Dogs are wonderful pets! They are the perfect mix of happy, loyal, and friendly. Dogs are always happy to see you and love spending time with their owners. I can’t imagine my life without my dogs by my side! In fact, they’re lying next to me as I write this.
With all that wonderfulness though, there are some trade-offs. Some dogs have some really bizarre and gross behaviors. They’ll lick things like concrete, or even worse, eat their own poop. Ew! But even that can’t take away from being the perfect pet.
When you own a dog you need to be prepared for some weirdness and to take the time to learn why your dog is doing something odd. It’s also important to understand if it is okay and how to stop them if you need to.
So, what about licking my bed? Why does my dog lick my bed?
- You mistakenly rewarded the behavior
- They have anxiety
- It’s something to do
- They have OCB
- They are seeking comfort
- They have a medical condition such as Pica
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Your bed tastes good
- They want to be closer to you
- They are gathering information
- You made a mess eating in bed
To figure out which reason or reasons are behind your dog’s licking you’ll need to examine the entire situation to gather other clues. For now, I’ll go deeper into each reason to help you better understand what may be going on with your dog.
We’ll wrap up with some tried and true methods of getting dogs to stop licking the bed.
You Rewarded Your Dog
It likely wasn’t on purpose but in some way, you probably rewarded your dog when he licked the bed. Even worse! If you did it by mistake, you may still be doing it! And now, your dog thinks he’s a good boy for licking your bed.
Think about your behavior around your dog and your bed. Dogs are quick to pick up on rewards and keen to do something that will trigger you to reward them again.
It could easily happen to those of us who have lots of experience with dogs too. Every morning when I begin to stir, my dogs hear me and run over to my side of the bed, happy to greet me for the day and ready to go outside.
I, of course, give them head pats and ear scratches when they greet me. If one of them started licking the bed as they were saying good morning, and I continued petting them they’d think that licking the bed was a good thing and associate it with my loves.
The first part of the solution here is obvious, stop rewarding your dog for licking your bed. Next, use the ‘No’ or ‘Leave It’ commands to teach your dog that you don’t want him licking the bed.
Anxiety is a tough subject for anyone to figure out, including our dogs. Anxiety can manifest itself in many ways and it’s important to remember that not all anxiety is the same. It’s also possible that your dog could have more than one contribution to his anxiety.
Licking the bed can be a way to soothe themselves when they’re anxious but it’s important to get to the root of the problem.
There are many ways to help a dog with anxiety and it may take some trial and error to find what works best for your pup.
Something To Do
Dogs can become bored easily, especially if they’re left alone for a long time. When dogs are bored they often seek out things to do to pass the time and relieve their boredom.
Licking the bed is one of those things.
It’s important to provide your dog with an appropriate outlet for their energy and give them plenty of things to do to keep their minds occupied.
Remember, a tired dog is a good dog!
Obsessive Compulsive Behavior
Speaking of something to do…When dogs are bored and they will do something to ease the boredom as we discussed above.
Sometimes those weird and even destructive behaviors become something they regularly do, even when they aren’t bored anymore.
This is known as Obsessive Compulsive Behavior with dogs and can be time consuming to train them to stop.
Looking For Comfort
There are many reasons a dog may seek comfort. It could be that they’re stressed, in pain, or miss you when you’re gone.
Dogs will often lick their humans as a way to feel comforted and cared for as well as to give comfort and care.
When dogs lick the bed it could be because they associate it with you and the comfort you provide.
There are a few medical conditions that can cause dogs to lick the bed.
Pica is one of those medical conditions that can lead to bed licking.
Pica is when dogs eat things that aren’t food. It could be dirt, rocks, plastic, or in this case fabric. If your dog is trying to eat your bed in some way, you’ll need to stop him immediately.
Fabric, fluffy cotton, or pretty much everything else that beds are made of can cause problems for dogs if they eat it.
If you think your dog may have pica, it’s important to talk to your veterinarian about it.
New Physical Injury
Sometimes dogs suddenly change their behavior when they have a new physical injury.
If your dog just started licking the bed and he’s never done it before, there could be an underlying physical issue causing the behavior.
The first step is always to talk to your veterinarian and get a full examination to rule out any medical problems.
Maybe you changed food, or maybe your dog’s needs changed as he aged. Whatever the reason is, if your dog isn’t getting the proper nutrition he needs he may start licking the bed.
This is because dogs will often seek out alternate sources when they’re not getting what they need from their diet.
Your Bed Is Yummy!
The scent your dryer sheets leave could smell delicious to your dog. Or maybe you don’t wash your bed often enough and it tastes like the salt from your sweat. As you can see there is more than one reason that your bed could taste and smell delicious to your dog.
Your Dog Loves You
Dogs want to spend as much time as possible with their owners and if that isn’t physically possible, they may seek other ways to be close to them.
