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Ask Amy: Why Does My Dog Suck…Pillows?

Ask Amy: Why Does My Dog Suck…Pillows?

No, this isn’t some anti-canine post about why dogs suck. Rather, this post and video helps explain why some dogs practice nursing behavior on objects, and suck pillows or toys. Maybe your dogs suck, too!

why dogs suck

“My name is Magic–and I’m a suck-aholic.” Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Why Dogs Suck

Has your dog ever had an obsession with a particular toy or object? It’s not at all unusual for kittens to nurse on their own toes, or the tail of a sibling. Just like with human infants, the behavior seems to be self-calming. Some dogs may outgrow the behavior as they mature and develop.

Dogs also can find stress relief by nursing on objects. Blankets, pillows and stuff toys are common targets. Licking or sucking can become an obsessive/compulsive behavior. For instance, Dobermans seem to indulge in “flank sucking” behavior and other dogs may lick-lick-lick a paw or toe until it becomes raw.

But in the case of puppies and even adults that indulge intermittently, it may not be a problem. (Magical-dawg told me to say that!). Now it’s your turn–what kinds of items does your pet target with licks? Do tell!

Of course, with THANKSGIVING tomorrow, there are lots more tasty things for dogs to munch. Just be sure they’re safe–a small amount of “treats” is fine but some can prove dangerous. Check out this article on people food for puppies to see what’s acceptable and what’s not–or even poisonous!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Oh Behave!

puppy licking dishes in dishwasher

Dogs aim to help us out–whether we want them to or not! Image Copr. Claire Hodkinson

In reality, pet-loving owners can have unrealistic expectations. Few of us speak “dog” or understand “felinese” at least without practice, and people easily misunderstand normal pet behaviors—and may actually encourage bad antics without even knowing any better. So what do you do?


Too often, these socially inept cats and dogs (and owners!) means the pet ends up in shelters! Yet there is help available that can literally can save your pet relationship or even the dog and cat’s life. To promote that idea, the Keep the L.O.V.E. Alive Behavior Express Tour sponsored by Ceva Animal Health and the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists may be coming to a city near you!

Dr. Marty Becker, America’s Veterinarian, is a spokesperson at the September 8, 2012 Dallas event (THAT’S SATURDAY, GANG!) where you’ll find free behavior tips, shelter pet adoptions, behavior demonstrations, giveaways and more. My friend and colleague Dr. Amanda Florsheim, a veterinary behaviorist, will also be on hand to field your dog and cat questions. For a preview, check out this hot-off-the-virtual-press radio interview with Dr. Marty at Pet Peeves Radio.


You really can’t separate pet behavior from their health and well being. For instance, the kitty that gets “creative” outside the box may, indeed, be a behavior problem to you but due to a health condition–or a combination of both. Getting the dog checked by the veterinarian can help pinpoint an anal gland abscess, for instance, that makes him snarl when approached from the rear.

The vet can also direct you to the best person for helping you with a potential behavior issue. Some puppy problems can be fixed with training from a reputable dog trainer. Kitty angst prompting frenzied furniture scratching may be soothed with some help from a cat behavior consultant’s tips about enriching the environment. And veterinarians are the ONLY folks able to prescribe medication (for physical or emotional issues) that may be the tipping point for solving big-time problems. Learn about some of the professional behavior organizations here.  You can learn more about questions to ask to find a dog trainer in this article. Of course, your local veterinarian should know who might be available in your neck of the woods. Many of my referrals come from veterinarians.

ComPetability: Dog Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Cat Behavior ProblemsComPETability: Dog/Cat Behavior Problems


Have you ever needed the help of a pet professional like a dog training specialist or a cat behavior consultant? Where do you go for behavior advice? Yes, you can find some solid, helpful tips on the Internet or even in my books–that first one on dog behavior problems is brand new!–but honestly, it’s a toss up how good “free” info might be, and it could do more harm than good. Your pets rely on you to get the best help possible. And the longer a behavior gets “practiced” the more time it will take to un-learn. Just sayin…

What are your top kitty or doggy behavior complaints? How do you manage them? Please share! And if you’re in the area, say “howdy” to Dr. Marty Becker and the other behavior experts at the event. They truly do want to help your pets behave!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay tuned for more news about my forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND!