Understanding the meaning and causes behind some of your puppy’s most common behaviors is crucial for building a strong relationship. If you want to create a stronger bond with your pup, you need to decipher his body language accordingly. Some of the most recognizable behaviors of this kind are the ripping, tearing, biting, and chewing of blankets. In shorter terms... the blanket attack. Some would say it is merely part of being a puppy even though others may blame it on lack of attention. As always, the truth is somewhere in between. Let’s find out more about why dogs attack blankets and what you can do about it.
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The Root of the Behavior
There are several reasons as to why your dog is tearing up their favorite blanket. Starting with the need to burn off excess energy, puppies will “take it out on” their bedtime sheets as an outlet for frustration and boredom. He may attack the blanket because he thinks of it as just another toy that he can thrash around in his mouth. More so, if your pup likes to suck or nibble on the blanket, this could be due to having been weaned too early. Puppies should not be weaned from their mother's milk until after they are seven or eight weeks old. Much like thumb sucking in small children, a dog’s fabric sucking behavior is a self-soothing mechanism that can be replaced with inedible chew bones or any other type of toys that keep him chewing for long periods of time.
It could also be that your pup is undergoing a long and uncomfortable teething process that usually lasts from 6 weeks to a full-year-old. It’s the time when they take comfort in compulsively chewing whatever they can get their paws on, including their favorite blanket. Most of all, dogs are curious by nature and feel the need to explore the surrounding environment as much as they can. Naturally, one of his most useful tools for understanding the world around him is his mouth. So, he will use it to bite and chew, regardless of whether they enjoy the taste of it or not. If he keeps attacking his blanket, it may simply be because he finds it interesting. Another reason that keeps them plunging at their blankets is separation anxiety. As pack members, dogs hate it when they’re being left alone. If your puppy only attacks his blanket when you're away, anxiety could very well be the reason behind the behavior.
Encouraging the Behavior
The first thing that comes to mind would be to keep your pup away from your pillows and blankets. But then you need to work on the underlying issue and that is usually just boredom. Devoting more time to walking and playing with your pup may limit his desire to attack the blanket or any other household items for that matter. Make sure he is in good health and that he is receiving an adequate amount of exercise, playtime, and interaction with you. Mental stimulation is also important as it will relieve his anxiety and turn his attention to more useful activities.
Furthermore, if your puppy is suffering from teething pain, give him something better to chew on instead, such as a frozen wet washcloth or an edible chew, like a rawhide bone. It is ideal to introduce something new into his playtime activities and rotate your dog’s chew toys every couple of days so that he does not get bored. Soft, plush dog toys are encouraged, as opposed to harder ones. If you suspect that your puppy is suffering from separation anxiety, don’t punish your doggie by taking away the blanket, instead, teach him that being alone isn't something to fear.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Depending on the cause of the behavior, you could also try to do a little experiment. While you are away from home, leave your dog in a room where there are no blankets and pillows or anything else of value. Instead, make sure he has access to all of his favorite toys and treats, but cannot cause any damage to the area. While it’s possible he may “attack” some of his other toys, he will also look for new ways to entertain himself and forget about the blanket altogether. If you think the situation is due to anxiety and stress, you could also contact a trainer or behaviorist for help.
Whether your pup is not getting enough physical and mental stimulation or he’s having teething pains, you are the only one who can help break the habit. Attacking the blanket may just be a sign of an underlying issue, so it’s best if you address the real problem before you consider taking the blanket away from him. Once you understand these behaviors, you will be able to rightfully stop the “attacks” from taking place.