in the way of your dog’s regular routines.
If your dog is only licking the sheets for a few seconds at a time, it’s likely nothing serious. Not all behaviors are signifiers of a more significant issue, but mere habits.
However, if your dog is licking the sheets for hours and will not take a pause to even eat, there’s probably a bigger problem at play.
This one might seem strange, but it could be simply that your sheets smell a lot like you! If your dog licks the sheets when you are out of the house, this is likely the reason for it. They feel affection for you and your scent.
If you eat food in bed, your dog could be licking the sheets because of the taste. Any trace of crumbs or some spills on there will likely attract your dog.
There is also the chance your dog chewed a bone or a chew toy on your sheets at an earlier time. There might be remnants of the bone or toy on the sheets.
Many dogs will eat grass when their stomach hurts. However, if your dog is inside and doesn’t have free access to grass, they will have to find a substitute. This often means licking fabric!
Additionally, if there are any nutrient deficiencies in your pup’s diet, they are likely to lick fabric in an attempt to find it somewhere else.
In the wild, they would be able to find it elsewhere. In an apartment or home, they will have to settle for licking furniture. This is their way of “hunting” for the nutrients they need.
Are There Any Negatives To Licking Bed Sheets?
In most cases, licking bed sheets is not harmful. It’s normally just a strange habit your dog has.
However, that does not mean they are not damaging your sheets! It’s never fun to have a wet spot on your bed from your dog’s constant licking. Not to mention the fact that you don’t want to purchase new bed sheets every few months.
Other than the financial burden, there are two big negatives to your dog licking bed sheets.
1) Consuming Something Unhealthy
If your dog is licking fabric, there is a chance they are consuming something they shouldn’t be. This includes lint from fabric, dust, etc. There may ever be harmful dyes in the sheets that can upset your dog’s stomach.
2) Compulsive Behavior Disorder
While not a direct consequence, licking sheets repeatedly could signify a bigger problem. We mentioned this earlier as a reason for licking sheets, but it’s also an indirect consequence.
The canine version of OCD (compulsive behavior disorder) is marked by compulsive behaviors that interfere with your dog’s life.
If your dog refuses to eat or drink because they are busy licking the sheets, it could be a symptom. If you suspect this is the case, take your dog to the vet ASAP. More severe compulsions include your dog licking themselves until they lose their hair or get skin irritations.
Getting Your Dog to Stop Licking Bed Sheets
Now that you have a better idea of why your dog is licking your bed sheets, let’s talk about how to put an end to this behavior.
Socialization and Exercise
Make sure that your dog is properly socializing. If your dog is not getting enough opportunities to socialize, they will be understimulated and likely to act out. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to socialize your dog.
First, you can exercise with your dog. Take your dogs on runs and long walks, or bring them to the park with you. Many parks have off-leash areas or off-leash hours so that your dog can run around as much as they want.
Second, there are doggie playgroups your pup could join. Your dog will get to play with other dogs in a supervised environment. They will have lots of fun and will be exhausted and content by the time they get back. You can also arrange doggie playdates with your friends’ dogs.
Finally, there is the more straightforward option of new toys. Treat-dispensing toys are a fun option that will keep your dog occupied for hours. If you want to get involved and play with your dog, tug-of-war ropes are a great option.
If the problem is under stimulation or under-exercised, one of these simple solutions should do the trick! If not, try one of the following options.
If it seems like a stress or anxiety-related response, there are things you can do to help eliminate your dog’s stress.
If you know exactly what could be causing the stress, ask yourself if there’s any way you can eliminate it.
Odd or loud noises are a common cause of stress in dogs. If there are ways for you to minimize the noise in your dog’s living space, that would be a great first step.
Dogs also thrive on routines. So one of the best ways to eliminate stress is to establish a routine and to stick with it. If you have a reliable schedule and hold to it, they will be less stressed.
You can also attempt to fix your dog’s behavior through training. Redirection is a popular option and should work well in most cases.
The aim is to redirect your dog’s attention elsewhere until they learn that licking the bed sheets is not something they should be doing.
Another option is substitutions. When they start licking your sheets, give them something that they can lick instead. Choose something that will not harm them but will also save your sheets from a saliva attack!
You can also use a bad-tasting spray like bitter apple spray. Most dogs hate this taste, so your dog will quickly learn they don’t like the taste of your bed sheets.
On a side note, your dog may also be attracted to the scent of your laundry detergent. If that’s the case, changing the detergent would be the easiest solution.
What if it’s Becoming an Issue?
As you can see, there are many reasons your dog might lick your bed sheets. The reasons range from anxiety and boredom to compulsive behaviors. If it’s becoming an issue, try one of the solutions we went over in this article. If the behavior continues to persist, seek advice from your vet.
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