The verdict is in: Dogs make our lives better in every possible way! Alright, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but a pet dog will certainly enrich your life.
After all, dogs provide us with fellowship, make us laugh, and help us to live more active lives. Dogs also lead by example with their loyalty and help us teach our kids about responsibility.
Sometimes though, dogs are just strange. Have you ever seen a dog that’s afraid of brooms? Or a dog that prefers to eat at night? If your dog is exhibiting strange behavior like these examples, it’s important to make sure that it isn’t a sign of your dog having a medical or behavioral problem.
To return the favor of dogs enriching our lives so much, we need to look into anything strange and make sure our pooches are okay. Of course, most of the time our dogs are just being weird, silly, and lovable. Yet, you wouldn’t want to be that dog owner who ignored all the signs of your buddy’s distress! Be sure to take the time to understand all of your dog’s weird behaviors.
So, what about dogs that lick pillows? Why does my dog lick my pillow? Ultimately, there is no single answer to why dogs lick pillows – it could be one or a combination of these several different factors.
- Anxiety, including separation anxiety
- Territory marking
- Getting your attention
- Seeking comfort
- Something learned from other dogs
- Your pillow smells and tastes good
- Learning about her environment
- You trained her to
- A nutritional deficiency
- You’re leaving crumbs in bed
- Saying Hi
The sweetest reason your dog is licking your pillow is that she loves you and sees the pillow as an extension of you. It probably has your scent on it, and to your dog, that’s like a big hug from you. Dogs often show their affection by licking their owners’ faces, so it stands to reason that they would also lick something that smells like you.
There’s also the possibility that your dog is licking the pillow because she’s anxious. Some dogs will lick themselves excessively when they’re anxious as a way to self-soothe. This behavior is also seen in dogs with separation anxiety – they become stressed when their owner leaves them alone and will try to comfort themselves by licking things that smell like their owner.
Even the best-trained dogs can sometimes struggle to fight their instincts, and marking territory can be a big instinct for some good boys and girls.
Your dog might lick your pillow because she’s trying to mark her territory. Dogs have a strong sense of smell and sometimes use it to determine what thing or person ‘belongs’ to what dog. Your dog will naturally want to make sure you belong to her so she may lick you and your things as a way of claiming you as her own. This behavior is more common in male dogs, but any dog might do it.
Getting Your Attention
It’s also possible that your dog is licking the pillow because she wants your attention. Dogs are very smart and know that we respond to their behaviors – if they do something we don’t like, we’ll scold them, and if they do something we do like, we’ll praise them. So, if your dog knows that you’ll give her positive attention when she licks your pillow, she’s likely to do it more often.
Looking For Comfort
Your dog could also be licking the pillow because she’s seeking comfort. Some dogs will lick their owner’s faces when they’re feeling sad or scared. Your dog likely sees you and possibly your pillow as a source of comfort and is trying to find reassurance from it.
Dogs can get stressed for a lot of different reasons – changes in the home environment, new people or animals in the home, loud noises, etc. When dogs are stressed, they may engage in self-soothing behaviors like excessively licking your pillow.
Try to think about any changes in your dog’s life. Things that you might not think are a big deal could cause your dog a great deal of stress and lead to some odd behaviors.
If your dog is simply bored she will be looking for something to do. If your dog doesn’t have enough physical and mental stimulation, she may start engaging in destructive behaviors like chewing or digging. Licking the pillow is a less destructive way of dealing with boredom, but it’s still a symptom of a problem that you’ll need to address.
Other Dogs Taught Her
Dogs pick up what other dogs do. If your dog has been around another dog that licks pillows your dog may have learned this behavior from watching her buddy. If you have multiple dogs in your home, one of them may have started licking the pillow for a legitimate reason and the others followed suit.
When we adopted our dog Bella, she hadn’t been trained to understand any commands. But she is a smart girl and started mimicking what our other dog did when we told him things. It wasn’t long until she had basically trained herself!
Even though that was years ago, I’m still impressed that she was ambitious and smart enough to train herself. Maybe I’m probably giving her too much credit…but I’m still impressed!
Your Pillow Tastes Good!
Your dog could like the way your pillow smells or tastes. Some dogs are attracted to the smell of laundry detergent or fabric softener, so they may start licking the pillow in an attempt to get more of these smells. Other dogs like the taste of human sweat, so they may lick the pillow as a way to get more of this flavor.
Learning about their environment
Dogs use their noses and mouths to explore the world around them, so it’s not surprising that they would lick an object that’s new or unfamiliar to them. If you’ve recently moved to a new house or gotten a new pillow, your dog may be trying to learn more about it by licking it.
Pica, the consumption of non-food items, can be a sign of nutritional deficiency. If your dog is only licking the pillow and not consuming it, she may be deficient in a certain nutrient. She’ll try to satisfy his craving by licking the pillow. Check the food you’re giving your good girl to make sure she’s getting everything she needs for a healthy diet.
Crumbs In The Bed
Admit it! Do you eat in bed? There’s a good reason your parents told you not to! Jokes aside…dogs are attracted to the smell of food, so it’s not surprising that they would be interested in a pillow that has crumbs on it. If your dog is licking the pillow because it had food on it, vacuuming might not be enough. You’ll probably need to wash the pillow to remove the scent.
