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D2007-41

Dear Daisy Dog

My daughter sucks her thumb and clutches her baby blanket while she falls asleep. Once she’s asleep, Darby, my 2-year-old Doberman, steals the blankie, takes it to her own bed and sucks on it until she falls asleep.

Did Darby learn this behavior from my daughter? Will she give up this habit when my daughter outgrows her blankie phase?

Daisy Responds

Sometimes I chew things around the house, but nothing appeals enough that I want to suck on it. Then again, I’m not a Doberman.

Many Dobermans suck blankets, stuffed animals and other soft items. Blanket sucking is thought to be an inherited trait in this breed, so it’s unlikely Darby learned it from your daughter.

The behavior, which usually begins in puppyhood, doesn’t normally resolve on its own. In fact, it may progress to blanket eating – which can be fatal if the material gets stuck in the dog’s intestines.

Like Darby, most affected dogs suck fabric when they’re quiet or bored, but some suck when they’re anxious or aroused, for example, when they are separated from family, faced with a new situation or forced to tolerate loud noises.

If Darby’s blanket sucking escalates or develops into chewing – or worse, blanket eating – distract her to interrupt the behavior, and then give her a safe dog toy.

Avoid punishment, which can increase stress and intensify the blanket sucking.If this behavior modification isn’t effective, consult a veterinarian who specializes in behavior medicine.

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