Why does my dog chew on blankets?

Let’s admit:

There’s nothing cuter than watching your pup nibbling on your blanket as they come to wake you up early morning.

However, this habit can quickly become a cause of worry when the chewing starts to increase.

Not only can it create holes in your expensive blankets, but you might also worry about your dog’s mental and physical condition.

Lucky for you, we have all the answers in-store and easy-to-follow solutions to treat this nasty habit right away.

So without further ado, let’s dig in!

Reasons for chewing blankets

Although it might seem difficult to find out why your dog is chewing blankets, there are only a couple of reasons behind this behavior that have been checked and approved by canine experts. They are as follows:

1. Suckling instinct

Many puppies that we purchase from pet stores are separated from their mothers at an early age. Naturally, these puppies have a suckling instinct to derive milk and nourishment from their mother. But when they are weaned by humans, that need to suckle is left unfulfilled and can show up occasionally as they grow up.

As a result, the puppies seek alternatives and chew on other soft objects, such as blankets. It provides them a sense of relief, security, and comfort — therefore is not necessarily a bad habit. 

2. Teething

Like babies, puppies also go through a teething phase where they chew on anything and everything in their sight. The newly sprouting teeth can make their gums sore and painful — but chewing on soft objects, like pillows and blankets, can help soothe this pain.

If your puppy is young, chances are that teething is the reason behind their excessive chewing behavior. Another tell-tale sign of a teething puppy is that you start seeing small teeth marks on objects around your house. 

3. Separation Anxiety

One of the most common signs of separation anxiety in canines is destructive chewing. If you recently moved to a new home, changed rooms, have a new visitor, or just changed your work shifts, it could cause your dog to develop separation anxiety.

As a result, they will try to calm themselves by visiting the places that remind them of you the most. And the obvious place to go would be your bed. Over there, your dog will chew on stuff that carries your scent, like your blankets and pillow. They will also howl and bark excessively and might start peeing or defecating inside the house.

You will notice most of these signs after you arrive home, but you can also monitor from work with the help of a camera. Separation anxiety usually sets in within 30 minutes to as little as 5 minutes of leaving the house, so tracking the symptoms might not be that difficult.

4. Boredom/Stress

If nothing else makes sense, it might just be boredom that’s causing your dog to chew on the blankets. This is especially common with breeds that carry excessive energy, such as Dobermans and Border Collies, that release their stress by engaging in chewing. 

However, boredom does not restrict itself only to blankets. Bored dogs will also gnaw on other items, like couches, shoes, furniture, and other household items if they’re looking for mental stimulation. 

How to stop dogs from chewing blankets

To figure out ways to stop your dog from chewing blankets, you first need to factor in some things. One of those is your dog’s age. A pup under one-year old is most likely fulfilling his suckling needs or is teething, while older dogs are probably suffering from separation anxiety. 

Similarly, you need to recognize when the chewing occurs. Does it happen right after you leave for work? If yes, then your dog might have separation anxiety. But if it happens throughout the day, there might be some other underlying cause.

After you’ve identified the root cause behind the destructive chewing, try the following methods to put an end to this habit:

1. Buy them chewing toys

Chewing toys are a great all-around solution for dogs that have developed a habit of nibbling blankets. They come in different shapes, soothe sore gums, and even provide various flavors. For dogs that chew to satisfy their suckling instinct, are teething, or have separation anxiety, a chewing toy can offer them the relief they seek.

Another feature of chewing toys is that they are a great source of mental stimulation. So if you suspect that your dog is chewing blankets because they aren’t getting enough indoor activity, a chewing toy can solve the problem.

We highly recommend chewing toys from brands like Kong and Benebone. Some of their models are also fillable, meaning you can stuff your dog’s favorite treats inside. You can also get chewing toys with bristles that gently scrape plaque off your pup’s teeth, keeping their breath fresh and minty.

Just make sure that you’re buying the appropriate size for your dog’s breed. If the chewing toy is too small or big for their mouth, it could pose a choking hazard or cause jaw pain.

2. Use chewing deterrents on your blanket

While you’re trying to get your dog to switch to chewing toys, it’s a good idea to use deterrents at the same time. These deterrents carry a sour taste that dogs dislike but won’t harm them in any way. You can buy these in flavors like sour cherry at pet stores and spray them onto your blankets, couches, and other precious items.

A chewing deterrent can be highly useful for dogs that are stubborn or have separation anxiety. These dogs will likely show resistance to chewing toys, but you can still protect your precious blankets as you’re making the switch. 

Don’t want to purchase a chewing deterrent? You can make one at your home as well. Just mix one-part white vinegar with two-parts apple cider vinegar. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and spray it onto your couch and other furniture.

3. Get them plenty of exercise

Boredom and lack of stimulation can cause dogs to display a number of symptoms, one of which is destructive chewing. In this scenario, they will chew on anything that peaks their attention, which includes blankets, pillows, furniture, shoes, and more. This problem is much more common with athletic or working breeds, such as Labradors, Huskies, Border Collies, and German Shepherds.

