Why Does My Dog Lick The Bed Sheets? (Pillows and Blankets)

Why Does My Dog Lick The Bed Sheets? Photo of a dog with the nose in the bed sheets.

Have you caught your dog licking the bed sheets, pillows, and comforters? All things considered, this is a common behavior, but you can address it by understanding the cause behind it. Here’s what’s going on!

There are a few reasons why your dog is most likely licking your bedsheets. The most common one is as a sign of affection. Your sheets smell like you, and your dog is licking them because they are showing their affection for you.

The other common reason is that there are remnants of your midnight snack’s crumbs in your sheets. They are simply acting as a vacuum! Less common reasons include boredom and malnutrition. Sometimes licking bed sheets can be a negative behavior, however, as it can be a symptom of OCD, anxiety, or pica.

For your dog’s general wellbeing, know how to interpret your dog’s licking and when to seek help if you need it. 

7 Reasons Why does my dog lick my pillows and blankets?

As briefly introduced above, there are several reasons why dogs lick bedding, and understanding these differences helps you see whether it’s normal, weird, or a symptom of something else.

  1. Your bed smells like you
  2. You have crumbs in your bed
  3. Your dog is bored
  4. Your dog is malnourished
  5. Your dog has OCD
  6. Your dog is anxious
  7. Your dog has pica

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1. Your bed smells like you

You sleep in your bed, obviously, so it will smell like you. Dogs love their owners more than life itself, so they will want to show their affection for you however they can.

Licking your sheets is one of those ways. It allows them to get “closer” to you and show you how they care. While it might gross you out to have soggy sheets, it is a form of endearment. Don’t worry; we’ll show you how to address the behavior a little later!

2. You have crumbs in your bed

Those midnight snacks you’ve been sneaking aren’t so sneaky after all! If you drop a single morsel, your dog is on it. Dogs will lick crumbs from your bed even if you are sure you brushed them all off before getting into bed!

It also may be that the crumbs turn out to be bugs. Dogs love eating bugs and will munch away on whatever they sniff out. Bugs are attracted to food, so this is another reason not to eat in bed!

3. Your dog is bored

Dogs will do anything to alleviate boredom. If they are bored, they’ll even lick your bedsheets just to pass the time and interest their mind with new smells and tastes.

You’ll also notice this happens on days or nights when they are not stimulated by toys or playtime, etc.

4. Your dog is malnourished

If your dog isn’t getting enough to eat or getting all of their nutritional needs met, you’ll notice them licking your sheets because, well, it makes them feel better. It’s like how licking a lollipop or an ice cream cone can help fill the void for humans.

5. Your dog has OCD

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is when your dog has a compulsion to lick bed sheets. In this case, it is a symptom of OCD rather than positive behavior. Rather than licking with intention, you’ll most likely notice random licking while focusing on the strokes rather than anything else.

Depending on the compulsion, it might be licking whatever area is next to their right paw, or it could be one specific part of the bedsheet that they’ll search for to satiate the compulsion. Some dogs will also lick other things in particular patterns.

6. Your dog is anxious

OCD and anxiety are closely linked, but anxiety would be more random. If your dog is anxious about something like a change in their lifestyle, you may notice that they are more prone to licking your sheets. This could be subtle or very obvious in terms of its intensity.

Anxious licking can also involve licking other things, like floors, doors, walls, and more. This is especially if something triggers them in another room, and they just need to work out that anxiety.

As their anxiety quells, this behavior will stop. Anxious licking is going to come and go as the triggers do. 

7. Your dog has pica

This is a condition where your dog craves the sensation of licking non-food things. This is similar to OCD in that you’ll notice that it’s a chronic thing. In this case, you’ll notice your dog licking absolutely anything they get close to.

Photo of a dog laying in bed sheets.

Why does my dog lick the Bed sheets at night?

