9 Reasons Why Dogs Lick Bedsheets (+Solutions)

It’s a well-known fact that dogs love to lick things. But what most people don’t know is why they do it. It turns out there are many reasons your dog might be licking your bedsheets. Some of the reasons may not sound good to you at first, but they’re all part of being a dog and living with them in close quarters.

Here’s Why Your Dog Licks Your Bedsheets:

Dogs lick their owners’ bedsheets for many reasons. It may just be because they like the smell and taste of your sheets or because they are anxious over something. Dogs also lick their owners’ bedsheets for reasons of health and behavioral issues.

why does my dog lick my bedsheets

Common Reasons Why Dogs Lick Bedsheets

Here are those reasons, with explanations, in more detail.

1. Familiar Scents and Smells

Dogs like the smell of things that are familiar. Your dog might enjoy licking your bedsheet because it reminds them of you. This is probably true for other smells within your home, like your couch or even the rug underneath where you feed them.

One study has even shown that dogs respond more strongly to scents that are familiar to them. In this study, twelve dogs were exposed to the scent of a familiar human or unfamiliar human. The dogs acted more strongly toward their owner’s scent than they did toward the scent of an unfamiliar person.

And so, while you may find it gross when your dog licks your bedsheets, for them, it’s like you’re there, cuddled up next to them.

2. Anxiety

There are several forms of anxiety in dogs that can trigger licking sheets. One of these is separation anxiety.

Dogs suffering from this type of anxiety disorder feel a lot of stress when their owners leave, and many times they’ll exhibit this by licking the owner’s things, including your bedsheets.

This is because, according to Dr.Mary Becker, your dog’s brain releases the feel-good hormone called endorphins that is responsible for feelings of relaxation and happiness when they lick things.

This is especially true when your dog also licks not only your sheets but also your other belongings, like your shoes or clothes, every time you leave them alone at home.

3. Marking Their Territory

The act of marking territory has been observed in dogs since ancient times. This behavior dates back to when dogs were wild and needed to leave their scent on their dens, so other dogs would know that this was their territory.

It also served the purpose of leaving a scent for other dogs, warning them not to intrude or trespass on their property.

Even after thousands of years of domestication, this behavior hasn’t changed. Dogs will still instinctively mark their territory in this way, even when they live inside the house, sleeping with you on your bed.

Most people would know this behavior by the act of urinating or defecating on things. But this behavior can also be exhibited in other ways, like licking. So when your dog licks your sheets, it’s like they are “marking” their territory – making sure that every other animal knows that this is their space.

4. Affection

Licking is a dog’s equivalent of kissing. It’s the way that dogs show affection toward their owners. Dogs lick each other’s faces as a sign of affection to show that they are friendly toward one another.

When you reciprocate this behavior by petting your dog and giving it warmth and love, this reinforces your bond. As some studies suggested, as the two of you are engaged in an activity together, like cuddling on your bed or the couch, the production of the “oxytocin” hormone increases in both of you.

This hormone is often referred to as the “love” hormone because it creates feelings of happiness, excitement and makes people more loving.

It also reminds your dog that they are part of the human family pack and not just their own self-reliant animal making them feel even more in love with you. And to express their affection to you, they may just want to lick everything that belongs to you, including your bedsheets.

 5. Gathering Information

Licking can be a way for dogs to explore and gather information about their surroundings. This is especially true for young puppies. Just like human babies use their hands to explore the world around them, dogs use their tongues and lips to do the same thing.

And so, if you have a new puppy in your home, licking your belongings is not an act of aggression. Instead, it’s just their way of collecting information about you.

Through your bedsheets, they can learn more about where you’ve been, what you ate, and what you’re feeling. It’s almost like they are “reading” the information in your scent. And for them, it’s an important way to develop a sense of familiarity with their human family.

6. Leftover Crumbs

You may think that your sheet is clean every time you make your bed in the morning. But, what you can’t see maybe all the leftover crumbs there are in the seams of your sheets.

Some dogs are really good at picking up small bits of food and eating them. If they find any leftovers in between or under the surface of your sheets, they might just think it’s an additional snack and gobble it up.

7. Canine Compulsive Disorder

In humans, there is a psychiatric condition that is called “obsessive-compulsive disorder.” This is where people are compelled to perform certain actions over and over again to relieve stress.

This condition is not just limited to humans, as dogs can also be affected by this disorder as well. In dogs, such behavior is dubbed as “Canine Compulsive Disorder” or CCD.

CCD may manifest in a number of ways, such as excessive licking and chewing on themselves, repetitive motions like running in circles, self-mutilation behaviors, and compulsive staring at walls or other objects.

To differentiate CCD from other dog behavior, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • The extent of the behavior (how long and how often)
  • Whether there are any changes in your dog’s other behavior, such as a lack of appetite.
  • Whether the behavior is linked to changes in their routine, environment, or general state of mind – whether they are depressed or anxious.

8. Medical Condition

Although there are a few medical conditions that may cause excessive lickings, most of the time, it can be attributed to stomach problems.

For instance, some dogs experience nausea or stomach pain due to an illness, eating spoiled food, or after eating something that does not agree with them.

In some dogs, this may slowly decrease over time, while it’s a chronic problem in others.

If your dog suddenly develops a licking problem and you notice that they are experiencing other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, or loss of appetite, it’s best to consult a vet as soon as possible.

This will help identify the underlying cause and determine whether there is any medical treatment available for this condition.

9. Unintentionally Reinforced Behavior

Without even realizing it, you might be inadvertently rewarding your dog for their licking behavior. For example, if your dog is licking something and you happen to reward them with a pat on the head or a treat, they might just think that their licking is being rewarded, so they continue doing it.

When Is Licking a Problem?

Most licking behaviors are normal and do not need any intervention. However, licking is a problem when it starts to become excessive in frequency or when it causes you extreme stress and discomfort. If this is the case, then it might be time to find a solution.

How To Stop Your Dog Licking Your Sheets

Before you do anything else, you should first identify the trigger that causes your dog to lick. Once you find out what triggers your dog’s licking, it will be easier to stop this behavior.

If this is the behavior that your dog has exhibited since they were young, you can try to modify their behavior by distracting them with a toy or another activity. It can be as simple as flipping their favorite Kong toy to keep them occupied.

If your dog is just recently started licking your sheets, you need to carefully observe their overall condition and try to find a possible trigger.

For example, is there any change in your dog’s routine? Did you recently move into a new home? Or are there any worrying symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea that accompany the behavior?

If you suspect there is a medical condition, it’s best to consult your vet and get their opinion on the matter. Your vet will then run some tests to identify whether or not there is any medical problem affecting your dog.

Related Questions

1. Why Does My Dog Lick My Underwear?

In most cases, the reason why a dog licks their owner’s underwear is because it carries the strongest scent of you. Dogs have a very strong sense of smelling so they can instantly identify whether something is familiar to them or not.

2. Why Does My Dog Lick My Mouth?

Licking is pleasurable to dogs, and so gentle licking of their owners’ mouths can be an expression of affection. If your dog has a nurturing personality, they could also be licking your mouth as a way of grooming you.

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