The Surprising Reasons Why Dogs Lick Their Beds (And What it Means)

Have you ever caught your furry friend giving their bed a good tongue bath? You might be wondering, “Why do dogs lick their beds?” While it seems strange to us, licking their beds is a natural behavior for dogs, and it can stem from several different instincts.

Understanding the Instinctual Behaviors of Dogs

Dogs are descended from wolves, and their behavior is still influenced by their wild ancestors. Here’s a deeper dive into why licking might be a normal part of your dog’s routine:

  • Dog Behavior & Canine Instincts: In the wild, wolves and other canines lick their dens to keep them clean and free of parasites. This natural instinct to keep their sleeping area tidy carries over to domesticated dogs and their beds. Think of it as their way of “making the bed” in the wild!
  • Dog Psychology & Dog Body Language: Licking can also be a calming behavior for dogs. Repetitive licking can be a way for them to self-soothe, similar to how humans might chew their nails when feeling anxious. It’s a way to manage their emotions and find comfort.

The Hygiene Factor: Keeping Their Sleeping Area Clean

Dogs might lick their beds simply to groom them. They can’t exactly grab a washcloth and some soap, so licking is their way of removing dirt, fur, or anything else they find on their bedding. Consider it their built-in cleaning tool!

Soothing Anxiety and Stress Through Licking

Just like humans, dogs can feel stressed or anxious. Licking their beds can be a way for them to self-soothe and relieve those feelings. If you notice your dog licking excessively during thunderstorms, fireworks, or when left alone for long periods, it could be a sign of anxiety.

Marking Territory and Claiming Their Space

Dogs have scent glands in their paws and tongues. By licking their bed, they might be leaving their scent on it, marking it as their own territory. This is a natural behavior, especially for new pets or those feeling insecure. It’s their way of saying, “This is my comfy spot!”

When Licking Becomes Excessive: Addressing Underlying Issues

Sometimes, excessive licking can be a sign of an underlying medical issue. If your dog is licking their bed to the point of creating bald patches or sores, it’s important to consult your veterinarian to rule out any allergies, skin irritations, or other health problems. Remember, a healthy dog is a happy (and less likely to lick excessively) dog!

Embracing Your Dog’s Licking Behaviors with Understanding

Now that you know the reasons behind your dog’s bed-licking habits, you can approach the situation with more understanding. Here are some tips:

  • Provide Plenty of Enrichment: If your dog licks out of boredom, provide them with chew toys, puzzle feeders, or more playtime to keep them mentally stimulated. A tired dog is less likely to be a compulsive licker!
  • Address Anxiety: If you suspect your dog licks due to anxiety, talk to your vet about ways to manage their stress, like calming pheromones or behavior modification techniques. Helping them feel secure can reduce the need for self-soothing behaviors.
  • Keep Their Bed Clean: Regularly wash your dog’s bed to remove any dirt or allergens that might trigger licking. A clean bed is a less tempting target!
  • Offer Alternatives: Provide your dog with other things to lick, like a specially designed lick mat spread with some peanut butter or yogurt. This can give them a satisfying licking experience in a controlled way.

By understanding why your dog licks their bed, you can create a more comfortable and stress-free environment for them.

FAQ: Dog Bed Licking Decoded

Is licking their bed bad for my dog?

In most cases, occasional licking is a normal behavior. However, excessive licking can be a sign of boredom, anxiety, or a medical condition.

Should I stop my dog from licking their bed?

If the licking seems moderate and doesn’t cause any harm, you don’t necessarily need to stop it. However, if it’s excessive, redirect them with a chew toy or address any underlying issues like boredom or anxiety.

Can licking their bed make my dog sick?

If the bed is dirty or contains harmful chemicals, licking it could make your dog sick. Regularly wash your dog’s bed and use safe cleaning products.

My dog licks their bed and then eats the fabric! What should I do?

This could be a sign of compulsive behavior or a nutritional deficiency. Consult your veterinarian to rule out any medical causes and discuss ways to manage the behavior.