Why Does Dog Lick Bed Sheets: This seemingly innocuous behavior can be both perplexing and endearing to pet owners. For those who have ever shared their homes with a canine companion, the sight of a dog gently licking the bed sheets may be a common occurrence. While it might appear as nothing more than a quirky habit, there are various underlying reasons that can shed light on this behavior.

At its core, licking is a natural canine behavior. Puppies often learn to explore their world by using their mouths, and this oral fixation can carry into adulthood. In the wild, adult dogs may also lick their young to clean them or stimulate urination and defecation, making it a nurturing and maternal act. As a result, when your furry friend licks the sheets, they may be exhibiting a nurturing or self-soothing behavior.

Why Does Dog Lick Bed Sheets

Dogs may also turn to licking bed sheets as a form of relaxation or comfort. Much like humans who find solace in activities like chewing gum or fidgeting, dogs may use this behavior as a means to self-soothe. The rhythmic and repetitive nature of licking can have a calming effect on some dogs, akin to a human thumb-sucker finding comfort in the act.

While the behavior of dogs licking bed sheets may have multiple explanations, it is essential to consider the individual context and the dog’s overall well-being. In some cases, excessive licking could be a sign of anxiety, allergies, or other underlying health concerns. In contrast, it may simply be a benign and harmless quirk that showcases the unique personality of your furry friend.

Why do dogs lick beds and pillows?

Dogs are creatures of habit and changes in their routine can make your dog anxious. Repetitive licking releases endorphins and is a way for dogs to self-soothe. In many cases, licking the sofa is an occasional response to occasional stress, loneliness, or boredom. However, it can become a habit if not checked.

Dogs lick beds and pillows for a variety of reasons, and it’s essential to understand the context and the individual dog’s behavior to determine the exact cause. One common reason is that dogs have a strong sense of smell, and they might be trying to investigate and familiarize themselves with the scents on the bedding. This behavior could be a way for them to feel more comfortable and secure in their environment. Licking can also be a soothing and self-soothing behavior for dogs, similar to how humans might suck their thumb or bite their nails when feeling anxious or stressed. If a dog is feeling anxious, licking a soft, comforting surface like a bed or pillow can have a calming effect.

Another possibility is that dogs are attracted to the texture or taste of the fabric or pillowcase. Some dogs simply enjoy the sensation of licking different textures, and beds and pillows can be appealing in this regard. Additionally, if a dog has a history of being reinforced for this behavior with attention or treats, they may continue to do it as a way to seek rewards.

It’s essential for dog owners to observe their pets closely and consider the context in which the licking behavior occurs. If excessive licking becomes a concern or is accompanied by signs of stress or anxiety, it’s a good idea to consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer to address any underlying issues and provide appropriate guidance to modify the behavior.

How do I get my dog to stop licking the bed?

It will take time but she will figure out she isn’t supposed to lick that. Another, and probably more effective option is to get a product called dog bitters. (Bitter apple etc) from the pet store and spray anything she licks with it. The taste will deter her most times.

To discourage your dog from licking the bed, you can try the following strategies:

Provide alternative outlets for the behavior: If your dog is licking the bed due to anxiety, boredom, or as a soothing mechanism, it’s essential to address the underlying cause. Offer your dog alternative activities to engage in, such as interactive toys, puzzle feeders, or regular exercise. Mental and physical stimulation can help reduce the need for licking. Additionally, consider providing a designated, safe space like a comfortable dog bed or crate with their favorite toys and a cozy blanket. Encourage them to use this area for relaxation and comfort.

Use a bitter-tasting deterrent spray: You can purchase bitter-tasting sprays designed to deter dogs from licking or chewing on objects. Apply the spray to the areas of the bed your dog tends to lick. The unpleasant taste can discourage the behavior, and over time, your dog may associate the bed with this unpleasant taste, helping them break the habit.

Positive reinforcement and redirection: Whenever you catch your dog in the act of licking the bed, redirect their attention to a more appropriate behavior. You can offer a favorite toy, engage in play, or reward them with treats when they engage in a different activity. Consistency is key, and with time, your dog should learn that there are more rewarding and acceptable behaviors than licking the bed.

It’s essential to be patient and consistent in your efforts to modify your dog’s behavior. If the licking persists or is a sign of underlying anxiety or medical issues, consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer for further guidance and support.

Why does my dog lick my clothes and bedding?

They Want To Smell You

Your dog loves revolving their life around you. So, when you’re away from home, they might hop into your bed and lick your sheets because your sheets smell like you. Furthermore, they might be licking your sheets because they both smell like you and have a salty residue from your skin.

Dogs may lick your clothes and bedding for a variety of reasons, and understanding their motivations can help you address the behavior appropriately. One common reason is that dogs have an acute sense of smell, and they may be attracted to the scent of their owners. Your clothing and bedding carry your unique scent, and licking these items could be a way for your dog to feel closer to you, seeking comfort and reassurance in your absence. Dogs often find the scent of their owners to be soothing and comforting.

Another reason for this behavior could be a form of stress relief or self-soothing. Licking can have a calming effect on dogs, similar to how humans might engage in habits like nail-biting or thumb-sucking when anxious. If your dog is experiencing stress or anxiety, they might lick your clothes and bedding as a way to self-soothe and feel more secure.

It’s essential to observe your dog’s overall behavior and context to determine the underlying cause. If the behavior becomes excessive or problematic, consider consulting with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer who can help address any potential stressors or provide guidance on how to manage the behavior effectively.

Why is my dog licking everything all of a sudden?

If your dog starts licking excessively, this could also point to stress or anxiety. Loud noises, moving house or separation anxiety can cause pups enough stress to look for ways to soothe themselves. The act of licking releases endorphins which help the dog calm down in stressful situations.

If your dog is suddenly licking everything excessively, it could be a sign of an underlying issue that needs attention. Several potential reasons may contribute to this behavior:

Medical concerns: Sudden changes in behavior, such as increased licking, can sometimes be linked to health problems. Dogs may lick excessively if they are experiencing pain, discomfort, or digestive issues. Check for any signs of physical discomfort, and if the licking persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, consult with a veterinarian to rule out any medical issues.

Stress or anxiety: Dogs often resort to excessive licking as a way to self-soothe when they are feeling stressed or anxious. Changes in their environment, routine, or the presence of new people or animals can trigger anxiety. It’s important to identify and address the root cause of stress, and you can consult a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for assistance in managing anxiety-related behaviors.

Behavioral triggers: Something in your dog’s environment or daily routine may be encouraging the behavior. It’s essential to look for any recent changes in your dog’s life, such as changes in diet, new scents, or exposure to different household products, as these may be contributing factors. Dogs are sensitive to environmental changes, and sudden excessive licking could be a response to these changes.

To address the issue, start by ruling out any medical concerns with a visit to the veterinarian. If no medical problems are found, consider any recent changes in your dog’s environment or routine and work on alleviating sources of stress or anxiety. Positive reinforcement training techniques and the use of interactive toys or puzzles can also help redirect their behavior to more appropriate outlets. If the problem persists, consult with a professional dog behaviorist to develop a tailored plan to address your dog’s specific needs.

Why Does Dog Lick Bed Sheets

Are there health risks associated with dogs licking bed sheets?

While dogs licking bed sheets might seem harmless or even endearing, there are potential health risks associated with this behavior. Firstly, dogs’ mouths are not entirely free of bacteria. When they lick surfaces, including bed sheets, they can transfer these bacteria. This may lead to skin irritations or minor infections, particularly if the dog has recently licked an area with open wounds or scratches. Moreover, some dogs may carry zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted to humans through saliva, though the risk of this is relatively low.

If your dog has recently eaten something unusual or toxic, their saliva may contain remnants of these substances, which could potentially transfer to your bed sheets. This can pose a health risk, especially if you have young children who might come into contact with the sheets.

Allergens in a dog’s saliva, such as proteins and dander, can become embedded in the bed sheets. This may cause allergies or worsen existing ones, particularly if you or someone in your household is sensitive to pet allergens.

To mitigate these risks, it’s advisable to discourage your dog from licking your bed sheets and other personal items. Regularly wash your sheets and consider using a pet-friendly, hypoallergenic detergent. Additionally, maintaining your dog’s oral hygiene and ensuring they have a balanced diet can help reduce the potential risks associated with their licking behavior. If you have concerns about specific health issues, consult with your veterinarian for guidance.

Can a dog’s breed or individual factors influence this behavior?

Yes, a dog’s breed and individual factors can influence their tendency to lick bed sheets or engage in excessive licking behavior. Certain dog breeds are more predisposed to licking due to their genetics and temperament. For example, some retriever breeds and herding dogs may have a stronger instinct to lick as a way to nurture or groom, while terriers might display more compulsive behaviors. Individual factors, such as a dog’s personality and past experiences, can also play a significant role.

A dog’s personality can impact their propensity to lick bed sheets. Anxious or stressed dogs may be more prone to licking as a self-soothing mechanism, which could extend to household items like bed sheets. On the other hand, more confident and relaxed dogs might exhibit this behavior less frequently. Past experiences, such as early weaning or separation from their mother and littermates, can influence licking tendencies. Dogs that were weaned too early might engage in excessive licking as a substitute for the comforting sensations they missed out on during puppyhood.

It’s essential to understand that while breed and individual factors can influence a dog’s licking behavior, it is not solely determined by these factors. Training, socialization, and environmental enrichment can all play a significant role in shaping a dog’s behavior. If you find your dog’s licking habits problematic or excessive, it’s best to consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can help address the behavior through appropriate training techniques and behavioral modification.

