Why Does My Dog Lick My Pillow?

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 header

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.

You should know that your dog licks something because he enjoys the taste, or 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 salt !
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.

sleeping fido

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. As opposed to just lay on the carpet, 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!

  • Many times this can happen out of boredom; so 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.

Related Questions

Why do dogs lick you before bed? There are a couple of different reasons for this behavior. One of the most common reasons is that it reminds them of when they were puppies. Puppies are licked incessantly by their mothers. If they are licking you then it is most likely a sign that they are treating you like their mother treated them.

They just want you to know that they love you. They want to clean you and make sure you stay healthy. It’s perfectly natural and you should only try to fight it if it becomes excessive. You can always have too much of a good thing – including puppy love.

Why does my dog lick me in the morning? This is another behavior that can be traced back to their puppy days. It’s also a common behavior for dogs in the wild. Pups will lick their mother’s mouths as a form of social bonding and grooming. It is also used by adult dogs as a way to apologize. They could also just be doing it as a submissive act to let you know that you are the alpha – at least to them.

It could also be that they just like the way you taste. Human skin gives off all kinds of sweat and oil when we sleep and it’s something a dog can like the taste of. You might even have traces of food on your face they want to get to. Or maybe they just want to give you a “good morning” kiss.

Are dog licks dangerous? Dog saliva isn’t a health risk for healthy children and adults. At least not for intact skin. What can be a health risk is letting your dog lick at open wounds. They may be naturally inclined to, but their saliva can keep a human wound open and moist, letting bacteria thrive and potentially causing an infection.

The CDC receives several reports each year of people getting sick from bacteria in dog saliva. The main culprit in those cases is the bacteria Capnocytophaga canimorsus. It can be found in dog and cat saliva and, while harmless to them, isn’t so harmless to humans.

Should you let your dog sleep with you? While there are some potential downsides to letting your dog sleep with you (such as behavioral problems and trouble establishing dominance) research suggests that co-sleeping only highlights existing problems. It doesn’t cause them. If your dog is very territorial they will growl and bark to protect their spot on your bed, but that’s not a problem caused by co-sleeping.

For the average well-adjusted dog sharing a bed with you isn’t likely to do anything but make them happy. It actually offers some benefits. Both of you will feel more comfortable and enjoy a deeper sense of companionship. If your dog is presenting problematic behavior from sleeping together, talk to a behavioral expert to determine the root cause. There’s nothing inherently wrong with letting your dog sleep with you though.

Can I get giardia from my dog? All pets, including dogs, have the potential to host parasitic worms and single-celled parasites that they can pass on to their humans. The good news is that infection from dogs isn’t too likely. The bed news is that giardia is one of the exceptions to that rule.

Giardia is an immediately infective parasite. It doesn’t need to mature or incubate before it can be passed on. As such, it is possible, although unlikely, for a dog to pass on the parasite through licking. Be careful with your dogs to avoid infection.

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