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Silly Things Dogs Do: Sucking & Kneading Objects

Kneading is usually a habit associated with cats, but did you know that some dogs do it too?  Some dogs seem to develop a habit of kneading with their front paws, while they suck on a favorite toy, blanket, etc, at the same time.  It's something my Papillon Kitsune has done since he was a puppy, and since it was always normal for him I never put too much thought into it.  Although not as common for dogs as for cats, this type of behavior is thought to mimic how puppies nurse from their mother, and may be a comforting behavior.

My puppers mostly does this 'dance' right before bed, usually when the day is winding down and it's time to start relaxing.  Kitsune has always done it to his plush toys, but I've also heard about dogs who will do it with a favorite blanket, or bed.  Some people think this behavior is displayed mostly in dogs who were separated from their mothers too early, although this doesn't seem to be the case for most of the owners I've talked to.  Kitsune came to live with us when he was 9 weeks old, so wasn't weaned early.


This behavior is often compared to thumb sucking in human children.  Although most human babies outgrow thumb sucking, dogs who suck and knead items often do so throughout their entire lives.  The behavior can occur in any breed, however I have read that it is most common in working dog breeds, gun dogs, terriers, and hounds.  I've also read that this behavior is more common in dogs who are sensitive in general - dogs who are prone to anxiety, and who are less independent.

Whatever the reason, sucking on objects isn't a bad thing as long as they don't destroy and ingest any pieces of whatever it is they're sucking on.  Most owners I've talked to who have dogs that display this behavior find it quite charming, and don't discourage their dogs from doing it.  When Kitsune does it, it seems to calm him down and relax him.  Like I mentioned above, he does it almost exclusively right before bed time.  Just like I like to settle down with a good book before bed, Kitsune likes to have a nice snuggle with his toys to relax him before bed.

Have you ever had a dog that sucked on and kneaded objects?  What other silly behaviors do your pets display?  Comment below!

  • Taylor McKinley

    My dog is 11, I've had her since she was a puppy. She was taken at 14 weeks so she definitely was not taken too soon. She has always sucked on her blanket like a toddler does their thumb. It seems to be a relaxation technique for her, a way to self-sooth. She is an American terroir and I also think sometimes she craves something to focus on and has come to recognize that is a positive way to channel her need to focus if she's not satisfied with her stimulation from the day without breaking any rules. Totally healthy in my opinion!

    • Michelle

      My Kitsune is almost 7 and has done it since he was a pup too. He was 9 weeks when I got him. It seems like a relaxation technique for Kit too. He does it most right before bedtime.

  • Amy Allen

    My blue nose pitbull has always done this since she was a baby, she is now 4 years old.. She does it to blankets and pillows n falls right asleep a minute into doing this. I think it is soo cute n hilarious!!

    • Michelle

      I think it's cute too! I've heard of dogs doing it to blankets, but Kitsune's only ever done it to a select few of his toys.

  • habshockeygrl

    just found this, I have a GWP that is four months old and she loves to knead me! She always brings the same toy to chew on while she does it.

  • Fi

    My 11 year old Hungarian wirehaired vizsla has sucked on my thumb since he was 8 weeks old when I got him. It was so adorable when he was a puppy and still is, even if people do think it's a bit strange ;o) He usually does it when he's sleepy, but also sometimes if he's got over excited or if he's in an overwhelming situation. It's definitely a comforter for him. It's so cute when he falls asleep with your thumb in his mouth! Hes just gorgeous :o)

  • Jane Nicholls

    Our Schnoodle, Jack, came to us when he was 13 weeks old. He's now two-and-a-half. One of the first toys I got him was a Hungry Caterpillar pillow pet. When he was a puppy, it was way bigger than him, and he loved to lie on it. Now he has a selection of pillow pets ... the Hungry Caterpillar is still his favourite. And this is what he does with least once a day and while it does seem to be maybe when he's tired, really it can be at any time. It's so cute.

    • denise

      Omg, my 1 year old shih tzu does the very same thing with her lady bug pillow pet......she had 4 different ones that she simply loves.

  • Susann monk

    I have a chaweenie that's bout 9 months old. Got him at 8 weeks old. He is very small, so I suspect he was the runt. I just noticed that he's been sucking on his favorite blanket. He don't fall asleep doing this, but well relaxed. It can be any time of the day. When I saw this, I felt bad. Felt like I'm not being a good mom. But thanks to the readings here, I know that's not the case. Thank you!!

