It’s no secret that dogs like to lick and slobber on things that we’d rather they left alone. And unfortunately for us, our pillows seem to be a special source of attraction for dogs who like to lick. Why is that?
It turns out that dogs love our pillows because of the salt that we leave behind, sweating and shedding skin. Though sometimes, it could be due to a change in diet or just a bad habit.
So how do you stop your dog from turning your pillow into a swamp of saliva?
Read on to find out!
Understanding Why Dogs Lick Things
A Dog doesn’t have hands, so it uses its mouth to explore. Dogs pick up things, carrying things, and exploring tastes and textures by licking.
But how does this explain continuously licking something as bland as a pillow?
Why Is Your Dog Licking Your Pillow?
You may wonder, if your dog has food and treats to savor, why would they go after something as tasteless as a pillow?
It turns out your pillow does taste good to your dog. Otherwise, the reason could merely be psychological. Here are some common reasons why your dog might be licking your pillow:
1. Your dog likes the salty taste of the pillow
Dogs tend to love things that taste salty. And while you may not know, your pillow is a particularly salty object.
When we sleep, we tend to sweat, and we shed dead skin cells. Both of these accumulate directly onto our pillows and give it a salty taste. Some of us also put on lotions and face creams before sleeping, which also get smeared over our pillows.
So your pillow will get the attention of your dog’s nose. And when they lick it, the saline sweat and lotion immediately appeals to your dog’s taste buds.
2. Your dog could have separation anxiety
Some dogs can develop a fear of separation from their owners, which causes them to become very anxious after their owners leave, and they start acting out due to stress.
In manycases, your dog will seek things that comfort them and reminds them of you, and your pillow fills this role perfectly. Since you spend almost 8 hours every day sleeping, your pillow smells most like you.
And because dogs have a super-sensitive nose, that’s the first thing they’ll go after. If you come back home after work and usually find your pillow soaked in saliva, your dog may have separation anxiety and tries to soothe itself by licking your pillow.
3. Your dog has obsessive-compulsive disorder
If you notice that your dog is licking your pillow without stopping, they could be suffering from OCD. Dogs that develop this disorder will consistently repeat a specific behavior, even to the point of physical harm.
Some dogs with OCD show signs like scratching a spot till it bleeds, or chasing their tails continuously for hours. Or, they might also develop a habit of licking your pillow non-stop for abnormal amounts of time.
Forcefully trying to stop a dog with OCD from repeating destructive behavior can lead to aggression. So if you suspect that your dog is suffering from it, you’re better off taking them to a veterinarian.
4. Your dog might be compensating for a change in diet
If you have recently changed your dog’s diet, they might be making up for the lack of fulfillment by licking your pillow.
Dogs tend to prefer a stable and constant routine. If you tweak it a bit by changing up their diet, they might feel unfulfilled and turn to your pillow to satisfy their cravings for salt.
It could also be the case that your dog’s new diet lacks enough salt, and they’remaking up for it by licking your pillow. Dogs may even eat grass to fulfill their nutritional needs.
5. You have been unintentionally encouraging your dog to lick the pillow
Another bizarre reason why your dog might be licking your pillow is that you’vebeen unintentionally encouraging them to do so. This is similar to positive reinforcement when you encourage your dog to perform a particular action.
In this case, you might be accidentally praising your dog or giving them a treat right after they lick your pillow. From your dog’s perspective, you’re giving them your attention when they lick your pillow. Therefore, they’ll habitually repeat this behavior, expecting some reward from you.
How To Stop Your Dog From Licking Your Pillow
Now that you know the reasons why your dog could be licking your pillow, it’stime to find out which one you are guilty of doing. To do so, you can look into two details that’ll help you come upon an answer:
When does your dog lick your pillow?
Finding out when your dog licks your pillow can help you find out the reason for this behavior.
Most dogs that lick their pillow while they’re owners aren’t at home are doing it because of separation anxiety. If your dog does it right after you wake up, it might be because canines are most active during dawn.
Otherwise, if you notice that your dog comes to you expecting a treat after licking the pillow, it could be a case of unintentional positive reinforcement.
