For us, it’s habitual to see babies sucking their thumbs, even as they grow, they may suck their favorite toys too. Yet, when it comes to a dog sucking a blanket, most of us aren't familiar with this behavior.

Should I worry? Is it weird? Why is he doing that? Might be some of the questions you ask yourself.

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The Origin of Sucking

Puppies come to this world with instinctive impulses only, enough for them to survive while they grow up. The first thing they will try will always be to seek and suckle the mom’s nipples for milk. This, in addition to feeding them, will grow a feeling of safety and comfort.

Because of this, when something in the surroundings disturbs the puppy, he’ll seek to nurse even if there’s no milk left. Wisely, mom will start refusing to nurse to make their puppies more independent. Even so, rarely, this won’t help the way it’s supposed to.

This leads the dog to look for this kind of protection in other objects, like soft toys or blankets.

Is It Normal that a Dog Sucks on Blankets

It has the same implications as for humans, it reminds the heat and comfort that they felt when nursing the mother’s milk. The causes can be diverse, but they’ll always mean that your dog is seeking the feel of safety that mom used to provide.

Blankets are the best candidates to fulfill this role. They’re soft, like the dog mother’s skin and fur.

Other Reasons for a Dog Sucking on Blankets

Anxiety

If this is your dog’s case, you may see him doing it after some particular activity or encounter. This means that your dog is feeling very anxious about it, and he’s trying to calm down. Try to pay attention to what is happening before your dog starts doing so, to identify the cause.

Some dogs, that suffer from separation anxiety, do this to conform themselves while the owner is gone. You can find some signs that your dog has been sucking the blankets when you return. This could be particularly good for him if it helps to calm the anxiety down.

Fear

It can be caused by thunderstorms, fireworks, or other loud noises. Several dogs fear something, and they’ll seek shelter when they’re scared. This will occasionally include sucking blankets since it works as a mental shelter for them.

Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior

If your dog has this and probably more behaviors with no apparent reason, it could be a case of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Whenever your dog starts sucking on blankets, licking your feet, or chewing on furniture, call him, he should stop at that moment. Opposite case or if he acts like he can’t stop, OCD it’s the most likely culprit.

Teething

When the puppy’s teeth start changing his baby teeth, the growing ones will make him get a kind of itchy feeling. This will lead to chewing and sucking a lot, trying to calm it down. It could be his blanket, his toys, the furniture, even you.

You can tell if this is the case by noticing if your dog wants to play more often and his bite is stronger. This is needed for the puppy, but it is important that you don't let him harm anyone during this process. Encourage him to play with toys instead of human hands or feet.

Early or Troubled Weaned

Weaning early could mean that the dog will never learn to be independent, and will always seek the comfort that nursing gave him. As well as other sociable aptitudes taught by the mother, making them more aggressive or inexperienced when they try to socialize.

Troubled weaning could cause the dog, once the mother refused to let him suckle, to begin looking for that feeling by sucking other things. This can be caused by fear or anxiety due to the environment at the moment that the mother started the weaning.

When to Worry About a Dog Sucking on Blankets

This behavior shouldn’t be worrying unless it becomes destructive or an obsession. If you note that your dog is doing it more frequently or more compulsively, that could mean that your dog needs help.

Despite helping dogs to deal with fear, stress, and anxiety, this behavior could become an obsession. Something is worrying your dog, and not solving the underlying reason will make him do it more and more often until he can’t stop.

How to Make a Dog Stop Sucking on Blankets

When it becomes worrying, you need to do something about this behavior. To solve the problem you should find what’s triggering it, but while you find out, you can try the following:

Stop Encouraging It

Don’t give your dog positive reinforcement or give him a blanket, knowing that he’s going to do it. If this is happening, try to reward him once he stops, or draw his attention to you, then, give him a treat.

The main idea of this is to let the dog know that he can count on you. The second is that he associates not sucking on blankets with rewards.

Give Other Things to Play

Giving him toys or chewing bones may also help to discourage sucking on blankets. It’s important that when you see that he’s trying to do it, instead of just letting him, give him the toy. He still needs to deal with stress, and giving him another thing to calm down will help.

“Leave It” Training

You can teach your dog to leave what he’s doing and do another thing instead.

To achieve this, you need a blanket and treats. Give the dog the blanket, if he tries to suck on it, tell him to “leave it”, take the blanket away from him and give him a treat. Repeat this until your dog is expecting treats for not paying attention to the blanket, and slowly stop giving treats.

Reduce What’s Causing It

Nothing would help your dog if you can’t reduce the circumstances that are causing this behavior. If you make your dog stop sucking on blankets but won’t stop what is causing it, he could start doing it again after a while. Even worse, he can develop another OCD that can be more destructive.

Because of that, the most important thing to do is identify what is triggering it. Once recognized, avoid the activity or reduce the number of times it is performed. On the other hand, if it is loud noises, relaxing music that covers other sounds would help.