Dogster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why Do Dogs Nibble on Blankets? 6 Reasons for this Behavior

Written by: Oliver Jones

Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by Dogster Team

Chihuahua Nibble on Blankets

Why Do Dogs Nibble on Blankets? 6 Reasons for this Behavior

Chewing is an instinct for dogs. Breeds that hunt, herd, or guard are more prone to excessive chewing, but any canine can exhibit it. Sometimes, dogs chew out of frustration, to relieve anxiety, or because they are hungry.

Blankets are a favorite object for dogs to chew on, leaving their owners baffled as to what’s behind the behavior. It’s not just the blankets they chew on; any stray blanket is a target. There are several motivations for this behavior; your job is to figure out which one is behind your dog’s behavior.

Below, we’ll discuss six reasons dogs nibble on blankets and some ways to redirect the behavior.

The 6 Reasons Dogs Nibble on Blankets

1. It Provides Entertainment

Biting, nipping, and nibbling come naturally to dogs. If you watch a litter of puppies play with each other, you’ll notice that they nibble and bite one another in play. If they bite down too hard during play, the other puppy will yelp to let them know it hurts. This is also the way young puppies learn the concept of bite inhibition, which is an important life skill.

Some dogs outgrow their chewing behavior in puppyhood, while others chew their whole lives. Hunting dogs like Dachshunds, Pointers, and Spaniels are likelier to nibble blankets well into adulthood due to their natural hunting instincts. Large dogs are more prone to destructive chewing than small dogs, but this isn’t because small dogs don’t chew. Owners simply notice the chewing of large dogs more because they can do more damage.

Any dog who nibbles can develop a chewing habit. It’s a self-rewarding behavior. Once your dog learns that chewing on blankets is fun, they will keep doing it. It can also be a calming and soothing activity that helps them relax. In fact, many owners harness this quality to teach their dogs to settle, particularly with high-energy breeds like Border Collies or German Shepherds who have difficulty finding an “off switch.”

The catch is that your dog has to know what is acceptable to chew on and what isn’t. Otherwise, you may find your dog nibbling your arm in an effort to calm down.

Dogs Nibble on Blankets
Image by: Akintevs, Shutterstock

2. Your Dog Is Hungry

Sometimes, dogs chew on inedible items because they lack calories and nutrients in their diet. Even if it seems like your dog is eating well, it’s possible that their food isn’t meeting all of their needs. Other signs of a nutritional deficiency include a change in feces, hair loss, and low energy levels.

It’s important to ensure that your dog’s daily caloric requirements are met to maintain their energy levels. If you notice your dog is less active, less interested in activities, or lying around a lot, they may not be getting enough calories in their diet.

Carefully choose your dog’s food to ensure it contains all the nutrients necessary for your dog’s health. Checking the ingredient list is an easy way to determine the quality of dog food. It’s best only to purchase brands that adhere to the standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials.


3. Your Dog Is Bored

Dogs who spend long periods alone get bored. Boredom plays a significant factor in unwanted behavior, ranging from chewing on household objects to excessive barking. A good way to prevent your dog from chewing on blankets out of boredom is to ensure they have adequate exercise and attention before you leave for the day. When possible, it’s a good idea to get someone to take your dog for a walk at midday. If this isn’t an option, take your dog for a walk or run when you get home to burn off their pent-up energy.

While dogs enjoy consistency in their routine, they also love to explore and experience new things. Sometimes, mixing up your routine a bit can take the edge off your dog’s boredom. Try a new dog park, a new walking route, or take them for a swim. They might enjoy the change of pace.

When your dog is home alone, they may have difficulty discerning what is and isn’t okay to chew on. It’s your job to show what is acceptable. It’s crucial to provide a selection of toys and chews. If there are objects you want to remain strictly off-limits when you’re not there, store them in a secure area.

cane corso puppy chewing on a dog toy
Image By: Winsker, Pixabay

4. Your Dog Is Stressed

Dogs experience stress just like people. They can be stressed by moving to a new house, new surroundings, loud noises, or being home alone. Some dogs are more prone to experiencing stress and anxiety than others, but all dogs become stressed occasionally.

Signs that your dog is feeling stressed include pacing, constant yawning or licking, a decreased appetite, howling, whining, or an increase in sleep. Nibbling on blankets can be a way for your dog to relieve their stress. Much like a comfort object used as a toddler, your dog learns that chewing a blanket makes them feel better, and they will resort to this behavior anytime they’re feeling anxious.

If your dog is stressed because of a move or because they’re new to the household, it’s best to be patient. You can provide appropriate objects to nibble on, and most dogs will adapt to their new surroundings after a few weeks. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, consult your vet on how to help your dog gradually adapt to spending time alone.


5. Your Dog Is In Pain

Pain is usually a short-term issue. Teething puppies will chew on anything to numb the pain in their mouths. Offering frozen chew toys or a wet facecloth to chew on can ease their pain. Some dogs also suffer from allergies and nibble on blankets to relieve their suffering. Similarly, an injury can cause your dog to seek comfort through blanket nibbling.

Figuring out the source of pain and relieving it will  stop your dog’s nibbling behavior.

A-sad-labrador-lies-on-the-floor_Pernataya_Shutterstock
Image By: Pernataya, Shutterstock

6. Premature Weaning

A common reason dogs suck or nibble on blankets is that they were prematurely weaned from their mothers. Puppies should remain with their mothers for at least 8 weeks after birth, but this doesn’t always happen for various reasons. It’s not always an owner’s fault; occasionally, it’s completely out of anyone’s control.

However, behavioral problems can arise in puppies who were prematurely weaned. They’re not harmful to your dog, and with a little extra effort on your part, you can do the teaching that your puppy’s mother couldn’t.

In the case of blanket nibbling, puppies instinctively suckle their mother, so when mom’s not there, they find something else to suckle on. A soft blanket is often the next best thing.

Dogster_Website dividers_v1_Jan 18 2024-03

Is Blanket Nibbling Harmful to My Dog?

No, blanket nibbling isn’t harmful to your dog as long as they’re not consuming the fabric. If your dog’s blanket nibbling is bothersome to you, it’s best to redirect the behavior to a single blanket that belongs to your dog. Your dog can quickly adapt to chewing on “their blanket” only and not on yours.

The exception to this is if your dog has anxiety or pain. If that is the case, you’ll need to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Cute vizsla puppy playing with teeth cleaning chew toy for dogs
Image By: ABO PHOTOGRAPHY, Shutterstock

How Do I Stop My Dog’s Blanket Nibbling Behavior?

As stated above, chewing is best redirected to a more appropriate object. Giving your dog a blanket or several chew toys that they can chew on will often solve the problem.

Training your dog on what they can and can’t chew on can also stop unwanted chewing. Teach your dog the words “NO” or “STOP.” Issue the command when they are chewing on an inappropriate item and replace it with a chew toy. Use positive reinforcement and praise when your dog chews on their toys.

Summary

Dogs nibble on blankets for various reasons, often as a source of comfort, to satisfy their chewing instincts, or to pass the time. Dogs can also nibble if stressed, lonely, or in pain. Now that you know the signs to look for, you can determine why your dog is nibbling on blankets and whether you need to take extra measures to stop the behavior.

You may also be interested in:


Featured Image Credit: IAKIMCHUKIAROSLAV, Shutterstock

Get Dogster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Dogster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart

Pangolia

© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.