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 it...at 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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3ju7mbzM5o

    • 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

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b94f6e4eeda4f504b97ebd794192e7ffcab7a3993b16f208c3aa62f29796c892.jpg 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.

  • 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.