Have you ever wondered why your dog licks your bedsheets? While it may seem like just a funny quirk, there are actually some valid reasons why dogs engage in licking behavior. It may be because they miss their pack, or it could be something more serious – even life-threatening – if the behavior happens at places other than your bedding.
Here’s what experts say about why my dog lick my bedsheets and what you can do about it.
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Dogs Smells Differently
Dogs’ senses of smell are up to 100,000 times stronger than ours! This means they can detect odors in parts per trillion (1/100,000th of a drop). As such, they’re able to discern very small amounts of scent and get extra information from them.
Dog saliva has pheromones that dogs leave on items or surfaces that have been marked with their scent—this is why your dog likes to kiss and claim you with wet kisses! When your dog licks an object, he’s not just tasting it; he’s also collecting more information about it.
In addition to tasting things, dogs also like to use their tongues to explore objects and surfaces—it helps them gather sensory data about everything around them. So, when your dog licks his bed sheets or other objects in his environment, he’s gathering sensory data about those objects by using his sense of taste and touch together. It’s kind of like how we might rub our hands over something to feel its texture, but with a little more gusto!
The next time your furry friend’s licking his toys, carpet, or other objects, remember that he’s gathering sensory data and checking out whatever it is he’s sampling! And if you think about it—why wouldn’t he do it in a more intense way than we would? After all, dogs have a far stronger sense of smell than we do!
There Are Basic Underlying Reasons Why Dogs Lick
Dogs that have medical conditions such as a gastrointestinal upset may drool and lick excessively because they are trying to self-regulate their body temperature or due to actual pain in their mouth, says Dr.
Martina Schulte, DVM, founder of The Dog Therapy Project, LLC., of New York City. If your furry friend is licking for no apparent reason though, she suggests these three steps
1) Examine his environment;
2) Consider his diet;
3) Take him to a veterinarian.
If you’ve ruled out any underlying causes, it’s important to consider whether he might be stressed by something going on in his life, says Schulte.
Cleanliness Is a Top Priority For Your Dog
When your pup smells a scent on something, he will often lick it to remove any germs.
In general, dogs are natural germaphobes; their saliva is a defense mechanism that can kill harmful microbes and bacteria, even some types of poison ivy! And for a pooch who craves order and organization, licking your sheets is a way to get them clean.
You might notice your dog taking an interest in your laundry after you’ve cleaned up a mess—or maybe you’ve recently washed things like dirty shoes or socks. If so, don’t be surprised if she starts licking away at those items too. Your pup is just trying to keep things tidy (and safe) for everyone! So how do you stop her from doing it? Dogs hate when we interrupt them mid-lick, so try to distract her with a toy or treat instead.
For particularly persistent pups, try spraying Bitter Apple onto your sheets before going to bed. Just make sure not to spray directly onto any fabrics—you want your pup to smell it but not ingest it! But before resorting to these measures, there may be another reason why your dog is preoccupied with licking… Is your dog bored? Licking isn’t always about cleaning:
Dogs need physical and mental stimulation every day, and sometimes they’ll turn to licking as a means of relieving boredom. If you’re home all day without giving him much attention, chances are he’ll start looking for ways to entertain himself.
This usually manifests itself as chewing furniture or digging holes in your yard—but it could also include excessive sheet-licking. Try getting outside more often with him by playing fetch or walking around your neighborhood together.
Anxiety Issues Can Cause Excessive Licking In Dogs
Anxiety can cause a variety of behavioral issues in dogs, including excessive licking, chewing, and tail-chasing. Your pooch may be worried about something or even feel ill; you should always be sure to check with your vet if you suspect there’s an underlying medical issue at play.
There are also environmental factors that could contribute to anxiety, such as having too much energy or being left alone for long periods of time. If you’re concerned that your dog is anxious—or if she has other serious behavior problems—consider seeking out professional help from a trainer or animal behaviorist.
In some cases, it might make sense to keep your dog away from certain people or animals while she learns new habits. And while most canine anxieties don’t require medication, you might consider consulting with a veterinary behaviorist if things get particularly bad. But regardless of how you approach treatment, remember that any training will take time. Keep your expectations realistic and remain patient.
It’s important to find ways to encourage good behavior without pushing your dog beyond her comfort zone—even if it means taking frequent breaks when working on training exercises together. When all else fails, distract your pup with games like fetch or tug-of-war!
Some Dogs Are Just Born ‘Lickers’
Experts agree that for many dogs, licking is in their DNA, and it’s a behavior that can be seen throughout their lives.
While some dogs just seem to start licking out of nowhere, others lick to stimulate glands in their mouths—this is common in pups with shorter muzzles (think: French Bulldogs). Yet even if your pup falls into one of these categories, it doesn’t mean he or she can’t still develop a compulsive licking habit for seemingly no reason at all!
In fact, according to one study published in 2015, approximately 10 percent of dogs have a tendency toward obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which includes excessive licking as one of its symptoms.