Last updated on April 9th, 2023 at 03:25 pm
If you have noticed that your dog’s blanket is looking a little ragged around the edges, it may be because your dog loves to nibble on it. Even worse, your own blanket or bedding may be getting a few little tale-tale holes in it especially if this is your dog’s favorite place to nap! But before you become overly concerned, just know that this is not unusual behavior.
Dogs often nibble on their blankets as a self-calming activity, and it is often just a fun or comforting thing for them to do. However, If a dog nibbles on his blanket excessively, it could be in reaction to boredom, stress, anxiety, frustration, or the need to play. Additionally, puppies may nibble at blankets after being weaned or when they go through teething.
Keep reading to learn more.
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Most Common Reasons Your Dog Nibbles on His Blanket
Dogs love to chew, so nibbling at their blanket is not a reason for alarm. It is very natural in most cases, but it is important to pay attention to what your dog may be feeling. In some cases your dog may have some unmet needs that need to be addressed.
Nibbling on a Blanket is Simply Fun and Comforting
When your dog nibbles on his blanket at night or drags it around the house with her, it may just be a fun thing to do. She may see it as another type of toy. Nibbling may also give her a little comfort like a human baby who likes to suck on a pacifier or hold a favorite doll.
Dogs have the emotional maturity of a two year old child, so they tend to resort to very basic pleasures to keep themselves occupied. Young children often hold and carry around their favorite blankets to help them feel more secure and warm. Dogs are no different.
When blanket nibbling seems excessive or turns into chewing, you might want to pay more attention to what your dog may be feeling. Your pup could be experiencing some separation anxiety or feeling fearful about something.
As an example, if you have just brought your dog home from the shelter, this is a big adjustment for him or her. Your new pup may be feeling a bit anxious from his time at the shelter plus his move into your home. Nibbling his blanket at night be a form of comfort as he settles in. But if he begins to destroy it, he may not be adjusting well and you may need to consult a trainer or behavioralist.
When I first brought home my two rescue dogs, the owner of the kennel who had rescued them recommended that I keep them in a large crate at night and when I was away. They were older dogs (six years old), but I think she worried that they might make a mess in the house or chew something up. She wanted this placement to be a success!
They were very quiet and slept throught the night. But every night they chewed on their blankets. After a few nights, I let them sleep outside of the crate in a doggie bed next to me. And suddenly, the chewing stopped.
I think the crate made them anxious as it reminded them of the nine months they had spent at the kennels awaiting adoption. But after a few weeks, they begin to relax and seemed to to enjoy having a comfy dog bed and a lot of pampering! Be sure to see my post about where should your new rescue dog sleep the first night.
Stress, Frustration, or Boredom
Chewing is a natural way for dogs to comfort themselves. It ties in to their hunting and survival instincts. So, if your dog seems bored, a little stressed, or frustrated, he may be signaling to you that he needs some attention if he chews or nibbles excessively on his blanket. He may also just be a bit hungry especially if dinner is late!
The first time I left my dogs loose in the house for over 3 hours, I discovered that they had not only nibbled on on their blankets but had started to chew on the hallway carpet! They were always a little bit anxious when I left them for more than a few minutes, so I think chewing on something was their way of comforting themselves. You can read more in my post about how dogs calm themselves.
I also have noticed that my dogs will aggressively chew on the hall carpet or their blankets when they are feeling cooped up and frustrated. This happens particularly on rainy days when we just can’t get out. So, it is a signal to me to start playing indoor fetch with them or give them a treat game. See what to do with your dog on a rainy day for more about this.
Pay attention to your dog and make sure he/she is getting enough exercise and attention. Inactivity and lack of attention can lead to stress and frustration. Your pup will need at least two to three hours of interaction with you each day as well as 30 minutes to two hours of healthy exercise.
After Weaning or During Teething
If you have a young puppy, watch to see if she is actually nibbling or sucking at her blanket. If she is sucking, she is probably trying to comfort herself after being being weaned from her mother. Again, it is similar to a baby who sucks on a pacifier as he is making the transition from nursing to baby food.
In some cases, puppies are weaned prematurely for various reasons. Weaning should happen around the 8 week point of a puppy’s life. Weaning prior to 8 weeks is considered too soon regarding the pup’s emotional and nutrional needs. Therefore, a puppy may suck on something like a toy or blanket for a longer period of time before he outgrows the habit. See more about puppies who suck on things from this article at AKC.org.
Is It Harmful?
For the most part nibbling on a blanket is not a problem if it is just a way your dog entertains or comforts himself. However, nibbling that turns into excessive chewing or destruction is symptomatic of a more worrisome issue and should be dealt with. Safety issues can also be a concern.
In particular watch out for these potential problem:
- Don’t give your dog a blanket with tassles or woven balls on the edges as they could choke.
- If your dog has shredded his blanket he could ingest threads or strings that could harm his G.I. tract.
- Your dog may be allergic to strong fragrances in their blankets from laundry rinse or embedded scents.
- Make sure your dog is not chewing and eating large pieces as it could choke him or create a blockage.
How to Stop Your Dog from Nibbling and Chewing on Blankets
If your dog’s nibbling turns into dangerous or destructive chewing, you will need to take action. Try removing his blanket and replace it with a safe chewing toy such as these bacon flavored Spot Bam-bones at Amazon. These ethical chew toys made from bamboo fiber are a staple at our house! My dogs nibble on them every evening before bedtime.
You can also check out the WEST PAW Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone Chew Toy at Amazon, which we also have in our toy box at home. They are made of really hard rubber that will not break your dog’s teeth but are pretty indestructible for most dogs. You can see more suggestions about chew toys on my recommended Dog Toys Page.
You can also spray the edges of your dog’s blanket with an unpleasant smell such as vinegar mixed with water, which is what I have used. But the vinegar can be a little stinky, unless you really happen to like the smell of vinegar!
Or you can buy Granicks’ Bitter Apple Spray from Amazon. This spray is safe, non-toxic, and does not stain. It just has a really bad taste that will deter your dog from chewing the sprayed edges of his blanket. It is also great for hot itchy spots on your dog’s skin that need to heal and for puppies who want to chew everything! Some people even spray their hands to keep their pups from biting them! I have not personally tried this product yet, but I am planning to purchase it for my dog’s next hot spot. It is recommended by trainers and some Humane Societies and has great reviews on Amazon.
For the most part, nibbling on blankets is not a problematic dog or puppy behavior. Nibbling is just a way that dogs entertain or comfort themselves. However, if it becomes excessive or destructive, then consult a trainer or behavioralist to rule out any severe emotional problems that your dog may need help with.
In most cases, you can stop the behavior with chew toys or sprays. Or, you can simply wait for your puppy or adult dog to settle down and outgrow the habit. In some cases, your pup may simply want to have his blankie with him all the time. And that can be okay if it brings him a safe form of comfort and joy!
Deanna Euritt is a dedicated dog enthusiast with over three decades of experience in raising and training a diverse range of dogs, including many rescue pups. Her practical expertise is rooted in real-life experiences, where she has successfully navigated the challenges of nurturing rescue dogs into confident, well-adjusted companions. Residing in Northern California, Deanna’s days are filled with adventures along trails and beaches with her beloved dogs, Charlotte and Georgia. In her writing, she offers insightful, compassionate advice to fellow dog lovers, leveraging her extensive personal journey in the world of dog care and training. See About Us.