    • Corinne Steele

      My dog exactly...except differen breed.

    • Rachel

      Same kinda dog and she does it all the time! I love it and tell her how much mommy loves her

  • wb7ptr

    I have a little white mixed breed who does this. She's several years old and I decided to research the behavior out of curiousity and ran across this article. Interesting.

  • Stephanie Lynn Ryckman

    I have a 6-year old Labradoodle--sweetest dog ever. She holds blankets between her paws and in her mouth and falls asleep. She never chews or destroys the blankets. It's one of the sweetest little quirks she has!

  • Corinne Steele

    I have a border collie-cattle dog mix who does this. He is 8 mos old and has done it since i got him. He was rescued. He was very small..may have been weaned too early...and hes also very sensitive.

    • Melissa

      I have a border collie/blue heeler, malamute mix too. He's definitely been taken from his mom to early, he kneads like crazy but only after trying to settle down from his 4 am pee. I always put it off as being taken from his mom early.

  • Caz Wilson

    I have a 1 year old chihuahua who sucks her toy and kneads at the same time. I got her at 3 months old. I only noticed this after she had meningitis and I reckon that made her quite sensitive.

  • Ringoffire

    My Chloe does it too, I thought it was odd at first but I did come to figure out that it's a comforting thing for her. She's half Bishon half Shih-tzu, 4 years old.

  • Barbara Cox

    We have a 7 month old Beagle that started this about a month ago and thought maybe it was because she was cutting teeth and felt so sorry for her.Now that I know this is normal I feel better for her.thanks!!

  • Tonya Eaяle

    My 7 month pug has her favourite octopus and I have noticed every night she will find this octopus and starts to suck and kneading it and then falls asleep with the octopus still on her mouth, I have another dog and chi-Pom who turned 2 years last week and when she goes near the octopus our pug runs over and protects the octopus growls and takes the octopus to another room

  • Angela

    So crazy! I've been wondering why my puppy does this! I have a bull puggle whose 4 months old and does this anytime we're hanging out in bed. Above or under the blacket his mouth locks on to my leg and he could sit there forever! Then his two front paws start kneading the blanket. It's the cutest thing ever and it keeps him quiet so I'm not complaining

  • Nativelotus

    My 1 year old chihuahua Zoey sucks on her pillow pet. She has the area molded to fit in her mouth just right. She's never suckled anything else but this pillow pet! She's very sensitive; and needy. She even pouts if she's told not to do something! Also, she sleeps under covers rolled up in a ball!

  • Kat

    My 8 month catahoula just started doing this with her bed, and my dachshund also did this when she was young!

  • Judy

    My 1 year old male Newfoundland dog at times puts his mouth over his big Teddy Bears body...head or arm or leg and just holds his mouth on it and lies there or at times falls asleep. He is not doing anything like sucking or pawing it, just puts it in his mouth and stays there. Just wondering why, he never did it before. He was with his mother till 3mths. Hmmm but he likes it I guess, seems happy.

  • Martha

    Our 9 year old Yorkie was the largest of the litter and he suckles on a stuffed Clifford the Big Red Dog. It has been degutted and looks terrible but he loves it. He uses his paws to hold the stuffed toy in his arms and suckles usually before bedtime. We got him at 10 weeks of age.

  • Td

    One of my dogs had been doing this with blankets for four years and I couldn't work out what it was.

  • yogz

    My Abby does this 3-5 times a day on a big stuffed bear , it' her momma bear lol and she doesn't like anyone touching it or moving it , but it's like her own little meditation , we call it the "baby thing" ..Abby has to do the baby thing she looks at us, and she even does it on command too, she's so silly .

  • steve.r hudson

    Our dog is a Jack Russell terrier, he was a rescue dog and we got him when he was around 18 moths old. He's always done this with his duvet, it's his bed and his friend, mostly he does it in the evening or sometimes when over excited or distressed.

  • Jenny Underwood-Kleinschmit

    I have a pocket pit that took over my 5' teddy bear. She sucks on it throughout the day and it makes her so happy 🙂

  • Shea

    Our seven year old Olde English Bulldog tears up everything except his gorilla puppet toy. It soothes him to sleep every night. I have darned it in the worn places to keep it "nice" haha!!!

