Why Does My Dog Lick My Pillow? The Top 3 Reasons

dog laying on the bed

There are several reasons your dog licks your pillow. The most likely explanation is that they enjoy the taste! Sounds gross, but some dogs enjoy the salty taste of our sweat. Your dog may also lick your pillow because they miss you or have a compulsive disorder.

Dogs sure do behave strangely sometimes, and it’s not always clear what causes their odd behavior. One of the strangest things that dogs do is licking pillows and bedding.

Why Do Dogs Lick Pillows?

Dogs usually lick pillows due to one of the following three reasons.

1) It Tastes Good

As disgusting as it may seem to us, the most common reason for a dog to lick its owner’s pillow is that he likes the taste of the sweat and oils you emit at night.

Sweat is salty, giving the pillow an additional flavor boost that dogs love.

Make sure your dog’s diet is in order and that he’s not licking the pillow out of desperation to make up for a nutritional deficit, but most likely, he just likes it.

2) The Dog Misses You

Your dog sees you as the pack leader, and being separated from you can cause a high level of anxiety for some dogs.

Dogs who lick their owner’s pillow as the owner is getting ready to leave for the day likely have high levels of separation anxiety.

Licking your pillow or bedding is a way for the dog to be close to your scent and may be soothing to the dog.

If you suspect that this is the case for your dog, try getting him a companion dog so he won’t feel so lonely when you’re away. Alternately, you can seek a pet behaviorist who can retrain him so that he learns to feel more secure and less anxious.

Other behaviors that indicate extreme separation anxiety are:

  • accidents, especially on your items
  • excessive chewing
  • non-stop barking (which you might not even realize is happening if you’re not home)
  • Escaping
  • Digging and other destructive behaviors

3) Compulsive Behavior

Regardless of the reason for starting the behavior, some dogs have compulsive natures, usually due to high stress levels and inadequate coping mechanisms.

These dogs will often get pulled into compulsive behaviors such as pulling their hair out, excessive pacing or chewing, or licking pillows and bedding.

If this is the case with your dog, definitely hire a professional to help him. A dog that’s exhibiting compulsive behaviors is not a happy and well-adjusted dog.

Other Strange Dog Behaviors

Licking pillows isn’t the only strange thing that dogs do, as most pet owners will happily tell you. Luckily, not all behaviors are destructive or compulsive, like the ones listed above.

Some dog behaviors are harmless and just plain cute. Here are some common behaviors that might be normal to dogs but seem strange to us.

Howling at Ambulances

Contrary to what many people think, dogs don’t howl at ambulances and other sirens because of the noise hurting their ears.

In fact, howling is how wild dogs, coyotes, and wolves communicate over long distances, rarely using the sound out of pain.

Certain noises, like sirens, trigger dogs’ natural urge to howl in response to hearing another dog’s howl in the distance.

Tail Chasing

Dogs chase their tails for 2 main reasons:

  1. it’s fun
  2. something’s wrong

If your dog is chasing her tail and seems to enjoy herself, chances are good that she’s just bored and trying to keep herself entertained.

However, if your dog chases her tail regularly and seems agitated or distressed, it’s a pretty good sign that something’s wrong.

This can be anything from pain, pests, and skin conditions to signs of mental illness. Get her checked out right away.

Running While Sleeping

When dogs dream, they have a tendency to act out their dreams, which can include twitching feet as though they’re running.

This adorable behavior is entirely harmless unless the dog seems distressed – in which case, wake her up.

Eating Gross Stuff

Simply put, dogs don’t have the same tastes as humans when it comes to actual flavor and what’s socially acceptable.

Dogs also use their mouths to explore their world, so they might put things in their mouth out of curiosity. Puppies are as bad as toddlers are when it comes to putting things in their mouths.

For these reasons, dogs have no trouble eating poop, vomit, or dead animals. Just because a dog thinks it’s a good idea, though, doesn’t mean it is.

If your dog is about to eat something gross, it’s best to stop him so he doesn’t ingest something harmful.

Sticking Their Heads Out Car Windows

Dogs who enjoy car rides (not all of them do) will usually stick their heads as far out of car windows as they’re able to.

Although it looks like they’re just enjoying the breeze, it’s actually to get in as many scents as possible.

Sticking their heads out of car windows can be dangerous, though, and it’s important to either restrain the dog or only open the window enough for his nose to fit through.

Scooting

One of the least classy of strange dog behaviors is “scooting” across a carpet. This is almost always because of an itchy butt, which can be caused by:

  • allergies
  • sensitivity to shampoo (or the shampoo wasn’t rinsed out enough)
  • skin pests
  • razor burn

Although occasional scooting isn’t a huge deal, if your dog’s constantly itching his rear, find out why and get him some relief.

Sniffing Butts and Other Personal Areas

Dogs don’t have the same sense of personal space as humans. They have no problem getting their nose in some weird places to gather information about another dog or person.

These two areas, in particular, contain more pheromones, which dogs are attracted to. These chemicals can tell a dog a lot about a person or dog, including personality and current mood.

Zoomies

Some dogs will occasionally get bursts of crazy energy, making them race around an area at lightning speed. A lot of pet owners call these the zoomies.

Zoomies are a good thing and means that your dog is happy and full of energy. If there’s no reason to stop it, it’s best to let a dog finish his zoomies on his own time so he can burn through the energy.

He’ll soon wear himself out and likely be ready for a nap.

Circling Before Bed

Certain dogs will circle before going to bed, usually turning around three times.

Most experts agree that this is likely a leftover habit from when the dog’s ancestors lived in tall grass and would circle to lay the grass down flat to create a nest.

Rolling in Gross Stuff

Gross stuff isn’t only for eating, according to dogs. It’s also great to use as a cologne.

Dogs will roll in poop, dead animals, and urine to cover themselves in the smell. This is another trait leftover from their ancestors, who would roll around in strong odors to disguise their own scent.

This behavior also explains why some dogs will pee in their owner’s bed. It’s not out of spite like many people believe. It’s actually fear, and they’re trying to hide their scent in yours.

Licking Pillows is Not a Cause For Concern

Dogs are endless sources of amusement, even if some of their behavior confuses us.

If your dog occasionally does something strange, like licking your pillow, there’s usually no need to worry about it unless it becomes a regular habit or seems to be due to an underlying behavioral or health issue.

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