The first time you notice your dog licking your pillow, you will probably think it’s cute. But then you will start thinking about how many times this little incident has been happening in the past, especially when you weren’t at home; those thoughts of cuteness will quickly start to evaporate.
Think about all the nights you were sleeping on a pillow filled with dog saliva that’s been there for days. Not so cute anymore, is it.
So, you might be wondering, “why does my dog lick my pillow?” The short answer is:
Your dog licks your pillow because it tastes great. Your body sweats salt, and when you mix the salt with all the other oils from your skin, plus some of the lotions you might have been using on your hair and face, you have inadvertently concocted an irresistible smell and taste that compels your dog to lick your pillow like there’s no tomorrow.
However, there are other reasons as well, which we’ll get to shortly.
So, My Pillow Tastes Good?
That’s correct. Dogs enjoy the taste of salt just like we do. But to go one step further, your body secretes certain oils and sheds a lot of dead skin cells, that when combined, create an irresistible taste.
Certain lotions such as those that you use on your skin and hair are also culprits because of all the added scents that these products have. For some strange reason, these are dog magnets.
Now, I know that it’s true that not everything that smells great tastes great. But keep in mind that this is understandable for humans because of the amount of taste buds we have compared to dogs. Dogs have a powerful sense of smell but have fewer taste buds compared to us. If something smells great, they will eat it happily.
Your Dog Is Connecting with You
It’s not only about the taste. If you think about it, you spend a lot of time during the day with your head on the pillow. It’s only natural that those countless hours on your bed are helping your pillow to absorb a deep imprint of your odor.
While you’re not around, your dog will understandably associate your pillow with you. The powerful odor that resonates from your pillow will compel your dog to want to connect with you when you’re not around.
While your dog is licking your pillow, it is the same as if they were licking you directly to show their affection, and because you also happen to taste great. Either way, it’s because of you that your canine friend is behaving this way. Maybe you shouldn’t feel so upset with your little pooch, should you.
Well, there are reasons why you SHOULD feel upset, and we’ll get into that soon.
It Could Be a Coping Mechanism
Just like trying to achieve that connection with you is an emotional reaction, so is anxiety and fear. The reason why your best friend is doing this is because it is their way of dealing with these feelings.
For example, when you’re not at home, your dog could be suffering from separation anxiety, and so licking your pillow, which just happens to have the same scent as you, seems to be a great way to cope with this emotional issue.
The problem is that this could turn into a compulsive behavior if not dealt with as soon as possible.
You Have Been Inadvertently Rewarding Your Dog For Licking Your Pillow
Like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, when you first saw your dog licking your pillow, there was a big chance that you thought it was very cute. At that point, you might have also been very affectionate with your dog and dished out a lot of praise for their behavior.
Well, your furry friend probably thought that this was a sign that whatever they were doing was in fact good, and so if you have been repeating this behavior with them, your furry friend should be licking that pillow right off the bed.
How to Make Your Dog Stop Licking the Pillow?
Start by trying to find out the reason for the behavior. This is the tricky part because it might take a little time to figure out. However, it’s worth it. You really need to find out if it is due to something emotional or because your pillow just tastes great; otherwise, you might try a quick fix but still have a dog with emotional issues.
And this means that they will just look for another way to cope with their problem; which in most cases, won’t actually fix the problem and could cause more harm in the future.
If it’s because your pillow tastes great, then you might want to use a dog repellent spray. Of course, make sure that it is something that is also safe for you and doesn’t repel you from your pillow as well!
One of the most common repellent sprays for dogs are those that have a citrus smell to them, so this could be a good option for you if you don’t mind the smell of lemons or lime. Another option is to simply keep your dog out of your bedroom or to remove the pillow from their sight while you’re away.
The last option, and in my opinion, the better of the two, is to train your dog not to do it.
Be careful not to use negative reinforcement, as this can only make your dog more anxious. And again, keep in mind that even with training, it is still a good idea to find out why your dog is licking your pillow. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, training them without knowing this will only spell disaster for the two of you.
It’s important to first deal with the emotional issue before moving on to the training. It will also ensure that you choose the right type of training.
Should I Even Bother With Stopping My Dog from Licking the Pillow?
Yes! Dogs don’t have hands like we do, and so they rely on their nose and tongues. While it’s definitely natural for dogs to use their tongues as a way to figure things out, connect, or simply taste things, it doesn’t mean it’s always an acceptable behavior.
It becomes unacceptable when your dog is doing it obsessively. It’s also an unacceptable behavior if your dog is licking your pillow, because you rest your head on it every night when you go to bed. There is a risk of getting skin infections because of the bacteria in the dog’s saliva, so this problem can affect you and your family in a negative way as well.
Regardless of whether your dog is licking your pillow, your sheets, your hands, face, ears or everything else, if it affects you or your dog’s well-being, you need to stop the behavior. First try to find out why your dog is behaving this way, and then take the appropriate measures.