9 Reasons Why Dogs Nibble on Blankets
Dogs like putting things in their mouths, all the time.
It could be a chewing toy, a shoe, or a blanket in this case.
The reason why dogs nibble on blankets is that it soothes them which is fine if they are not tearing the blanket and creating a potential choking hazard by swallowing large pieces.
So, if you wish to learn all the reasons why dogs nibble on blankets and how to stop them, read on.
Trying to get your attention
Dogs instinctively want to chew and blankets provide a great source of stimulation. Your dog might be trying to grab your attention by nipping on a blanket.
This could be a sign that your dog is seeking affection or food, or perhaps they are begging for something.
A friend of mine had a dog that would start nibbling on a blanket each time they needed to go outside and potty.
It is funny how they made this totally okay and didn’t even bother to train their dog to go to the door and alert them about potty time.
It doesn’t matter what the situation is, it is important to be positive and give your dog what they need so that they don’t become bored or anxious again.
Bored and need something to do
Dogs will often start to nibble their blanket if they are bored.
Some dogs are more active than others and it is impossible to keep up with their exercise needs.
You could take your dog out for a two-hour walk only to come home and find out that your dog is still bored and chewing the blanket.
But in their mind is it like Oh great, I have another thing to play with.
I mean, it is okay for dogs to chew on their toys, why not their blankets?
If you do not mind them nibbling on their blanket, let them be.
You can also try and grab the blanket slowly and see their reaction.
If the dog doesn’t growl or do anything slightly aggressive then it is just a play to them.
The blanket smells like you
Your dog might be nibbling on the blanket because it smells like you.
How beautiful this is.
Dogs are truly wonderful creatures that have unreserved love for their pet parents.
If the blanket that your dog is nibbling on belongs to you, or you have simply laid on it, it might become your dog’s favorite blanket.
Imagine having a blanket that smells like someone you are in love with.
Of course, you are going to be all over it, cuddling with it, and hugging it.
Dogs go one step further and they nibble on blankets that smell like their parents.
Teething is painful and uncomfortable for puppies.
Comfort and relief for teething discomfort can often be found in dogs when they eat soft objects such as blankets or stuffed animals.
Chewing can soothe their gums, and help release the pressure from new teeth eruptions.
However, teething lasts till six or seven months of age and after that, the dog should not chew or nibble on things.
So, if your dog is older than that, it could still have something to do with teething.
During their teething process, they were probably chewing on everything, but you didn’t bother to retrain them after they were done with the teething.
Now is the perfect time to slowly train your dog not to chew or nibble on things because it is a bad habit.
You might have accidentally encouraged this behavior
If you find nibbling on blankets cute and you rewarded this behavior, you have yourself a nibbler for life.
Dogs associate approved behavior with treats.
If they are doing something, and you reward them, they are going to associate that task with positive behavior and will not stop until told otherwise.
So, what started as an act of boredom could quickly turn into a quick treat trick for them.
Again, if you are okay with this behavior, it is totally fine.
Just make sure that the blanket doesn’t have any loose ends that the dog might swallow.
Seeking calming influence
Dogs nibble on blankets in order to seek a calming influence.
Nipping and mouthing is an instinctual behavior for canines, often seen as signs of submission between dogs in the same pack.
The act of nipping a blanket or another dog’s fur helps the animal feel secure and connected to their environment.
It also serves as a way for the pup to bond with other members of its pack.
In multi-dog households, this kind of behavior can be used as a sign of respect between two pups and helps create strong relationships among them.
This bonding activity is also comforting for both dogs, creating trust and companionship within the family unit.
It likes the taste and texture
Dogs will nibble on blankets simply because they like the taste and texture.
Have you seen kids nibbling on their sleeves? This is the same thing.
I also have to stop associating children’s behavior with dogs, but they do so many things the same and as a mother and a pet parent, I just can’t help it.
Blankets are soft and might have some fragrance left from when you washed them.
This is an ideal combination and your dog will nibble the blanket simply because it likes the taste and texture.
Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety.
Dogs can feel anxious and stressed when their owners leave the house.
This is because they are being separated from a loved one.
Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways such as barking and chewing or digging.
Dogs can cope with stress by gnawing on blankets.
If the blanket smells familiar to their owners, they may find comfort in the blanket’s texture or scent.
They may feel less scared or lonely if they nibble on the blanket.
Weaned too soon
If your dog hasn’t done any damage to the blanket, then it is not nibbling it, but he is suckling it.
The reason why dogs like to suckle blankets is that they have been separated from their mothers too soon.
Suckling a blanket is a way for your dog to provide a self-comforting experience.
In another word, your dog misses his mother which is pretty normal.
You can go two ways in this situation.
Number one is you provide your dog with its own blanket and pillow to suckle on.
Or, you can start spending more time with your dog or get another dog to keep him company.
In both cases, you have a sad dog on your hands and you have to do something about it.
Training a Dog To Stop Nibbling on Blankets
- Before you start. Keep in mind that dogs enjoy nibbling and chewing on blankets, pillows, and other bedding. You might never get this behavior out completely. With this in mind, proceed to the training tips.
- Determine the cause of nibbling. If your dog is going through teething, you should get them a designated chewing toy. Teething is a painful process and chewing on things provides them comfort. You can freeze the chewing toy before giving it to your dog to soothe its pain.
- Spray the blanket or pillow with apple cider vinegar. Dogs do not like bitter taste and most of them will stop nibbling and chewing. Keep in mind that when the smell is gone, the nibbling might continue.
- Place the blanket on the dog’s bed. The nibbling has to do with the item but also with the location. If your dog is out there in the middle of the room nibbling and you are not doing anything, the next thing they might nibble is the couch. So, take the blanket and the pillow and place them in their bed. At least you are signaling to your dog about where he can’t nibble.
- Provide a suitable chewing toy. Chewing toys were designed for that purpose and they were built with more durable materials than a blanket. By providing a suitable replacement, the dog will quickly learn what is acceptable to chew and nibble and what is not.
- Teach them the ”leave it” command. The leave it command can be used for anything that you do not want your dog to take. When they start nibbling the blanket, simply tell them to leave it and slowly take the blanket out of their mouth. If no protest is shown, reward with a treat.
- If things get out of hand, take away the blanket or pillow. This is for their own safety and they might protest at first, but do not give them the blanket or pillow back.
Dogs like to nibble on things and it is a part of their DNA.
If we can not make them stop nibbling, at least we can give them appropriate things to nibble on.
As a replacement for the blankets and pillows, get your dog a chewing toy.