Why Does My Dog Lick The Bed?

Small dog lick and nibble owner's pink bed sheets

Dogs participate in licking behavior for various reasons, from boredom to hunger. Your dog might be licking your bed simply because they’re bored, or they might be lacking nutrients or not getting enough food at mealtime. They might also be licking because they feel nauseous, which can be a sign of more serious medical issues.

The rest of the article will go into detail about possible reasons why your dog is licking your bed and what you should do about it.

What Do My Bed Sheets Smell Like?

Your dog might be licking your sheets because they like the smell of them! If you get really sweaty in the summer heat, your scent will be very potent on your sheets, and your dogs like it. 

Dogs are also curious about human pheromones. As dogs communicate through scents, they want to learn more about potent smells. 

Are There Crumbs Left on My Bed Sheets?

If you snack in bed, or let your dog snack on your bed, then your dog might be licking the leftover crumbs. If there are no visible crumbs, then the dog might just be getting the smells from the last time they feasted on your sheets and hoping that they missed some crumbs last time or that there will be more where the previous snack came from!

Is My Dog Bored?

Dogs need mental stimulation just like humans. If your dog is bored, they may begin licking to pass the time. You might clean your house or run around the block if you have excess energy. If your dog has excess energy and you don’t play with them or take them outside, they may turn to more unusual behaviors, like licking your bed sheets. 

Boredom may seem benign, but it can lead to stress. If your dog excessively whines, drools, yawns, or paces, then you need to consider that their lifestyle may be too sedentary. 

Is My Dog Trying to Play With Me?

If you trained your dog not to bite when they roughhouse, then they may have replaced the nibbling behavior with licking. If your dog is licking you, then maybe they just want to play! Try throwing a toy for them or taking them for a run around the yard or a dog park. 

Is My Dog Kissing Me?

Have you ever gotten a great big lick from a dog and called it a doggie kiss? While dog licks aren’t exactly kisses, they can be a sign of affection. 

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), dog licks can be a signal of respect. 

Your dog might just be letting you know that they trust you and see you as the pack leader. 

Is My Dog Licking Compulsively?

If your dog obsessively licks your bed, and you can’t intervene to make them stop, then it might be a sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or Canine Compulsive Disorder (CCD). Just as OCD can result in obsessive behaviors in humans, CCD causes dogs to participate in abnormal, repetitive behaviors. 

Is The Licking Normal Behavior?

It’s not unusual for dogs to lick things to gain more information about them. Dogs are curious, and they learn about their world differently than humans. However, consistent and constant licking behavior might be a reason for concern, such as: 

  • Lack of activity
  • CCD
  • Nausea
  • Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (dementia)  

Is My Dog Anxious?

Dogs will do weird things when they’re feeling anxious in an effort to self-soothe. Separation anxiety is a common reason for sheet licking in dogs. If you come home to a puddle on your sheets from your dog’s licking, then it’s likely triggered by anxiety. 

A new bed partner might also cause your dog anxiety. If you have brought someone new into the home, or a new pet, your dog may be licking the sheets as a way to claim their territory. 

Is My Dog Eating Enough?

Does your dog always lick the bed after eating a meal? This might be happening for one of two reasons:

  • You aren’t feeding them enough at mealtime
  • Their food lacks vital nutrients

Dogs will look for food or nutrients in curious places if they don’t get enough of what they need.

Have I Changed My Dog’s Diet?

If you recently changed your dog’s diet, the new food might be lacking enough nutrients, or it might be causing your dog an upset stomach. Dogs may lick bed sheets, among other things, to try and relieve their discomfort. 

Is My Dog Dehydrated?

When was the last time you changed or refilled your dog’s water? If your dog hasn’t had a hydrating drink in a while, then they might be licking because they’re dehydrated. Licking can stimulate their salivary glands, helping to relieve any discomfort from a parched mouth. 

Make sure that you keep an eye on your dog’s water bowl so that they have plenty of opportunities to hydrate throughout the day.

Does My Dog Have Pica?

Pica is a condition that causes dogs to crave non-food items. Dogs suffering from pica will lick or eat unusual things, such as bed sheets. Since bedsheets are heavy with your scent, they’re especially drawn to them. The ingestion of non-food items can be harmful to your dog’s health, so it’s important to take it seriously. 

Is My Dog In Pain?

If your dog is a young pup, then it might be experiencing discomfort from teething. Dogs seek to soothe discomfort in various ways, one of which may be licking unusual things.

If you have an older dog, licking might be a sign of other mouth problems, such as a chipped or loose tooth or gingivitis. 

Should I Take My Dog to The Vet?

While licking is a normal dog behavior, it can be cause for concern. Pay attention to the consistency and frequency of the licking behavior.

If the behavior always occurs at the same time, like after dinner or right before bed, or it occurs frequently, then it might be time to talk with your vet.

Have I Rewarded the Licking Behavior?

Dogs will continue to do a behavior that gets rewarded. If your dog thinks that bed licking is a behavior you like, then they’ll want to keep doing it to make you happy! You might have rewarded your dog for their bed licking unknowingly by petting them intensely or talking to them in a really sweet voice, or giving them a treat immediately after the behavior. 

How Do I Train My Dog Not to Lick My Sheets?

If you’ve ruled out medical issues, then you might be ready to start training your dog to stop doing the licking behavior. To train your dog, you’ll need to be vigilant and committed. Keep an eye out for the behavior and stop them in the act with a firm command and an alternative, such as a toy. 

Instead of accidentally rewarding your dog for licking the bed, reward them when they don’t lick the bed instead. The rewards for not doing the behavior will train your dog to know it’s more advantageous for them not to lick the bed.

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