  • Debs

    My Staffordshire bull terrier does this. He's a rescue, he came to us at 2 years old. He's doing this right now with my dressing gown which he took to be his own 4 years ago after a stint at the vets for a tummy upset. He is an anxious dog and I don't think this will ever change. But he has a great life. Goes everywhere with us. Doesn't like it when we go out without him. He's the best dog ever and we are a great team. Wouldn't change him for the world ❤️

  • George Henry Furber

    My cocker spaniel does it with his blanket every night around the same time

  • Morgan Strong My old english bulldog suckles on her toy atleast once a day. Just the one, its a plush. She has many stuffed toys ( has not yet destroyed any!) but this one is her special one, she even picked it off the shelf at pet smart, comical girl. She lays on its body and will fall asleep sucking the head of her gingerbread stuffy, licks it all the time. I got her at 10 weeks old she is now nearly 7 months old. Love her to pieces, shes such a amazing pup. Her name is Frankie.

    • Bethann Siviter

      My dog picks out her own toys too.... adorable dog u have

  • taylorjoann2

    my 7 month old German Shepherd does the kneading and sucking on her stuffed toys. She falls asleep while doing so and does it 2 or 3 times a day, never at a regular time. I got her exactly at 8 weeks old. Although she is normally upbeat and in good moods, when she's separated from me she goes through severe seperation anxiety, and is also timid and scared of certain things. It's definitely relaxing and seems like a nurturing habit when she kneads/sucks on her stuffed toy! I do not discourage it though! Actually find it quite adorable and funny. She's an awesome puppy.

  • Cathy

    Finally a link that explains this behavior. My 8 month old female maltipoo has done this as a pup and continues. But it's always been towards me. If I'm on the couch. It will be my backside. If I'm on the floor. It will be my crotch or upper leg. Usually after some praise if I'm sitting. Some times I tell her she is going to suffocate. She digs her nose so far into the area...then I end with. How will I explain this? Does anyone else experience it in this manner. I take her to dog parks. She is a bit timid.

  • Rania Fakhoury

    My dog kneads his toys and you guys hit it on the nail. He was rescued from a crappy breeder who most likely would have sold him to dog fighters. He was 5 1/2 weeks old when we got him, he will be 8 in October and he kneads all his stuff animals when he first gets them. Aww my poor baby

  • Bethann Siviter

    I have an intelligent, confident, gentle-spirited black lab, she is specifically trained as an assistance dog- her routine is --- find the 'baby-du-jour' (she has way too many= her current fave is an elephant she had as a puppy), thrash me with it (my job is to animate it and tug it, and she makes this clear), thrash herself in the face and head with it (she likes floppy babies) and then only after it's been adequately "subdued" she sucks on its face or head (its the only part she does this to).... she doesn't like when the babies are ripped (she brings them back and pushes them at me). The trainer said it was important to ensure I can remove the baby from her during any part of this process, which I can, but despite some people saying you shouldn't let the dog "win" a game of tug, I let her as its clear she really enjoys "chawing" like this. She doesn't chew or shred anything (unless its edible then its all over).

    She was from not only a reputable but a prestigious breeder (if her parents knew she worked for a living they would 'roll over') and was assessed by a specialist dog behaviourist before being placed into the development programme, so I doubt she was not properly weaned. She is not anxiety prone: on a daily basis she handles large busy crowds, loud noise, being started- she even likes fireworks (she wants to watch). I really enjoyed your blog: thanks so much!

  • Sandra Sandel

    My MinPin Ruby lays on her side, sucks on the fuzzy blanket we sleep with, or her bed and kneads her front paws. It is absolutely adorable. She is very attached and needy for a dog. We rescued her and she shows her love for us every day!

  • jacki slonin

    I have a male Cocker Spaniel, Truman, who has done this since he was a puppy. His favorite item is what we call his "love ball". It is a soft stuffed soccer ball. We have smaller one sand big ones. During the day he will grab the smaller ones when he is looking for a nap bit at night the bigger one is the one he takes to bed. With paws on either side and the ball placed ever so comfy in his mouth be is off the dream Land for the night. Always the same routine. He is not aggressive over his love ball but if our Frenchie takes he just looks like he is about to cry.
    He fits all the criteria. He is anxious, very sensitive and sweet.

