Why Does My Dog Lick the Bed Sheets: Hint, It Smells Like You

Dogs are such delightfully curious creatures. They’ll stick their noses and tongues into anything they can reach. Sometimes that means they sniff and taste test things we would never put near our faces. Although their antics might amuse or disgust you, especially when it’s your laundry or bed they want to get to know, I can assure you it’s perfectly normal for our canine companions. So long as what they’re putting their faces in isn’t toxic or sharp, it’s mostly okay. However, things can get out of hand.

Why does my dog lick the bedsheets? Your dog licks the bedsheets to help them understand the world. Using the tongue to help aid the sense of smell is a very normal doggy thing to do. It’s hard for us to imagine exploring the world with different primary senses, but your dog uses their snout and mouth the way we use our eyes and fingertips. 

Dogs Lick Everything

It may seem like your dog has singled out the bedsheets, but that’s often a matter of perception. Because we sleep there, it may be more noticeable when your dog leaves a big wet, slobbery kiss on your side of the bed. However, dogs will lick walls, floors, us, and pretty much anything else they want. Their tongues are part of their primary sense.

It’s a myth that dogs can’t see in color, though dogs’ color vision is more limited than ours. Your dog doesn’t rely on just their eyes. While the millions of scent receptors and unique Jacobson’s Organ are your pup’s primary way of sensing the world, their tongue is helpful too. In fact, licking may even help them smell.

The Jacobson’s Organ isn’t unique to dogs. Cats and a few other animals share it. What it does is help translate scents into the brain, so your dog gets a more complete picture. When combined with the taste buds, and some other particular tongue uses, scientists believe your dog can create an image of the world with their sense of smell.

When dogs lick their noses or the air, they’re collecting scents more effectively. The tongue can be used to help bring air and moisture to the areas where a dog needs it most. This helps them use their Jacobson’s Organ and the three hundred million scent receptors, almost like a superpower.

Obsessed With Sheets

Sometimes your dog truly is obsessed with licking your sheets. Though they aren’t the only thing a dog might obsess over, your sheets are very noticeable. Unfortunately, two medical conditions might be causing the behavior problem.

A dog who has Pica is driven to lick and bite or eat non-food items. Sadly, this can be incredibly unhealthy and needs to be monitored closely. Similarly, the licking might be a result of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In that case, a dog is driven to repeat specific actions, like sheet licking. Often they do so in a way that interferes with their overall quality of life. Sadly, the two conditions can occur together.

Although you should always consult your veterinarian for the correct steps to take, you will probably need to use a deterrent for when you’re not around. If you can’t keep your dog out of your bedroom, the next best thing is to use an excellent motion-activated spray deterrent like SSSCAT Spray Pet Deterrent from PetSafe. I love this brand because it’s odorless, non-staining, environmentally friendly, and, most importantly, safe for your dog. Check prices and availability by clicking here

Pica Problems Can Lead to Licking

You need to see a vet if you suspect your dog has Pica. Although it’s much more common for a dog to lick and chew things like dirt or even poop, no hard and fast rule says a pup with Pica has to eat the usual non-foods.

The urge to eat things that aren’t food can be dangerous to your dog. Mainly if they’ve gone beyond licking, and your pooch is chewing on your sheets. The fibers in the fabric can cause intestinal blockages and make your dog very ill.

Doggy OCD & Compulsive Licking

We usually don’t think of licking as unhealthy, more like adorable or annoying. However, if your dog is licking the sheets in a way that doesn’t seem to stop, or is destructive, or harmful to your dog, then it could be OCD.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder drives dogs, and sometimes other mammals like humans or cats, to go through repetitive motions. When the licking happens for hours, or you can’t convince your dog to stop, it’s a warning sign. You should make an appointment with your vet to see if your pet needs medical or training intervention.

If the licking ever lasts so long, it hurts your dog; it’s time to put a stop to it. You need to close your door or use another strong deterrent to prevent the behavior. I like The Company Of Animals Pet Corrector. It’s a gentile, non-damaging deterrent that hisses warningly, and blows air in your dogs’ face. You can pick up a four-pack for the bedside table from Amazon when you click here.

