Why Does My Dog Suck On His Plush Toy ?
When dogs are puppies, it is normal for them to suck on objects. But as they get older and continue to suck on things, it can become a problem.
By learning about why your dog continues to suck on things, you can find out whether or not it's harmless and how you can stop it. This will help you make sure he's as healthy as possible. You'll also see that sucking on his plush animal is actually beneficial to the dog.
WHEN DO DOGS LEARN TO SUCKLE?
When puppies are born, they know that they need to suckle their mother to get milk. They can usually suckle as much as they want, but at some point, their mother begins to push them away. At this point, puppies can probably start eating a mixture of wet and dry food, and then switch to dry food only when they are a little older.
Even if puppies start eating kibble, they may return to their mother to nurse, as this provides comfort and security. When a puppy goes to another family or when his mother no longer lets him suckle, he will definitely start suckling on other objects for comfort.
WHY DO ADULT DOGS CONTINUE TO SUCK ON OBJECTS?
Your dog may suck on objects such as plush animals, blankets or toys as an adult because he was unable to suck as a baby. He may have been taken from his mother too soon, his mother had problems with her milk, or the other puppies pushed him around and he couldn't access the milk. It doesn't matter if a human gave him a bottle, he may still get into the habit of suckling.
Just as human babies suck on a plush animal, blanket, pacifier or thumb, a dog may suck on a blanket because it is warm, comfortable and soft, just like his mother. It also reminds him of his mother's skin and fur. If a dog can't grab a blanket or plush animal, it may suck on toys, its owner's clothes or pillows instead. Unlike toddlers, they will not lose this habit as adults.
IS IT BAD FOR YOUR DOG TO SUCK ON OBJECTS?
If your dog is sucking on a stuffed animal, it's absolutely fine, because that's what it's for: it comforts him and relaxes him. If he sucks on blankets or other similar objects from time to time, that's not particularly dangerous either. However, if he does what is called "flank sucking", it can be dangerous. Essentially, flank sucking is when your dog takes part of his flank skin in his mouth and holds it in that position, which can be a compulsive disorder. It is usually found in Dobermans. As long as the flank sucking does not cause significant injury and your dog's health does not seem to be affected, this behavior is acceptable. If you notice that your dog is compulsively sucking on his flank or on objects, you can take steps to try to stop this behavior.
TREATING YOUR DOG'S SUCKING PROBLEM
If your dog is sucking compulsively, he may be anxious. Other signs of anxiety in your dog include chewing, barking, vomiting, tucking his tail, destroying objects, cowering and shaking. If your dog is not properly socialized, he can easily become anxious. You can socialize him slowly by taking him on walks and exposing him to different sights, sounds and smells. You can also take him to the dog park to meet other dogs and invite friendly people to play with him.
Other causes of anxiety include a traumatic event such as:
- An injury
- The loss of a human or another dog
- Moving to a new place
- Meeting a new person
If you have recently moved furniture or changed your dog's environment, this can also cause stress.
You can give your dog his favorite toys and plush animals, cuddle him, talk to him in a reassuring voice, use positive reinforcement and eliminate triggers, such as loud noises, as much as possible. Your dog will then be able to stop his compulsive behaviors.
THE DANGERS OF OBJECT-FEEDING
Although watching your dog suckle his favorite plush animal may seem strange, if it doesn't hurt him or become compulsive, let him indulge in the behavior from time to time as long as it doesn't become compulsive. You should also make sure that the toys and plush animals he or she sucks on are washed and cleaned regularly.
Be careful, however, with the ingestion of non-food items, which could contribute to the development of intestinal obstructions that can even be fatal. Some dogs even start sucking on their own paws or flanks, a behavior known as flank sucking (see above for more information on this). Dogs that do this repeatedly on their paws can quickly develop open sores in that area and require veterinary care.
Your dog may be sucking on his plush animal or other objects because he was weaned too soon. If he does this compulsively, you can train him not to do so and give him the right tools and products to overcome this problem (such as a dedicated plush animal). This will make him feel safe and comforted at all times.