How can one discourage a dog from licking bed sheets?

Discouraging a dog from licking bed sheets requires a combination of training, environmental management, and understanding the underlying reasons for the behavior. Here are some effective strategies to help curb this habit:

Train the “Leave It” command: Teach your dog the “Leave It” command, which can be invaluable in redirecting their attention away from the bed sheets. Start by placing a treat in your closed fist and offering it to your dog. When they show interest in it but do not try to get it, say “Leave It” and reward them with a different treat. Gradually increase the difficulty by using items more tempting than bed sheets, and be consistent with training.

Provide appropriate alternatives: Sometimes, dogs lick bed sheets out of boredom or anxiety. Offer your dog appropriate alternatives, like dog-safe chew toys or puzzle feeders, to keep them occupied and mentally stimulated. Engaging toys can divert their attention away from the sheets.

Maintain a well-structured routine: Dogs often thrive on routine. Ensure your dog gets enough exercise, playtime, mental stimulation, and social interaction to reduce anxiety and boredom. A tired dog is less likely to engage in compulsive behaviors like excessive licking.

Environmental management: Use deterrents such as pet-safe sprays or bitter-tasting substances on the bed sheets to make them less appealing. Make sure the bed is well-made and the sheets are tucked in tightly, making it less accessible for your dog to lick. Additionally, consider crating or confining your dog in a safe and comfortable area during unsupervised times to prevent them from accessing the bed sheets.

It’s important to be patient and consistent when discouraging this behavior. If the licking persists and appears to be driven by anxiety or medical issues, consult with your veterinarian or a professional dog behaviorist for further guidance and evaluation.

Is bed sheet licking related to a dog’s instincts or past experiences?

Bed sheet licking in dogs can be related to both their instincts and past experiences. Here’s how these factors can influence this behavior:

Instincts: Licking is a natural behavior for dogs. It’s a part of their grooming and nurturing instincts, often seen when mother dogs lick their puppies or when dogs lick themselves to clean wounds or feel more comfortable. Some breeds, like retrievers, may have stronger nurturing instincts and be more inclined to engage in licking behaviors. Instinctual behaviors can also be influenced by genetic factors.

Past Experiences: A dog’s early life experiences can significantly impact their behavior. Dogs that were weaned too early from their mother and littermates might have missed out on the comforting sensations of maternal licking. As a result, they may seek similar comfort by licking household items, including bed sheets. Traumatic experiences or a lack of proper socialization during a dog’s formative stages can lead to anxiety or compulsive behaviors, which may manifest as excessive licking.

Anxiety and Stress: Anxiety and stress can be triggered by various factors, including past experiences, and may lead to excessive licking as a self-soothing mechanism. If a dog is anxious, they might turn to behaviors like licking as a way to comfort themselves. This behavior can become a habit over time, even when the initial stressor is no longer present.

Medical Issues: Sometimes, excessive licking can be due to underlying medical issues such as allergies, dermatitis, or gastrointestinal problems. Dogs may instinctively lick to alleviate discomfort caused by these conditions. It’s important to rule out medical causes when addressing bed sheet licking.

Understanding the interplay of instincts, past experiences, and current emotional states can help in managing and modifying this behavior. If bed sheet licking becomes a concern or persists, consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog behaviorist to determine the underlying causes and develop a tailored plan for addressing it.


The act of dogs licking bed sheets is a multifaceted behavior that reflects the intricate world of canine communication, instinct, and individuality. As pet owners, understanding this behavior can foster a deeper connection with our furry companions and enable us to better meet their needs.

We’ve discovered that at the heart of this behavior lies the inherent nature of dogs, with their oral exploration beginning in puppyhood and potentially continuing into adulthood. The maternal and nurturing instincts passed down through generations of canines may manifest as licking, even when directed towards inanimate objects like bed sheets.

Why Does Dog Lick Bed Sheets

While we have unraveled the possible reasons behind this behavior, it is crucial to remember that each dog is an individual, and context matters. Excessive or obsessive licking could be a signal of underlying health issues, allergies, or anxiety. As responsible pet owners, we must be attuned to our dog’s well-being and consult with a veterinarian if necessary.

In the end, the mystery of why dogs lick bed sheets is yet another reminder of the beauty of the human-canine bond. Our pets communicate with us in myriad ways, and understanding their behaviors adds depth to the connection we share with them. By acknowledging the multifaceted nature of our dogs’ actions and embracing their unique personalities, we can provide them with the love, care, and attention they deserve. So, the next time you catch your furry friend in the act of licking your bed sheets, you can appreciate the richness and complexity of their world and the unique role they play in our lives as loyal, loving, and sometimes enigmatic companions.