If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably seen it (especially if your pooch sleeps in your bed).
That large damp spot on your pillow might leave you wondering: why does my dog lick my pillow?
Why Does My Dog Lick My Pillow ?
Dogs lick pillows because they like the salty taste of dead skin cells, sweat, or hair left by humans. They’re also attracted by the scent of their owner and seek comfort in their pillows. Excessive or compulsive licking, however, could be a way of coping with anxiety or discomfort.
Why Do Dogs Lick Anything?
To answer this question well, ‘why do dogs lick pillows’, you’ll first need to understand why our canine companions lick anything. Or, more specifically, why do dogs use their tongues so much? After all, humans don’t lick absolutely everything they come across!
Unlike people, our four-legged friends don’t have ‘hands,’ as in they can’t pick things up with their hands. Instead, they pick up, hold onto and carry everything with their mouths.
They might lick something because they enjoy the taste, out of nervousness/anxiety, or for social reasons. A dog’s tongue is much longer than a human’s. Therefore, licking is a strong part of their behavior.
They Like the ‘Leftovers’
It probably doesn’t seem very appealing to you, but human hair, skin, and sweat are naturally salty. And of course, our canine companions like salty things!
Many behaviorists say this is one reason why dogs lick us (humans), but we still aren’t 100 percent sure. It could be simply because it feels good, it could be a submissive activity, or maybe it’s just their way of saying ‘hello’.
Why Your Pup is Probably Licking Your Pillow
We leave dead skin cells on our pillow, our bed sheets, and pretty much anything we touch and especially when we sleep. This is all too small for humans to notice, and most of us never give it a second thought (nor would we want to).
However, to a dog’s insanely powerful nose, almost nothing escapes their notice!
While you’re away, your pooch is probably still thinking about you, maybe even wondering how to get ‘close’ to you again. Things that smell like you might provide comfort, like your clothes, your bed sheets, your shoes, and- your pillow! In short, your scent makes your four-legged friend feel a sense of safety and security.
How to Get Your Pet to Stop Licking the Pillow
If your pup is indeed licking your pillow to get a taste of ‘you,’ you can offer a simple, light correction immediately every time you see him begin to do this. Eventually, your pup will make the association between your corrections and the licking.
Even though your canine companion will still be able to smell you even after one night of sleep, you might want to consider washing your pillow.
It isn’t necessarily ‘dirty’ or unsanitary, but a wash could, at the very least relieve your worries!
Keep in mind that it’s always best to begin correcting this behavior early on before it becomes a habit.
What About Compulsive Behaviors?
The reasons listed above are why ‘most’ dogs would lick our pillows. That being said, our canine companions also sometimes lick excessively as a way of coping with anxiety or discomfort. Some pets might run back and forth when they are anxious; some might focus on something to chew, some even chew their own tails or nibble on their legs, and then some lick themselves- nonstop.
If your pooch suffers from constant anxiety, these behaviors can become even worse, turning into compulsive behaviors. This means your pet might start to do them all the time, every day, often even when they aren’t anxious at all.
Believe it or not, our four-legged friends can develop cases of OCD, similarly to humans! You always want to try and cure or minimize a behavioral problem before this happens.
What Can You Do?
Under-stimulation can also contribute toward these unusual behaviors, and poor socialization can lead to increased anxiety around other people or pets.
Ask yourself when your dog is licking the most, and what (if anything) could be causing him/her to feel uncomfortable.
Instead of trying to train your pup not to lick so much, try to solve the underlying issue that is leading to your pup’s discomfort!
- Give your pet plenty to do. With toys, regular walks, play, outdoor games, and whatever else you can think of, you’ll soon solve your pooch’s boredom problems.
- If it’s anxiety your pet suffers from, find the root cause and tackle that. Especially for compulsive behaviors, this can take some time, so be sure to move slowly and use positive inspiration.
- If your pup suffers from social anxiety, your answers could be as simple as encouraging positive, happy and fun social contact for a puppy. Older dogs with poor social skills can be more difficult to train, and might require a more careful and gradual method.