If you notice that your dog’s behavior is associated just with nighttime licking as opposed to the morning or during the day, the causes are often:

  • They’re bored
  • They’re marking their territory
  • They are stressed

They’re bored

We talked about boredom above, but this would be boredom because you are asleep and your dog has no play buddy. They are bored and hoping to lick your sheets to wake you up to play with them! This is often common if they don’t get playtime after a busy day at work for you or something similar.

They’re marking their territory

If your dog feels possessive of you, they’ll lick your sheets to mark their territory. Some of the most common situations for this are when you have a new partner join the household or bring home a new pet. Your dog will leave their scent on bedding by licking and communicate their territory to this new addition.

They’re stressed

We talked about stress above, but this refers to body stress. For example, if your room is too cold or too warm, they’ll lick to help get your attention to fix it. Or if something in the room is making them stressed out, such as a new fan, etc.

Once the room is more comfortable for them, this behavior should stop on its own. However, it’s essential to figure out what is causing this stress if it continues!

Are there any other reasons for this behavior?

Dogs do weird things for all sorts of reasons, so, yes. Some of the more random reasons for licking include:

  • Your dog likes your laundry detergent scent
  • Your dog doesn’t like your laundry detergent scent (and wants to mask it)
  • You have new bedding that smells “wrong”
  • The texture feels cool to your dog

It’s impossible to always know what’s going on in your dog’s brain, but this will help you understand their behavior.

How to stop my dog from licking my bed sheets?

Just because you understand more about why your dog licks as they do, doesn’t mean that you have to like it or allow it. Here are some tips to help you to get your dog to stop this rather gross behavior:

  • Determine the underlying cause
  • Address or fix the cause, if possible
  • Redirect the behavior each time
  • Be consistent
  • Reward only the positive behavior

Much like changing any kind of habit like this, the first thing to do is understand what’s causing it. Take some time to understand the reasons for your dog’s behavior and talk to your vet or a pet behavior specialist if you need to. If you can, address or resolve those issues.

If the behavior doesn’t stop on its own, redirect it with a command. You’ll need to be consistent in this and redirect it to help your dog learn what the problem is and what you want them to do.

Make sure that you are careful only to reward the positive behavior rather than the one you are trying to change so that your dog doesn’t get unnecessarily confused!

How to prevent my dog from licking my bed sheets?

If you are looking at stopping this behavior from happening or trying to make sure that, now that you’ve corrected it, it never happens again, here are some tips:

  • Don’t eat in bed
  • Give your dog plenty of attention 
  • Make sure your dog is eating enough
  • Understand your dog’s medical needs

Eating in bed attracts dog licking and bugs, so you’ll want to stop doing that. Plus, who wants to sleep with breadcrumbs, right? If you absolutely must eat in bed, you’ll want to change your sheet every morning or otherwise be prepared to have this behavior in your household.

Give your dog plenty of stimulation and playtime. This will help them bond with you, share that affection properly, and work out their energy to avoid getting bored or anxious other times of day or overnight. 

As per vet recommendations, keep your dog’s diet balanced using the proper nutrients and vitamins. Also, manage portion sizes so that they are eating enough throughout the day.

Lastly, you can manage conditions like OCD or pica with specialized help. If your dog suffers from these, be kind and compassionate and work with your experts to find the right plan.

In general

There are normal, abnormal, and random reasons for dogs licking your bedsheets.

Normal reasons include showing affection and sniffing out crumbs. Abnormal reasons include anxiety of pica. Random reasons include liking your laundry detergent.

While your dog could be licking your bedsheet for random or legitimate reasons, it’s a frustrating behavior that you can retrain! Learn when to step in and how to get this somewhat gooey behavior under control!

Know someone in desperate need of help with this? Share this with them!

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Andre Neves

Hi, I'm Andre and I'm the owner of Sula the Border Collie. I love writing about this amazing dog breed here. I joined the Council to be able to reach and educate more people on the joy of having a pet dog.