Luckily, exercise can solve both of the above problems and more. To increase physical activity, you can take your dog on morning walks or increase the duration of their park visits. If you’re too busy, try to engage with them more regularly indoors. Buy indoor toys that both of you can enjoy together, so your dog has an outlet for their pent-up energy.

This daily stimulation will not only improve your dog’s overall health but will also help build a deeper connection with them over various activities. Playing with them will also relieve separation anxiety and stop destructive chewing. 

4. Hire a dog sitter

Separation anxiety is common in dogs these days as the majority of owners work odd hours and stay out most of the day. This becomes even more troubling if you have a breed that loves being surrounded by people, such as the Labrador, Border Collies, and Vizslas. 

If you too have a dog suffering from separation anxiety due to long work hours, you should consider hiring a dog sitter. Just a few extra hours of companionship from your dog’s favorite person can help calm them down and reduce instances of blanket chewing. 

5. Use a chew-proof blanket

As a last resort, you can switch to chew-proof blankets that are built to withstand the sharp canines of dogs. This is a suitable option if your dog has sharp teeth and chews aggressively, or you have multiple dogs that have developed the habit. 

But buying a chew-proof blanket should not be the end solution. You should also simultaneously train your dog using positive reinforcement to prevent this habit from extending to your furniture and other precious items.

Should you take your dog to a vet?

Although chewing is not a dangerous habit or cause of concern (apart from the ruined blankets), it’s still a good idea to take your vet’s opinion. Sometimes, random habits like blanket chewing can point to bigger problems, such as pica or a nutritional deficiency. 

In that case, your vet will prescribe certain supplements to fulfill your dog’s dietary needs, and the chewing will go away on its own. This will also help with pica, but you will need to train your dog further with commands like “drop it” or “leave it” to stop the habit.

Many times, the chewing habit would have a simple diagnosis, such as boredom. We still advise you to at least discuss the issue with your vet, as it can give you peace of mind and tips on selecting the right approach to end the habit.

Tips to stop blanket chewing in dogs

Apart from the above methods, you can also implement the following tips to get rid of this blanket chewing habit faster. Here are some of our favorite ones:

1. Do not encourage the chewing behavior

Encouraging your dog to chew blankets might seem absurd, but it’s easier than you think. If you feed them treats as a bribe to let go of the blanket, your dog might consider it a reward for doing something good. This can reinforce the belief that chewing blankets deserves praise and make quitting harder for them.

What you should do instead is practice verbal commands like “leave it” or “drop it” with your dog. Once they stop chewing and run up to you, praise them with pats or a treat. 

2. Remove other causes of anxiety and stress

Stress and anxiety are not always caused by separation from owners. They can also be caused by loud noises, unfamiliar strangers, or new environments. When this happens, dogs indulge in activities that bring them calmness and relief, such as chewing your blanket.

If you feel like the anxiety is brought on by external stimuli, try to remove or limit them as much as possible. You can do this by installing soundproofing panels, blocking the view of windows that display lots of activity, or close access to people that are unfamiliar to your dog.

3. Use puzzles and interactive toys

Gone are the days of static dog toys that barely provided canines any entertainment. Nowadays, you can buy interactive toys that offer your dog almost the same amount of mental stimulation as a caregiver, just without their physical presence.

A great example of an interactive toy is a treat dispenser or puzzle toy. These toys force your dog to use their brainpower to solve puzzles to eat their favorite treats and can keep them busy throughout the day. This helps them stay entertained and removes their focus from the separation anxiety.

4. Don’t turn it into tug of war

When we see our dogs chewing a banket, our first instinct is to pull it away from them. But when the dog tries to resist, it turns into a game of tug of war. Unfortunately, the dog views it as playing and gets encouraged to repeat the behavior.

The right way to stop the act is to command your dog to drop/leave the blanket with a firm voice. When they do, give them a treat or pat on the head as a positive signal. 

FAQ’s

Is blanket chewing harmful for dogs?

No, blanket chewing is a common habit in dogs and usually does not equate to serious illnesses. Many dogs engage in the act to calm themselves, as blanket chewing releases endorphins in their brain. However, if you see them chewing your blanket too frequently, not letting go at any cost, or consuming inedible items, get them checked by a vet.

How to know if your dog has separation anxiety?

Separation anxiety is a disorder that causes dogs to display distressed behavior when separated from their owner. Common symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs include:

  • Loud barking or howling
  • Aggressive chewing and digging
  • Defecating at unusual places
  • Pacing

When do dogs start teething?

Puppies generally start teething at around three weeks of age and continue to do so until they’re six weeks old. When they enter the teething stage, you will notice signs like:

  • Chewing on blankets and other stuff
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Slight fever
  • Whining or howling

How to know if your dog is bored or stressed?

Dogs that are inherently energetic can easily get bored and engage in behaviors like blanket chewing. Apart from that, a bored or stressed dog will also pace around the house, drool/lick, whine, bark, and display destructive behavior more frequently. To avoid boredom, make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and get them lots of interactive toys.

Are chewing deterrents dangerous for dogs?

No, chewing deterrents are non-toxic and completely safe for dogs of all breeds. A canine will avoid sour and bitter tastes at all costs, which is why vinegar works so well as a chewing deterrent.

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