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13 Reasons Why Your Dog Licks Your Pillow + 7 Tips

Why Does My Dog Lick My Pillow

Does your pooch often go loco on your pillow? Do they lick it so hard as if their life depends on it?

And they always come back for more, like it’s a lump of mouthwatering barbecue meat or a tasty bone?

If so, you might wonder what’s with this odd behavior. And how you could prevent your bolsters from getting soaked every time.

Just relax. And…

Read on to discover:

  • What makes your pillow taste so good.
  • 7 tips on how you can keep your dog away from your cushion.
  • Why you should be worried if the behavior becomes excessive.
  • Whether your dog does this due to behavioral or medical problems.
  • And so much more…

Why does my dog lick my pillow?

Your dog licks your pillow because it relieves stress, they’re anxious and seek comfort in your scent and dander, it has an unfamiliar odor, they’re bored, it’s a habit, they’re hungry, it has crumbs, or you made them do it. It can also be due to allergies, nausea, OCD, or gastrointestinal issues.

Why does my dog lick my pillow and blankets?

Your dog licks your pillow and blankets because they have your scent and it helps them cope with anxiety, they may be attracted to the taste of your sweat and sheddings, or they may have found food crumbs all over them. It may also be due to OCD or they just love the texture because they’re so soft.

13 reasons why your dog licks your pillow

#1: It relieves their stress

Have you recently moved into a home with your dog? Or is there a construction site nearby?

Dogs get stressed too. But how do they cope up with that?

Aside from barking, they’ll also lick and drool so much. Because apparently, endorphins or ‘happy hormones’ are produced in dogs by licking.

So, doing that until your pillows get soaked helps them deal with the stressors around them. Even in humans, those mood boosters are effective pain reducers. And they’re all natural too.

And oh, your pooch may also enjoy them because of their smooth and soft texture.

#2: Your dog has anxiety

Your Dog Licks Your Pillow Because Of Anxiety

Dogs who often feel nervous will look for something that’ll calm themselves.

And in their search, they might’ve found your pillows on your bed. There’s a delight in their eyes, while saying, “Aha! This is my human’s scent. This is exactly what I need.”

So they’ll lick them until they feel better. And they might do it again when they feel uneasy. Like when you leave them alone, or go outside for long hours.

Apart from the first reason, they might also enjoy licking them because of your scent. And they love it because it’s the smell of their favorite person. It puts them at ease.

They might also feel insecure and need to be closer to you. And when you’re gone, or if they can’t go to you at the moment, they’ll use your pillow as an alternative.

#3: It has your sweat and dander

It might sound gross. But yes, they can be attracted to your sweat and very tiny dead skin particles on your pillows.

Dogs like the taste of human sweat because it’s a bit salty. And it’s even more special to them because it’s your perspiration. It also has your scent on them – the person they love most. 🙂

Fun fact: Sweat is basically water and sodium. And based on a study, sodium makes dogs very thirsty. It’s nature’s way of keeping them hydrated and healthy.

#4: Your dog smells something

“Hmm…this smells good. I wonder what it is.

Let me taste it.”

Wait…taste? Yes, it’s connected with the sense of smell. And for dogs, their noses are much better than their tongues, so they taste by sniffing.

Amazing, right?

So it might be that your dog smells something interesting on your pillows. Or it can also be that they’re inspecting the scent that you left there. 

It may not be strong enough for them to know what it is. So they lick to wet the surface.

Do you ever wonder why things that are soaked smell more?

It’s because the odor sticks better to the olfactory areas when there’s moisture. That’s why your pooch drenched your pillow for them to know what it is.

It can be your new shampoo, conditioner, hair treatment, or deodorant. Dogs are very curious. And they can detect anything for they have a million times greater smell than humans.

Fun fact: Do you know that dogs only have around 1,700 taste buds? While humans have almost 6 times greater than that?

#5: It’s their way to keep busy

“So you got nothing in here? Okay, let me grab your pillow and…”

When was the last time you’ve played with your dog? And how often do you take them for a walk?

Dogs can also get bored like people. So your pooch might be doing it to keep themselves occupied because they’ve got nothing to do. And it’s making them anxious as well. 

Especially if yours is a working breed like Huskies and Retrievers. Doing tasks are better for them than sleeping in bed all day.

Your dog might also lack in daily physical and mental exercises. Without those, a study says that they may resort to unwanted behaviors like this one.

Being unable to go outside and play makes them so frustrated. So they nip on your cushion instead to release stress. And it somehow became an activity that replaced playtime.

#6: Your dog has learned the behavior

Well, it’s also possible that you may have taught your dog to do it. And you’re not aware of it.