Some dogs will lick their owner’s face, sheets, feet, or anything else they can as a way to say “hello” in the morning. If your dog licks your pillow in the morning, he may be just trying to greet you.
You Trained Her
Last, it’s possible that you accidentally trained your dog to lick the pillow. If you’ve ever given your dog positive attention when she’s licked the pillow, you’ve inadvertently reinforced this behavior. Dogs learn very quickly when they are getting the good stuff (pets, ‘good girls’, and ear scratches!). If you’ve done these things when your dog licked the pillow, so it’s not surprising that she’s continuing to lick your pillow in an attempt to get more of that love from you.
Why Is My Dog Suddenly Licking Pillows?
When your dog suddenly changes behavior it can be alarming, and for good reason. Once your dog has grown out of her puppy stage and you’ve come to know her personality, you can usually predict how she’ll act.
If your dog has suddenly started licking pillows and none of the reasons I went over above are the reason why then you need to figure out what has changed.
Has your dog’s diet changed in any way? Even a small change, such as switching from kibble to wet food? While this doesn’t affect all dogs, some have odd reactions. Things like a change in the level of nutrients a dog is getting can make them act strangely. They may begin licking things or even whine or become lethargic.
If you changed your dog’s diet this could be why she suddenly started licking your pillows.
Change In Smells
Your dog might not have noticed the smell of your perfume, scented detergent, or sweat before but if you switched things up, she may decide to investigate. Switching scents might lead to just a few pillow licks as your dog understands the change or it could be something your dog starts to do frequently. Especially if she enjoys your extra sweat or new cologne!
The scariest reason your dog might suddenly start licking pillows is that there’s a medical issue causing it. If your dog has never done this before and there is absolutely nothing else you can think that is causing the behavior you may want to call your vet. Personally, I’d also note other clues that something is wrong so I could give that information to the vet as well.
Is It Okay For Dogs To Lick Pillows?
While dogs licking pillows may seem strange to humans, it’s usually nothing to worry about. As long as the dog isn’t bothering you, the behavior isn’t destructive, and it isn’t a sign of a medical issue, there’s no reason to stop your good girl from licking pillows. In fact, some people even find it cute!
How To Stop My Dog Licking My Pillow?
Even though it’s probably harmless, a lot of people (me included!) don’t want their dogs to lick their pillows. Fortunately, there are some good ways to teach your good girl not to. Of course, you’ll need to figure out why she’s licking your pillow in the first place. This will help you formulate your plan of attack.
The commands you taught your dog for basic obedience, like ‘no’ and ‘leave it’, can also be useful for getting your dog to stop licking your pillow. If you find your dog licking your pillow, simply say ‘no’ or ‘leave it’ in a firm voice.
If your dog doesn’t respond, you may need to say it louder or use hand gestures to get her attention. Once she stops licking your pillow, be sure to praise her so she knows she’s done the right thing.
Address The Problem
If your dog is licking your pillow due to stress, anxiety, boredom, or something else, you’ll need to address that issue. If your dog is stressed, try removing whatever it is that is stressing her out. If that isn’t possible, doing something like giving her a lot of calming pets over a long period of time could help out. If she’s bored, try giving her some new puzzle toys or taking her on more frequent walks.
Whatever the reason for your dog’s pillow licking, once you’ve addressed the problem, the licking should stop on its own.
Remove Tempting Smells
Whether it’s your new perfume, or laundry detergent, or you’re suddenly extra sweaty at night, if there’s a smell on your pillow that’s tempting your dog to lick it, you’ll need to remove it. This means either switching perfumes, using a different detergent, or taking extra steps to make sure you’re clean and dry before bed.
Keep Your Dog Away
If your dog is pillow licking despite your best efforts to stop her, you may need to keep your dog off your bed or even out of your bedroom. This means closing doors, using baby gates, or crate training your dog when you’re not able to watch her.
Your dog needs to get plenty of both physical and mental exercise every day. Tired dogs are usually good dogs, and a good dog is less likely to engage in unwanted behaviors like licking pillows. Make sure your dog is getting physical exercise every day, and also plenty of mental stimulation.
Talk To Your Vet
If you cannot get your dog to stop licking your pillow no matter what, it is probably time to call in the professionals. They might be able to help you figure out what’s going on and come up with a plan to stop the behavior.
Additionally, as I discussed above, if your dog has never licked your pillow before and suddenly keeps doing it, or if the licking is accompanied by other strange behaviors, it’s always a good idea to talk to your vet. Your dog could have a medical problem.
Summary: Why Do Dogs Lick Pillows?
Dogs licking pillows is a behavior that can be caused by many different things. Some dogs lick pillows as a way to relieve anxiety or stress, while others may lick them because they like the smell or taste. Dogs may also lick pillows as a way to learn about their environment or because they are deficient in certain nutrients. Saying ‘hi’, boredom, and looking for comfort or attention are also known to cause dogs to lick pillows.
If your dog is licking the pillow, it’s important to figure out why she’s doing it. Once you know the reason, you can take steps to address the underlying issue and stop the behavior. If you’re unsure why your dog is licking the pillow, you might need to consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist. They’ll be able to help you figure out why your dog is licking the pillow and how to stop the behavior.