  • Natalie

    I have a 4 month old Siberian husky that was separated from the litter and his mom at 18 days old and the does this

  • Sue

    My jack russell has always done this just before going to bed his mum colapsed a day after he was born so had to be hand fed and 5 others for the remainer of time till we brought him

  • Shana Rufatt

    My toy Pomeranian does this with his teddy's foot all the time! I found it so bizzare but adorable, now I find it even more adorable ❤ I just hope he isn't sad/missing his mum.
    He usually falls asleep while doing so, on his teddy 😌

  • Wendy Brown

    My dog sucks on a squeaking tennis ball and goes to sleep.we take the squeaker out as soon as we get them home.he looks so cute doing it.he kneads it and starts sucking on it when we go to bed

  • Pat

    Our 2 year old white husky is one of the dogs that was absolutely taken from mom way too young. We were not his first or even second owners, or I might actually want to throttle the breeders that tossed this pup out into the world far, far too early. She was still figuring out how to eat from a dish and bowl when we got her, and she had already been away from mom for at least 1, maybe 2 weeks. The people who had her before us, said that their little boy was allergic, but I am willing to bet that it was more a case that they could not control her behavior, and the problems she was having. She was whiny and missing her family, nursing, and the comfort of the pack. In short, she was actually an emotionally abused pup. I do not know if she had begun to form any attachments to the family before us, but I am willing to bet they did a lot of scolding, because she chewed on everything even people. So we were her 3rd family in her short confusing life, and it is no wonder that she still has some separation problems even as an adult. Some of the things that helped with our little white fur ball was surrounding her with big stuffed animals. They took the place of the first family she had lost. I also spent nearly 24 hours a day at her side for a very long time, helped her to figure out the eating business, and stopped her from biting people. She still has separation issues if all the people leave the house for any length of time, but not like she did in the beginning. and when she is anxious, she will suckle on one of her stuffies paws or snout, and occasionally will knead the stuffed animal at the same time. It is her way of self calming when she becomes fearful, or over wrought. She has her quirks, but other wise is this gentle loving animal, who is so very sweet that you can not help but adore her.

  • Sierra

    I have a beagle who does this at nap time, bed time, and when he's just chillin. He also like to share his bed and blankets and will attempt to drape them over people before he starts sucking and kneading it. It definitely isn't because he was weened too young as he was about 5 months old when he was adopted out from his mom. Personally I find the habit adorable.

  • Marcella

    I have a blue heeler who is a year and a half. She sucks on her blankie and kneads it with her paws. Also she'll suck on my hand like a straight up sucking like a baby. I don't know why so was just researching it. She's a mommas girl so she follows me around and cries for attention.

  • Shaz2028

    My jack Russell pup is 5 months old and he does this too .it is quite cute, but my throws and anything else he gets his paws on have soaking wet corners ,!! I.makes me wonder if it's because he misses his mum ❤️

  • Lisa Brundridge

    I have a 6 month old Corgi she does this every night. Her mother died during birth, she was bottle fed, I think this is why she does it

  • Cheryl S.

    Our two litter mates who are Cocker Spaniels left their mother dog at age 14 months. They love suckling at nap time and bed time. We think it is adorable and would never stop them. We are retired and they get loads of attention and are very happy dogs😋.

  • Cheryl S.

    Oops! 14 weeks. Not months.

  • Lorraine Borgese

    My male dog, a 4 year old Shi Tzu has been kneading and sucking on blanket since a puppy. He was 8 weeks old when I got him from pet shop. He’s doing it right know as I text this. I always thought it was bcoz he was taken from his mommy prematurely.

  • Lorraine Borgese
    • Lorraine Borgese

      Actually it’s my blanket but I let him bcoz he so dang cute 😊

  • beachinfrizzy

    Our 8 month old female Couton puppy does it with my daughter's stuffed animals. She humps them and then kneads them when she's settling down to go to bed. She'll even fall asleep with still a mouthfull of teddy bear ear or snout. My 12 year old Bichon never did this; but he was almost 6 months old when we got him (the Couton was 9 weeks) so maybe it's something they eventually grow out of, like a little kid thumbsucking.

  • Lisa

    My 5 year old king Charles spaniel has just started exhibiting this behaviour with his favourite teddy. He lies on my legs holding teddy in his mouth and kneads my legs underneath teddy! He is a very clingy dog and quite anxious but he only does this on a night before bed.


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