No doubt, dogs are human’s best and most loyal friends. But, as much as we love our dogs, many habits about them simultaneously make us feel confused and worried. One such habit among dogs that keeps us confusing is to lick and slobber on different things that attract them. And among the things that attract the most is the pillow.
Now the question arises: why are dogs particularly attracted to the pillow? What is in that? Of course, the salt your sweat leaves on the pillow can attract your dog, but there can be many other reasons for this.
This article will help you understand the reason behind this behavior of pillow licking in your dog. Keep reading to learn more about your dog’s pillow licking behavior and ways to stop it.
Why Does a Dog Lick Things?
The most common question the owners ask the veterinarian is why their dog licks their pillows. You may ask the question: If the dog has access to something healthy and tasty, then what is the need for the dog to lick something like a pillow?
The pillow may also have some taste or scent that attracts the dog, but the exact reason is not yet confirmed. So we have listed the reasons in this article for your dog’s licking the pillow.
1. Your dog likes the taste of your pillow
It may sound weird to you, but the reason could be that your dog likes the taste of the pillow. As we sweat, there are a lot of dead skin cells that shed with the sweat. Also, layers of sweat and dead cells get attached to the pillow.
Also, some people like to apply lotion or cream on their face before going to sleep, and this soap or cream gets smeared on the pillow. These sweat and soaps or creams appeal to your dog, causing your dog to be attracted to the pillow, and these satisfy your dog’s taste buds.
If you are a person who sweats a lot at night, sweating can be the most probable cause for your dog to lick the pillowcase.
But if your dog has developed the habit of licking the pillow case more often, this can be due to a change in your dog’s diet. It is usually observed that a change in the dog’s diet often leads to a change in the dog’s habits, including excessive licking of the pillowcase, which we will know further.
Ensure you wash the bedding and pillow covers often so the dog may not get attracted to the smell of sweat and other problems related to sweat are at bay.
Also Read: Why Does My Dog Lick The Blanket? [What To Do]
2. The dog could be experiencing separation anxiety
Some dogs often develop separation anxiety from their owners, making them behave weirdly in many situations.
In many cases, you will observe that the dog tends to be more clingy to the things that belong to the owner or those that make the dog think of its owner. As it’s very well known that a human spends nearly 8 hours of the day sleeping, it’s obvious that the pillow will somewhat smell like the owner. This smell of the pillow attracts the dog towards itself.
Your dog has a strong sense of smell. However, you may know this beforehand only. So the first thing the dog will try to grab to feel you near will be the pillow. Now, if you come home after a long day and find the pillow wet with your dog’s saliva – it could most probably be that the dog is feeling separation anxiety.
This kind of behavior in your dog is tough to treat, as your dog will behave differently, i.e., separation anxiety only when you’ve gone out. Separation anxiety in your dog can occur at any time, irrespective of anything because it is never a matter of time for your dog. It’s dog instincts that make him behave as such because dogs don’t have a track of time.
3. Could be due to obsessive-compulsive disorder
If your dog is licking the pillow incessantly, then possibly your dog is having an obsessive compulsive disorder, commonly known as OCD. Dogs suffering from OCD will continue to behave in a certain way even if that particular thing is causing them excess harm.
Dogs who suffer from the behavior of obsessive compulsive disorder will continuously scratch a part of the body till it bleeds. Or you will observe the dog will chase its tail for hours. Other than this, you can observe that the dog licks the pillow excessively, causing it to be a symptom of OCD.
If you observe your dog showing symptoms of obsessive-compulsive behavior, the best option is to take your dog to the veterinarian rather than try to stop the dog by yourself. If you try to stop the dog or give treatment by yourself, it will lead to more aggressive behavior by your dog.
4. Unintentional encouragement
In some cases, the behavior of licking the pillow will be more prominent in your dog’s life if you unintentionally encourage it. In these cases, you may chase your dog when it licks the pillow or gives the dog treats unintentionally.
The dog will think that such behavior attracts your attention, or you will offer the dog with some treats, so he is more likely to engage in such behavior. Therefore, be careful whenever you go to give your dog treats or chase them.
5. Sudden change in your dog’s diet
You may notice that when you change your dog’s diet, the dog starts behaving weirdly. For example, a sudden change in behavior and licking the pillow excessively can result from a change in your dog’s diet.
Your dog has certain daily requirements for nutrition, salt, and other items. If the newly changed diet doesn’t fulfill your dog’s body requirements, the dog is more likely to lick the sweat to stabilize the salt level in its body and fulfill its nutritional needs.
What Are the Things to Keep in Mind if the Dog Licks Pillow Excessively?
There are a few things that not only help you find the way to stop your dog from licking the pillowcase but will also suggest to you what to consider when observing such behavior in your dog.
There can be cases, as explained above, where you are encouraging your dog to behave in a certain way, like licking the pillow. This behavior of your dog gets encouragement when you give your dog treats or chase them, so stop doing so and be observant.
Consider when your dog starts licking the pillow for the first time
Recall the first time you noticed your dog licking the pillow. Although it can be tough for you to notice but try anyhow and figure this out. If you can figure out when you noticed your dog started licking the pillow, it will be easy to find out the factor contributing to this behavior.
If you find out that the dog doesn’t lick the pillow all the time, then there can be certain unknown factors that contribute to this pillow licking behavior in your dog.
The factors that lead to these changes or trigger this behavior in your dog may be some change in diet, temperature, or lifestyle change issues. You may also notice that such behavior in your dog can occur on hot nights when you sweat a lot.
If you notice that this behavior in your dog is from the start, then the reasons mentioned above can be the cause. However, do not just consider only these as the causes. There can be some compulsive issues at play in your dog that leads to such behavior in your dog.
And if you are able to figure out the first time your dog performed such behavior, it can be easy to notice whether it is a random factor or a behavior issue.
Consider all the times when your dog licks the pillow
As much as it’s important to find out when your dog starts licking the pillow simultaneously, it’s also important to find out when your dog does so. If your dog does this behavior randomly, then it can be due to some behavioral issue with your dog.
If you notice that your dog starts licking the pillow just before you leave, then the main issue can be the separation anxiety your dog faces. If you are not giving attention to your dog and are preoccupied, the dog will lick the pillow to get your attention or feel yourself near it.
Try to show your dog some love before leaving, and also give your dog attention. This initiative from your side will help your dog recover very soon from this behavioral issue of pillow licking.
How To Stop Your Dog From The Weird Habit Of Licking The Pillow?
The main reason to find the causes and reasons of the dog licking the pillow is to find the ways to stop it. Although this behavior in your dog is not dangerous for you, you still need to stop this behavior in your dog. Because, first and foremost, finding your dog’s saliva on the pillow sounds revolting.
Secondly, if your dog doesn’t stop licking your pillow, this behavior can cause various infections, and thus you would surely want to stop such behavior in your dog. There are several ways to change such behavior in your dog and protect it by stopping it from doing weird things.
How you will treat this behavior depends upon the reason or cause that led the dog to behave like this. So you need to be careful and observe the reason for such behavior of pillow licking by your dog.
1. Negative enforcement to stop your dog’s pillow licking behavior
If you catch your dog licking a pillow to stop them, negative reinforcement can be the simplest and easiest way. In this method, you sternly call your dog’s name or stop your dog. It will take time for your dog to learn about this, but sooner or later, it will learn to stop, as the dog never wants to upset its owner.
If your dog does not stop such behavior even after you stop it, then you don’t need to scold or shout at your dog. Shouting at your dog will not give any benefit but will just upset both you and your dog.
2. Prevent your dog’s access to the pillow
One straightforward method of treating this problem can be hiding the pillow when you are not using it. Cutting the pillow access to your dog will lead to the dog not licking it. Instead, put the pillow in the closet when it is not in use, which will somewhat prevent the pillow licking habit of your dog.
However, if the problem is related to OCD behavior in your dog or changes in diet, then the dog will try to lick other things; and there are more chances that the dog will become more aggressive. So, always try to find the root cause of a problem and solve it from there, rather than finding temporary replacements.
3. Try to ease the separation anxiety problem
If you find separation anxiety the issue for your dog licking the pillow more often, try to fix this problem.
If the dogs are in their training phase, then it’s obvious that they demand attention all the time. Not giving attention to your dog during the training period will cause them to feel lonely, and this further will cause separation anxiety in dogs.
In other instances, you can give your dog some training on how to live in your absence and not feel lonely. In such cases, you can give your dog some toys or puzzles to solve and train them to do so in your absence.
If the case with your dog is more severe and the dog can’t spend more time alone without you, you have to gradually increase the time your dog spends without you. Reward your dog with some treats whenever your dog spends time alone without behaving weirdly. Also, increase the time you spend with your dog.
4. Give your dog an alternative to chew
Some dogs lick their pillows as a source of enjoyment or for fun. If you find that your dog is licking the pillow due to boredom or for entertainment; then give your dog some chewy toys or other things for entertainment.
Giving your dog special dog puzzles to solve is the best way to relieve boredom for your dog. The puzzles will keep your dog busy in play, and you will notice the dog having an alternative entertainment mode until you arrive at your dog for play.
The special dog puzzles are specially designed in a way to train your dog both mentally and physically. These puzzles and other dog games are there for your dog to stop them from being destructive in their free time and acquiring bad habits.
Also, besides puzzles, you can prefer giving some chewing toys or treats that come in different colors and shapes and may seem attractive to your dog.
5. Fix the diet of your dog to help him
If you have changed your dog’s diet recently and observe the weird behavior, the problem can be in your dog’s diet that causes the dog to lack nutrition.
The lack of nutrition in the dog’s body further causes many problems, and the use of the pillow for stabilizing salt and nutritional requirements is one of them.
Now you can visit the veterinarian and ask about the issue with your dog’s diet and try to fix it as much as possible. The best way to get your dog to stop licking the pillow is to give it a proper diet, as suggested by the vet.
6. Manually Train Your dog to Stop Licking the Pillow
If you cannot stop your dog from licking the pillow and you are also unaware of the reason why your dog behaves so, you can treat your dog manually and with the help of positive reinforcement.
A specific kind of training, also known as “leave it training,” is eventually based on positive reinforcement.
For positive reinforcement, you have to bring a pillow and some treats. When your dog starts licking the pillow, ask him to stop, and give the dog a good treat when he stops such behavior.
Repeating the positive reinforcement daily will help you stop this weird habit of pillow licking of your dog, only if you practice it with your dog repeatedly.
Many times, you will notice that your dog behaves differently as a result of stress or for other reasons. For example, the dog starts developing many weird habits, and constantly licking the pillow is one of those habits. Now you have to be careful and notice the things that lead to such behavior in your dog and also try to find ways by which you can stop your dog from behaving weirdly and licking the pillow.
Here in the article, you will have access to both reasons and ways to stop your dog’s such behavior. Using these methods, you can help your dog stop the behavior of licking the pillow by getting to the root cause. But if you have trouble, you can call the vet immediately if your dog is behaving extremely weirdly, like licking the pillow.