Help Your OCD Dog

OCD causes more than just licking. A dog who compulsively obsesses is not happy. One of the simplest things you can do to help distract a dog with OCD is to distract them. Give your obsessive pup lots of extra attention and stimulation.

Getting an OCD dog out of the house, not merely for walks, but also to socialize with other dogs can be an indispensable part of their therapeutic process. Staying away from the obsessive object (in this case, your sheets) can help curb the need to interact with it.

An Important Note About Doggy OCD

Some of you, particularly those who own large breed dogs, might be a little confused about OCD. Two very different problems share a common abbreviation. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in dogs is not related to Osteochondritis Dissecans.

The OCD I refer to here is a psychological compulsion that causes repetitive behavior that can be controlled and helped with training techniques. Meanwhile, Osteochondritis Dissecans, or OCD, as some large breed owners know it, is a musculoskeletal condition that cannot be helped with any training technique as far as I know.

When Good Dogs Misbehave

Not all compulsive sheet licking is caused by something as serious, or uncommon as Pica and OCD. Sometimes it’s an expression of frustration, boredom, anxiety, or stress. Intentional misbehavior and ‘freaking out’ are not the same thing, but they look very similar. In fact, they can look identical.

Either way, make sure you’re getting your dog enough exercise based on their breed and age. Likewise, they need more to do. Give them challenging activities like agility training and time to socialize with other dogs.

Attention Licking

A dog who is seeking your attention because they are bored and frustrated might be licking the sheets because you don’t like it. These pups need firm guidance, and they need to get more interactive play.

Try an AWOOF Snuffle Mat for a dog who is misbehaving on purpose. Not only will it help your dog eat slowly and pace themselves, which is outstanding for their health, but it also keeps them busy with a challenge. You can find one for your canine companion by clicking right here

Stress Lickers

Regrettably, a stressed or anxious dog who is licking the sheets is literally ‘worrying’ them. If things have changed, and your dog is showing signs of nervous or frightened behavior, first try to identify the source. Second, if you can remove the stress or problem, do that.

Sometimes more love, and a little of your attention is all they need. If the problem is jealousy over a new pet or baby, reassure them. If someone or something scared them, then you need to make them feel safe again. However, there may be underlying conditions or damage you can’t see causing this behavior. When in doubt, always see the vet.

Redirect Undesirable Licking Behavior

When your dog is licking the sheets, and it’s not a huge problem, but it bugs you, then it’s time to re-train their attention. Realistically, even if you don’t mind at all, it’s probably still better to redirect that energy and attention before it becomes a habit that needs breaking.

Fortunately, training is all about consistency, repetition, and rewards. You and your favorite Fido can have a lot of fun with this. Whenever your dog wants to lick your sheets, stop them. Give a firm voice command, and then give them a better option.

Whether you throw a ball or give a belly rub, what matters is to get their face away from the sheets. Make sure they enjoy whatever it is you ask them to do instead. Treat the good behavior with something healthier than woven cotton.

One of my go-to training treats for my dogs is Greenies Original Dental Treats. I appreciate the fact that they help keep their breath smelling better, and their teeth and gums in good shape. Get treats that do double duty to distract your sheet licking dog by clicking here

Final Thoughts

So long as your dog isn’t destroying your sheets, then what they’re doing is mostly harmless. It may gross you out, or you might find it unpleasant. Especially if you sit in a wet spot when you are heading to bed for the night, things can be uncomfortable for you.

Keep in mind that there’s a vast difference between normal, healthy curiosity, and obsessive behavior. If the dog licks your sheets and refuses to stop, can’t be distracted, and possibly hurts themself, or your bed, be concerned. Anything that harms your pet is a problem. Plus, anything that destroys your stuff is a training issue.

See a vet right away for compulsive behaviors. Putting it off will only make things worse.

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