They might have been licking you or other objects before. But then they got scolded and asked to refrain from doing it.

But dogs can’t just stop doing something without a substitute. That discouraged activity turns into a hole. And what do you do if there’s a void? You fill it.

So they might’ve looked for other things to do. And it just so happened that your pillow and sheets became their new target.

#7: OCD

Your Dog Is Suffering From OCD

Wait, does your dog lick your pillow every day? Even your sheets and blanket? And do they do it for so long until it’s drenched with their drool?

If the behavior is excessive, it might be OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Yes, you’ve heard it right. Dogs may have it too. And experts say that it’s similar to its counterpart in humans.

It’s having an overwhelming urge to do something over and over again. It’s consistent, and dogs who have this can’t seem to control it. 

In your situation, your pooch licks your cushion repeatedly. It might be because they’re so anxious when you leave. Or it can also be that their stressors are still around them.

All dogs can get this. That means, it doesn’t matter whether they’re young or old, a girl or a boy. But, the behavior might be different for every breed.

It’s reported that Bull Terriers may chase their tail and spin for hours. While Dobermans may lick and chew their foot until it’s wounded.

This might’ve started as anxiety at first. Then it became too much, which even worsened their fears, and affected their quality of life.

#8: Your dog has an allergy

Alright, let’s move on to the medical reasons.

Does your dog often lick their bodies too? Like their legs or toes? If so, they might have an allergy.

They might also lick or bite your pillow as their way of dealing with itch or pain. Because as mentioned before, the action helps reduce stress in dogs.

The causes of allergies can be anywhere. It can be in the air like pollens, danders, or dust. Or a reaction to a certain food. And oh, even fleas.

#9: Nausea

If dogs are sickly and feel dizzy, they’ll also tend to stick their tongue on an object. And in your case, it’s your cushion. But some may also do it on floors, doors, or walls.

This can be caused by allergies, parasites, or stomach issues. It can also be a sign of vomiting. So, you may consider getting those cleaning tools quick.

Reading tip: Why Does My Dog Lick The Floor? 7 Questions + 7 Tips

#10: Gastrointestinal issues

Excessive licking is also linked to problems in the stomach and the intestines.

Research shows that 14 out of 19 dogs with licking behavior have this condition.

Due to parasites, bacteria, or viruses, both of those organs will swell. It’ll be hard to detect it on your own as the symptoms can be similar to many illnesses.

But here are the other signs you should look out for:

  • Fever.
  • Gagging.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Lethargy.
  • Vomiting.
  • Dry heaving.
  • Pain in the abdomen.

#10: It’s a habit

So, you’ve crossed out all things related to behavior and health. And you think your dog seems to be doing it for something else.

If they do, it’s also likely that it’s a habit. If they’re a pup, it’s only normal. As puppies use their tongues to explore their surroundings. 

But if you have an adult dog, they might’ve developed the habit since they’re young.

You might’ve also given them attention whenever they do it. That’s why they could be thinking that you like it when they lick your pillow.

#12: Your dog is just hungry or thirsty

“Barking isn’t working right now.

Hmm. What should I do to tell them I’m…”

Ohh, it’s mealtime. And you’re still in the bedroom working on something.

Then you see wet spots on your pillow and bed. Your dog has been chewing on them like it’s food. What could they be telling you?

Yes, they might be hungry or thirsty. It can also be a way of telling you to feed them. It can happen when their bowl is empty, with no water. Or just because they get famished so easily.

#13: There are food crumbs

Your Dog Eats The Food Crumbs In Your Bed

So your dog is healthy and doesn’t seem anxious. They’ve also been fed, and there’s water in their bowl, but they keep on coming back on your stuff.

What could it be?

Hmm. It might be because there’s actually food there. And your dog enjoys getting those crumbs on your bed.

There might’ve been traces of snacks on your pillows, and blanket, due to last night’s Netflix marathon.

7 tips on how to stop your dog from licking your pillow

#1: Get help from experts

There are many reasons for this behavior, as stated above. And you might not know how and where to start. Because how can you cross out the least possible ones from the list?

Well, you can do it by visiting a vet first. By doing this, your dog will have a proper check-up. And if it’s due to health issues, they’ll get medications or treatments. 

But if it’s not a medical problem, you can switch to training or behavior modifications. If it becomes out of hand, you may need to ask a dog behaviorist to help you along the way.

#2: Keep your home stress-free

If the behavior is due to anxiety, you must first create a calming environment for your dog.

It’s important to keep their stress levels as low as possible. And how can you do that?

Just do your best to eliminate all stressors in the house. But first, you need to know all the things that make your dog so nervous. Observe them and notice any changes in their behavior.

If they’re wary of people outside, you can cover the windows with curtains. 

