Dogs aren’t unlike people. They develop odd habits often in response to things happening in their world. As strange as it may seem to us, it’s comforting to them, even if it looks weird. It’s a compulsive behavior that your pet may do instinctively. The fact remains that it can have a plethora of causes. Science doesn’t know why it happens in people, either.
Understanding Compulsive Behavior in Dogs
If your dog engages in anything repeatedly, it’s a sign that something is wrong. These acts are a diversion and often are a symptom of stress. The couch, your bed, or his paw are his way of displacing negative emotions, typically anxiety or stress. Other unusual behaviors include barking, pacing, and chewing.
Sometimes, compulsive behaviors like licking your bed have a genetic origin, often hormonal in nature. Other times, it develops as you might expect with people as a result of some traumatic event or situation. Rescue pets, especially those that were abused often, develop these conditions.
The point is that it’s often out of the control of your pet.
Your dog isn’t trying to annoy you—or stain the furniture. That’s why it’s essential to understand that he isn’t acting out but is reacting to something that is upsetting him.
Causes for Obsessive Licking
Many breeds like the French Bulldog have a hard time being alone and, thus, are susceptible to separation anxiety. That’s why it’s imperative to research a breed before you buy a puppy. A lot depends on how breeders have selectively bred a dog. Greyhounds race. Pointers hunt. We recommend knowing that a particular dog needs for the best quality of life for your pet.
That also applies to the dog’s energy level. A working dog like the Border Collie must have a job. If he gets bored, he’ll likely start by licking your bed until he gets around to chewing and destroying it. That’s why it’s essential to keep your pup entertained. Otherwise, he’s going to take care of the task himself.
Any unusual behavior is worth investigating. If it isn’t obvious, schedule an appointment with your dog’s veterinarian. Sometimes, health conditions manifest themselves in strange ways. It could be something as obscure as a nutritional deficiency or an allergy. Dental issues such as gum disease could also trigger it.
The Elephant in the Room
Let’s not forget the fact that your dog might like licking your bed simply because it tastes good. Do you snack while lounging and watching TV? Dogs, after all, are the original vacuum cleaner. The crumbs from the potato chips or Doritos may encourage this behavior in your pup. The problem is once he learns it, he’s likely to continue to scout around for treats.
Elephants have nothing on the memory of dogs.
If you don’t want your dog to lick the bed, don’t encourage him. Remember that your pup’s evolution saw good times and bad. He’s going to look for and look for food when he can. He’s not particular about where he finds it.
Breaking the Habit
We understand. The sound is disturbing to say nothing of rolling over and finding the spot your dog likes, inadvertently. The first thing is to find the trigger.
- Is it anxiety?
- Does he need something to do?
- Is he snacking?
Once you’ve identified it, you can take steps to break the chain. If it’s stress, look for ways to mitigate it, such as a weighted blanket or a crate.
Forgo your midnight snacks or, at least, give your pup his treat, preferably one that will keep him occupied for a while.
The essential thing is to pay attention to the behavior. Look for the cause and effect. That is the single best way to stop your dog from licking the bed. If you monitor it, you’ll likely find the trigger. That will empower you. Also, remember that you are helping your pet. You are removing a source of anxiety in his life.
Obsessive licking is a red flag, whether it’s your bed or the living room couch. It’s not normal behavior. We recommend taking notice and trying to figure out its cause. Knowing the why behind compulsive behavior with dogs is just as elusive as it is with people. Anxiety and stress are likely causes. If you pay attention, you may quickly learn what is rocking your pet’s world in a bad way.
The good news is that if you can connect the dots, you are well ahead of the game. Remember that your dog just wants a safe and secure home. Licking the bed might be a way that your pet is telling you that he’s unhappy.
Featured Image: Prystai, Shutterstock