If you are like a lot of dog owners, you may have noticed your pup chewing or 'sucking' on his or her blanket. While this is not an extremely uncommon behavior in dogs, it is one of the more odd habits you may have noticed. As with many bizarre tendencies in the canine world, blanket chewing is often seen more in certain breeds. Among those more prone to chewing their bedding are Dobermans, Border Collies, Daschunds, Spaniels, and some Terrier breeds. This is not to say that blanket chewing won't be exhibited by other breeds. Either way, this leaves one very important question in the matter. Why do dogs chew their blankets?
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The Root of the Behavior
Most canine experts are in agreement as to the top reason behind dogs chewing or sucking their blankets and bedding. The majority of dogs who exhibit this behavior were prematurely weaned from their mothers. Since their biological instinct to suckle has been rejected, your pup may have developed the habit to chew and suckle on other objects, including their blankets and bedding. This would be an obvious choice due to the soft, cuddliness of a blanket. Another instinct that can be a driving force behind your pup chewing on his or her blanket is teething. Just like with human children, your fur baby will lose their infant teeth to make room for the permanent adult ones. Also, like in humans, this can be a painful process. Again, having their comfy blanket to chew on can bring a bit of relief.
If your dog is older and seems to have developed the blanket chewing habit, he or she could be suffering from separation anxiety. When your pup is home alone all day, they can become stressed and look for some way to alleviate their tension. If you notice that the chewing is accompanied by whining, barking, pacing, or general restlessness, this could most likely be what is to blame. There are many ways to help treat and remedy separation anxiety if this is found to be the case. Hunger is another consideration when you notice that your pup has started chewing on blankets or bedding. This doesn't mean that you are not feeding your dog enough. Sometimes dogs are put on a more calorie restrictive diet. In these cases, it may be that your pooch looks for other things to chew on in search of nutrition. Even if your dog is getting the right amount of nutrition required, he or she may feel hungry when their daily caloric intake changes.
Encouraging the Behavior
Chewing is a completely normal behavior in dogs. If what your pup decides to chew on becomes an issue, there are ways to help break the habit. One suggestion from experts is to make sure you provide your pup with plenty of chew toys. Having something that is specifically for their chewing may help deter your dog from chewing on other items. If your puppy is teething, there are special chew toys made just for that. Another option is to spray your pup's blankets and bedding with a chew deterrent. Sprays containing things such as bitter apple and bitter cherry are available at most pet stores. There are also all natural DIY options for making your own bitter chew deterrent spray. If you are unsure, talk with your veterinarian about what they recommend and what is safe for your pet.
One important thing you can do to help alleviate chewing is to make sure your pooch is getting enough exercise. Especially if it seems like their blanket chewing ways are due to plain old boredom. It is also a good idea to mix it up so that your dog has playtime with you as well as other dogs if at all possible. Getting in this playtime before and after your dog will be left home alone can cut down on the risk of undesired chewing.
Other Solutions and Considerations
As a last resort, some experts advise that you completely take away any blankets your pup is chewing. This is usually the case if it seems your dog is found to be a chronic blanket chewer. It is the belief of these experts that, although we may prefer it, giving your dog blankets to sleep on is not essential to your dog's quality of life. Further, these particular experts feel blankets may, in fact, be more harmful than comforting. We are not only our dog's pack leader, we are also their guardians. In this important role it is up to us to determine what is safe and what is not where our fur babies are concerned.
Even if you decide to take your pup's blankets out of the picture they still have you to cuddle up with at nap time. Just make sure that if you decide to break their chewing habit you always use more pawsitive methods. In the end, a safe pup is going to be a happy pup.