Many a dog owner wonders why their dog nibbles on blankets. In fact, it’s not just your blankets dogs nibble on — anything left lying around can be at risk. Your dog is definitely nibbling on blankets for a reason, which may be easy to work out.
Your dog nibbles on blankets because chewing is a natural canine instinct, and hunting breeds have a particular tendency to chew on objects. There are times that they do it to express frustration, hunger, or anxiety – although most of the time it is a result of normal canine behavior.
Continue reading to see five reasons why your dog may nibble on blankets and some ways to redirect that behavior.
Your Dog Enjoys It
For canines, nibbling and biting on things comes naturally. From their youth, puppies learn to manage their nibbling and biting while playing in the litter. When one bites another too hard, they will cry or yelp, letting the other know that it hurt and was too hard a nibble.
While all dogs may nibble during their life, some breeds are more likely to than others. In particular, hunting dogs like spaniels and dachshunds are more likely to nibble on blankets due to their hunting instincts and nature.
Once your dog begins nibbling on things, it can develop into a fun habit. You may even find that your dog nibbles you sometimes when you are playing together.
Chewing can be soothing and relaxing for your dog. It’s similar to a baby’s action of sucking a thumb, providing them with the same feeling of safety and security while helping to calm them down.
For example, you may notice your dog nibble on something when they meet new people in an effort to calm their excitement.
Your Dog Is Hungry
Your dog may be eating well and enjoying the food you provide, but nibbling can also be a sign that your dog’s diet is lacking in nutrients and calories (source). Other signs of nutritional deficiencies are hair loss, change in feces, low levels of energy, and other symptoms.
Calories play an important role in a dog’s energy levels. If your dog’s diet does not provide the necessary calories, you may notice him becoming less active and lying around a lot more.
Choose your dog’s food carefully to ensure that it contains everything needed for health and vitality. Knowing how to read the ingredients of your dog’s food will help you choose the best kind (source).
A good thing to look out for on dog food labels is a statement saying that the produced food adheres to the guidelines set out by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which includes the necessary daily nutrients your dog needs.
Your Dog Is Bored
If your dog spends large portions of time alone at home while you’re out working, boredom might set in. In an effort to find something to do, your dog may start nibbling on things to pass the time. A good way to stop this is to make sure that your dog can have some playtime with you and other dogs, preferably before you leave for work.
If someone else can play with or take your dog for a walk while you’re at work, this will also curb boredom. If that’s not possible, take your dog out for a walk or run when you get back from work to get rid of pent-up energy.
A change of routine will also spice up life and keep your dog from getting bored. While dogs really enjoy consistency in their daily routine, they also like exploring new places and new things. This can include walking a new route, socializing at the dog park, taking a swim, and eating treats every so often.
Dogs are not able to recognize what they should and shouldn’t nibble on. You need to show your dog what is acceptable to nibble on and what isn’t. Buying toys that your dog can chew on while you’re away is a worthwhile investment, although they’ll even settle for the humble stick.
Making sure that your dog has enough of the right chew toys will help protect your possessions (source). If there is something you don’t want your dog to nibble on, try using a bitter chew deterrent spray. The bitter taste will stop the nibbling because your dog will not enjoy it.
Your Dog Is Stressed
Dogs also experience stress, and this can be caused by a number of different things. These include the death of a family member, moving to a new house, loud noises, and being alone at home all day while you’re at work.
A couple of tell-tale signs that your dog is stressed are pacing, a decrease in appetite, howling and whining, and an increase in sleep activity.
The same can be said about dogs that suffer from separation anxiety. Separation anxiety happens in dogs that are very attached to their owners and who become very stressed when their owners leave them at home for the day. If your dog gets nervous when you get ready to leave for work or overjoyed when you get back, combined with nibbling on things, howling, whining, and pacing, he is experiencing separation anxiety.
Another common reason that dogs nibble or suckle on their blanket is that they were prematurely weaned. This can often cause behavioral problems, but none that are usually harmful to your dog.
Since they’ve not finished suckling on their mother, their natural instinct is to choose the next best thing, often their soft blanket, and this can continue into their adult life.
Your Dog Is in Pain
If your dog is experiencing pain from teething or allergies, it’s usually a short-term issue. There are other ways to help your dog to cope with pain.
Like humans, pups can experience pain during teething. This is usually a painful process that can be eased by a chew toy or something to gnaw and nibble on while they teethe. Putting a chew toy or wet face cloth in the freezer before giving it to your dog can help numb and soothe sore gums.
Your dog can also suffer from allergies. Excessive scratching or nibbling on their bodies may be a sign of skin irritation due to food, pollen, mold, soaps, and pesticides. It’s best for you to find out what is causing these allergies through a process of elimination (source).
Dogs nibble because of instinct. It is fun, soothing, and a way of expressing themselves. For the most part, they are playing and passing the time. Dogs also nibble when they’re bored, lonely, scared, or in pain. Now that you know what to look for, you’ll be able to better determine what your dog needs.