Licking the bed could be a way for your dog to feel close to you even when you’re not around.
This is even more likely if your dog only licks the bed when you’re gone.
Learning About Who Was In The Bed
If something was different about your sleeping arrangements your dog may lick the bed as a way of trying to figure out what happened.
This could be because you let the kids sleep in your bed, or maybe you brought home a new partner. Or maybe you committed treason by letting the cat sleep in bed with you!
Your dog is trying to understand the situation and may see licking the bed as a way to get information about it.
If you make a habit out of eating in bed, especially something that leaves crumbs, your dog may start to see your bed as a place to get a tasty treat.
A change in routine like this could cause your dog to start licking the bed.
Obviously, licking the bed is incidental, your dog is licking up crumbs that happen to be on the bed.
The solution here is simple, stop eating in bed!
Is It Okay For Dogs To Lick The Bed?
I suppose, that as long as your dog isn’t trying to eat the bed, or in some other way being dangerous or destructive it’s okay for your dog to lick the bed.
Is it okay for you when your dog licks the bed is another question. I would think it was gross if my dogs started licking my bed. I have seen what else they eat and lick and I don’t want any part of that on where I lay my head to sleep.
I guess it is personal preference, but it wouldn’t be okay for my dogs to lick my bed.
How To Stop Dogs From Licking The Bed
Some ways to stop your dog from licking the bed work well for most of the reasons your dog might be licking your bed. Other methods work better or not so well depending on the reason your dog licks your bed.
You’ll need to use your judgment to decide which method will work best for your and your dog’s situation.
‘No’ And ‘Leave It’ Commands
Training your dog to obey both the ‘No’ and ‘Leave it’ commands are two of the most valuable things you can teach your dog. Both of these commands will come in handy in many situations, not just to stop your dog from licking the bed.
Whenever your dog starts licking the bed give the ‘No’ or ‘Leave it’ command by saying it firmly. Remember, there is no reason to shout at your dog if he has been trained to obey these commands.
Give Your Dog More Attention
If you’ve determined your dog is licking your bed because he misses you, then give him more attention when you’re home.
This doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours playing with your dog, but try to include him more in what you’re doing.
If you’re watching TV invite him to lay by your feet or next to you on the couch instead of shutting him out of the room.
Mentally Stimulating Toys
Some dogs need more mental stimulation than other dogs to keep boredom at bay.
If you think this might be the reason your dog is licking your bed, try giving him some mentally stimulating toys to keep his brain busy when you’re gone.
A good example of a mentally stimulating toy is a toy you stuff with treats or kibble. They will keep your dog busy trying to get the food out.
Dogs that don’t get enough exercise are more likely to become bored and destructive. If you think your dog needs more exercise, try adding an extra walk or playtime to his daily routine.
If you work long hours or are gone for extended periods, you may need to hire a dog walker or doggie daycare to make sure your dog is getting enough exercise.
If you think this might be the reason your dog is licking your bed, make sure he is getting enough exercise.
Don’t Let Your Dog In Your Bedroom
If your dog has pica and is targeting your bed, or if for some reason you can not get your dog to stop licking your bed you may need to separate your dog from your bed until you can get professional help.
Whether you shut the door or use a baby gate as a barrier, do something to keep your dog out of the bedroom until you can get professional help.
Talk To Your Vet Or A Dog Trainer
If you’ve tried all of the above methods and your dog is still licking your bed, it may be time to talk to your vet or a professional dog trainer.
Your vet can rule out any medical reasons for your dog’s licking behavior and a dog trainer can help you find other ways to stop your dog from licking the bed.
Don’t Punish Your Dog
Physically punishing a dog for doing something doesn’t work as well as you might think. It can even make your overall living situation unpleasant.
Dogs that are hit or yelled at for licking the bed may become afraid of the bed or even of you. If you’ve been physically punishing your dog for licking the bed, stop immediately.
It’s not doing any good and it could make the problem worse.
Wrapping Up: Why Do Dogs Lick The Bed?
Dogs lick the bed for many different reasons. Boredom, anxiety, attention-seeking, or because they enjoy the taste or smell of their owner’s laundry detergent are all legitimate reasons to a dog.
There could even be a medical issue or a combination of reasons leading to your dog licking the bed.
In most cases, you can stop your dog from licking the bed by giving him more attention, exercise, or mental stimulation. If these methods don’t work, you may need to seek professional help.
Whatever the reason for your dog’s licking behavior, don’t punish him. It won’t work and it could make the problem worse.
If you’re struggling to stop your dog from licking the bed, talk to your vet or a professional dog trainer for help.
The important thing to remember is that you need to break the cycle and train your dog not to lick the bed.
With a little patience and consistency, you can help your dog overcome this undesirable behavior.