Why Do Dogs Lick Their Beds?

by Jae Allen, Demand Media
    Dogs may lick their own noses as a submissive behavior.

    Dogs may lick their own noses as a submissive behavior.

    Your dog uses his tongue for many purposes -- eating, drinking, cleaning himself and communicating with other animals. There are several possible reasons for your dog to lick his bed. Understanding the likely reason will help you bond with your dog, and provide any necessary help.

    Biology

    A dog may lick her bed for biological reasons. Mother dogs commonly lick their puppies as a way of cleaning them. If your dog has recently given birth to puppies, she may be licking her bed because of a biological urge to keep her pups' environment clean. Other times, bed-licking may simply indicate that your dog is hungry or looking for food. Some dogs keep chews and treats in their beds -- licking the bed may occur when the dog licks up crumbs or chew pieces.

    Psychology

    Dogs are historically pack animals, and many of their behaviors are based in the psychology of working with a pack. A dog licking his nose may be signalling his submission to a dominant dog, or indicating non-aggression towards other animals and humans. Licking can also manifest as a symptom of anxiety, stress or boredom. Compulsive grooming behavior is commonly witnessed in dogs that are stressed or under-stimulated in their environment. Bed-licking may be a form of attention-seeking behavior. If you pay attention to your dog when he licks his bed, you may be providing the attention your pet craves.

    Potential Health Problems

    Animals commonly display licking, chewing or drooling behaviors when they are feeling nauseated. Some pet medicines can cause your dog to feel nauseous, especially if you give medications on an empty stomach. Changes in diet or significant consumption of human food can also cause a dog to become nauseated. Excessive licking can be a symptom of a medical problem such as gastric disease, liver problems or a neurological disorder. Consult a veterinarian if your dog's licking behavior changes significantly or is cause for concern.

    Management

    If your dog is licking his bed because of an underlying medical condition, your veterinarian will advise you as to the appropriate treatment options. You can manage and reduce licking behavior stemming from psychological issues by reducing your pet's anxiety and stress levels. Provide a consistent daily schedule and routine for your dog, praise good behavior and do not reinforce problem behaviors by increasing your attention levels. Feed your dog away from his bed, and make sure the bed itself is always clean. Provide daily exercise opportunities and a range of toys and dog chews to keep your dog occupied in the home.

    References

    About the Author

    Jae Allen has been a writer since 1999, with articles published in "The Hub," "Innocent Words" and "Rhythm." She has worked as a medical writer, paralegal, veterinary assistant, stage manager, session musician, ghostwriter and university professor. Allen specializes in travel, health/fitness, animals and other topics.

    Photo Credits

    • dog licking nose vizsla image by Paul Retherford from Fotolia.com