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Canine Behavior/Blanket sucking


My 14 month doberman loves sucking his blanket for an hour at times which I had no problem with as it totally relaxes him but recently I was told by my vet that this is bad as sucking could remove the enamel from his teeth,she said she had seen a case of this and it cost thousands in vet bills.
Is this a common problem or a rare case? Do I need to stop him sucking,I've limited him lately to couple times a week,he is a very destructive chewer at times. He loves to chew fom the minute he wakes .

SO very sorry it has taken me longer than usual to answer your question.

The "sucking" behavior you describe might be one of two things:
1.  Neonatal behavior (oral fixation) due to early (too early) removal from dam, thereby becoming a "calming" behavior
2.  A sign that the dog is suffering high anxiety for some reason I cannot see (since we can't sit down and talk and I can't get an eyeball on the dog).

I am not a veterinarian.  I did have a cat (for 14 years) who sucked as you describe and she never had a problem with her teeth but, again, I am not a veterinarian.

As I said, this "chewing" can also be a sign of oral fixation or high anxiety.  If you are able to do so, I strongly suggest you consult a VETERINARY BEHAVIORIST.  You can find one by calling the veterinary college in your area or by looking at the following site:

A Veterinary Behaviorist will give you THE answer regarding tooth enamel and will also observe the dog, listen to your experiences with the dog, and may suggest low level, short term anti-anxiety medication while you do some counter conditioning.

In terms of that (counter conditioning), I suggest you create a high trophy object: a stuffy intended for dogs.  Create this by carrying it around YOURSELF, treating it with affection in sight of the dog over the course of days (perhaps a week or two).  During this time, "teach" the dog take it/leave it:

Do NOT use the "trophy" for this but, rather, an article that the dog will easily learn to "leave" for the higher value reward of a treat (as seen in the video, which is btw from Dr. Ian Dunbar's site,  Once your dog DROPS any low level in importance article because he has learned to do so (not for food, but for praise and food), whenever you see him "sucking" his blanket, sit on the floor, whistle, or whine like a puppy, get his attention, hold out the "trophy", when he reaches you let him have it for a minute or two, then ask him to "leave it" and reward when he does.

Let's see if we can redirect this dog away from this sucking habit into a more complex THOUGHT PROCESS:  responding to your communication, accepting the trophy, leaving the trophy on cue (command).  Try this but remember, I really think the dog needs a more sophisticated evaluation by a Veterinary behaviorist; it will help enormously (although it won't be cheap).

Use followup feature please if you wish to communicate further.  What we do NOT want to do is disrupt the "calming" effect of his blanket, we want to REPLACE it with actual thought and CHOICE.

PS:  I have had TWO Doberman Pinschers and this is a fabulous companion dog, absolutely fabulous.  But they can be VERY high strung and at 14 months your adolescent dog might take as much as six months to one year to "calm down".  My first Doberman was named Rosebud after the "Citizen Kane" "Rosebud"....this was a very old movie.  Citizen Kane's dying word was "rosebud" and I used to joke that it would be MY dying word because MY Rosebud was so intense and so high strung well into her 2nd year.  What works to calm: engaging the MIND of the dog through positive reinforcement training AND game playing.  Kyra Sundance wrote a wonderful book about teaching "tricks" to dogs, I'm sure it's still available on Amazon.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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