When did your dog start licking your pillow?
Identifying when your dog started this habit can help you pinpoint the reason for it. Most times, dogs exhibita new behavior when they go through some change in their routine.
If you’ve recently changed their diet, your dog could be licking the pillow to satisfy their salt cravings. If you’ve started a new job that changes your schedule, your dog may be experiencing separation anxiety. The behavior could also get triggered during summers when we sweat more while sleeping.
Steps To Stop Your Dog From Licking Your Pillow
Once you’ve discovered the reason behind your dog’s pillow-licking, it’s time to put an end to it. To do this, you can implement multiple techniques that can help your dog overcome the reason which triggered the habit in the first place.
Here are some of the most useful methods to stop a dog from licking your pillow:
1. Prevent your dog’s access to pillows
Before you try anything else, cut off your dog’s access to your pillows, the most straightforward and effective technique of all. When you’re not sleeping, store your pillows in the closet.
However, this is not always effective or even suitable. If your dog licks the pillows to fulfill a need for salt or out of OCD, they might resort to licking other stuff or even becoming aggressive. Therefore, you should also fix the problem from its root for more permanent outcomes.
2. Treat your dog’s separation anxiety
Many dogs develop separation anxiety when they haven’t been trained that it’s okay to spend time alone. They createa need forconstant attention and become extremely anxious when they’re left alone.
To prevent this from happening, train your dog to be comfortable in your absence. For milder cases, offer your dog some activity that rewards them,such as a puzzle hiding treats or a chewing toy stuffed with food.
But if your pup’s case is more severe, you might have to be more patient and gradually increase the time your dog spends alone. Each time your dog doesn’t get anxious, offer a treat. With time, you can increase the duration you leave until your dog adjusts to your routine.
3. Offer your dog alternatives
Some dogs find it entertaining to lick your pillows when they’realone. If you suspect that the habit has developed purely due to boredom, offer your dog other alternative entertainment sources when you leave them alone.
A great toy to keep your dog busy during your absence is the puzzle. These puzzles are designed specifically for dogs and challenge their sniffing abilities. Upon solving the puzzle, your dog receives a treat.
These toys stimulate and challenge your pup, both mentally and physically. For naturally more intelligent dogs, these toys are a must to prevent them from becoming destructive.
Apart from puzzles, you could also offer your dog chewing toys filled with treats. They come in different shapes and sizes and can be filled with a frozen treat.
4. Fix your dog’s diet
For those dogs lacking in nutritional fulfillment, modifying theirdiet could help solve the pillow-licking habit. If you recently changed your dog’s diet, the chances are that this is what’s causing the problem.
The best way would be to adjust your dog’s diet would be to consult your veterinarian. They can help highlight which nutrients your dog lacks and help you design a diet that fulfills all their dietary needs.
5. Manually train them to stop licking pillows
If all else fails or you can’tfigure out why your dog is licking your pillow, you can always train them to stop through positive reinforcement.
To do this, bring your dog some pillows and take a few treats in your hands. When your dog starts licking the pillow, tell them to stop in a firm and clear voice. After they do, praise them and give them a treat.
Repeat this daily, and your dog will eventually recognize that they’ll get praised when they don’t lick your pillow.
Should you stop your dog from licking your pillow?
Yes, a dog’s saliva can contain many bacteria, which, although harmless to them, can be harmful to humans. Always wash your pillow if you find out that your dog has been licking it.
Why is my dog licking the blankets?
Dogs lick blankets for the same reason they lick pillows. Blankets contain dead skin cells and sweat, which appeals to your dog’s appetite for salt.
Why is my dog licking itself over excessively?
A case of excessive licking until the point where your dog’s hair starts falling or skin start bleeding could mean that they have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Why do dogs lick themselves before going to sleep?
Licking an instinct that dogs developed from when their mother used to lick them as puppies. It also helps them clean their coat and stimulate more growth.
Does licking wounds help them heal faster?
Yes, the saliva of dogs contains enzymes and compounds that break the cell walls of bacteria and prevents the wound from getting infected.