You should also avoid blasting off loud sounds. Keep it quiet as much as possible. But you can play some music created to soothe anxious dogs.

If they don’t like other dogs or pets, separate them for a few weeks. Let them know the presence of each other. But keep a safe distance where they’re not bothered at all.

Note: If they’re still jumpy, you may try spraying pheromones around the house. It doesn’t work on health problems, but it may calm their nerves.

#3: Modify your dog’s behavior

Now, you must help them overcome their fears. It’s the next step after you’ve made sure that they feel safer in their surroundings.

Stick to a routine

It would help if you make your dog’s life predictable. In that way, they’ll realize that they don’t have to worry about their basic needs like food. And that they can just trust you with it.

It’s easy to make a schedule. Just make sure you’ve included everything from feeding time up to training sessions. And it should work best for you.

Be consistent

Besides having a daily routine, it’ll also help them avoid giving them any confusion. Like when you’ve let them do things before, then change your mind all of a sudden.

It’ll put them in an awkward situation which causes stress. But if they really need to stop doing it, don’t scold them. Just shift their focus to something better like doing puzzles or tricks.

Fight separation anxiety

Before going out, you should take your dog out for a walk. Tire them physically. 

Then, make them occupied by puzzles, which will turn on the calming button in their brains. It’ll help them forget about being nervous.

While getting ready, try your best not to get caught. Be invisible for them as much as possible. 

Prepare your things beforehand. Change your routine for a bit. Leave them some natural bones or chew toys with their favorite treat. This will keep them entertained for the rest of the day.

Also, avoid showing too much emotion. Don’t be so anxious before going out. Avoid getting excited upon coming home. Be as calm as you can. 

Ignore them for a while when you get back until they’ve settled down. Getting so hyped up will only make them think that it’s a big deal. And they’ll feel jumpy again.

Note: Dogs are clever and they pick up things easily. They might notice your plan so be careful. 🙂

#4: Train them to “leave it”

If it became a habit, or it’s a behavior learned in the wrong way, you can counter it by doing this.

  1. Prepare small pieces of treats.
  2. Now, whenever you see them going for your pillow, quickly get their attention by showing a treat in your hand.
  3. If they turned around and stopped, say “leave it.” And give your dog the treat immediately. Also, give them verbal praises like “good boy/girl”. Always say it in a high-pitched voice. It’ll make them excited.
  4. Then do this until they seem to have a grasp of it.
  5. If they’ve learned how to do it, remove the treats from the rewards. Do this gradually as you train.

Also, don’t scold them for not listening to you at first. Be calm. That’ll only make it harder for you to teach them.

Note: You’ll need many of these in the process: patience, understanding, and treats. But don’t give up. Yummy snacks work wonders!

#5: Help them release that energy

A dog that’s bored and with no stimulation will do other things that you may not like. And one of the simple ways to prevent that is by giving them enough exercise every day.

The amount and intensity will vary in every dog. But they’ll surely enjoy more frequent walks and playtime outside. 

Since the behavior also has something to do with the mind, it’s best if you could also tire them out mentally. You can teach them some commands every day. Like “sit” or “come.” 

Achieving something daily will have good effects on their mental state. Also, giving them the right amount of attention will make them feel secure and worry less.

If you’re not always there, you can give them puzzles or toys to keep them busy. This’ll sharpen and calm their minds at the same time.

Note: They might feel nervous in a different place or seeing other people. So, remember to observe their body language.

#6: Keep them clean and comfy

If they have allergies, it’s best if you would prevent them from getting into your dog.

After going outside, always clean your dog’s paws and fur. You can do that by preparing a cloth soaked in warm water. 

Or by using alcohol-free wipes made for doggies if you’re in a hurry. In this way, you’ll get rid of any allergens stuck in their body.

But if they’re itching somewhere, you must switch to a hypoallergenic shampoo. You can also consult your vet for some antihistamines.

#7: Change their diet

Allergies can also come from food. And according to VCA, here are the common ones for dogs:

  • Soy.
  • Beef.
  • Lamb.
  • Gluten.
  • Chicken.
  • Chicken eggs.

If you’ve given them a particular food the past few days, you may stop giving it for a while. And see how your dog would react.

It’s not easy to pinpoint the causes of their allergy. So you may need to have your dog checked by a vet. This will help you learn more about their current situation. And know the right things to do.

Aside from diet, you may also need to adjust their meals if they’re getting hungry most of the time. If you feed them heavy meals twice a day, you may do it thrice but with smaller portions.

Also, take note of when they usually lick your pillow to let you know that they’re hungry. If it’s mainly in the afternoon, you can adjust their feeding time based on it.