Why do dogs knead? If you’ve ever witnessed your dog kneading, you may probably know why your cuddly fur does that. For others, it can be a surprise to watch their dog kneading like a cat, leading to various assumptions.
Generally, dogs knead when they are anxious, winding down, or during sleep preparation. However, you may also find this trait common among pups, mimicking the nursing behavior of their mother.
Although kneading may appear cute and bothersome, it would be wise to investigate the reasons and recognize why your dog developed this habit. Dogs can become destructive owing to this behavior, and it would be best to take precautions before their bothersome action becomes a thrashing routine.
Why Do Dogs Knead
This article will help you understand this behavior properly and provide solutions to help your dogs knead without destroying everything else.
What Causes Dog Kneading?
Since territorial instinct is a common dog behavior, the ideal places for a dog to knead would be furniture, rugs, or ground. Dogs use their paw pads to transfer their scent and mark their territory. It keeps other dogs or animals from trespassing on your dog’s property, ensuring safety.
However, safety or territorial needs are not the only factors responsible for this dog behavior. Here are the other reasons why dogs develop kneading behavior.
- Maternal Instinct – Female dogs have their maternal instinct of creating a nest, which might sometimes result in kneading. It is common dog behavior and often makes dogs destructive.
- Temperature control – Sudden temperature fluctuations may also force your dog to knead. Since dogs don’t have sweat glands, they will start kneading to reduce their body temperature. Likewise, you may also witness your dog kneading to control body temperature during winters.
- The nursing effect – Dogs can be sensitive and always have a favorite object within their vicinity. These objects can be their go-to toy, blanket, or any other thing that they love. This trait is more common in puppies, especially when separated from their mothers early.
- Anxiety – Dogs may gather objects emitting their owner’s scent when alone. Since dogs are sensitive, they surround themselves with these items and knead to feel comfortable. It is an emotional attachment towards their owners and aids in this behavior’s development.
- Bed Time routine – Some dogs knead when they prepare for sleep, and you may witness them sucking or kneading their favorite plush toy, blanket, or bed. Many people associate this habit with puppies, but adult dogs also knead while they rest.
Although most dogs limit their kneading activities to their plush toys, blankets, or beds, some dogs may become destructive and damage your home. This instinctive behavior is natural, and your dog may not contain it.
So if you witness furniture tears or holes in your garden, it would be best to seek professional help to solve this problem. Veterinary experts will be able to medicate your dog and provide practical guidance to reduce this habit, helping your dog stay calm while kneading.
How Can You Prevent Dogs From Being Destructive?
Since kneading is an ingrained habit, it is quite impossible to prevent your dogs from kneading. However, you can follow specific measures to help them find an alluring medium than your yard or furniture.
Here are the measures you can take to prevent dogs from being destructive.
- Provide alternatives
Providing alternative objects to dogs may prevent them from being destructive. For instance, many cat owners provide scratch pads to their felines to control their kneading. Cats tend to scratch almost everything, meaning you might have tears everywhere. Scratchpad helps them satisfy their kneading requirements without compromising your home décor.
Likewise, you can do something similar for your dog by getting him a plush toy or bed. You can also employ a crate and stuff it with the blanket and toy to help him relate with these objects when you are away.
Tip: Before giving the plush toy and blanket to your dog, ensure that you rub your hands so that these objects pick your scent. Dogs love their owners, and your scent on these items will help them relate with their new best friends better.
- Build a dedicated space
If the above method fails to contain your dog from digging holes in your yard, you can build a dedicated space for his outdoor activities. Since dogs are active and require a lot of outdoor pursuits, building them a dedicated area is undoubtedly worth considering.
This section will suffice his kneading or digging requirements without compromising the entire yard. It is a win-win situation for everyone, and your fur friend will be more than happy in his new venturing ground.
- Short and trimmed nails
Keeping your four-legged friend’s nails trimmed and short is a good habit, and every owner must follow this rule. It maintains hygiene for your cuddly fur and limits his destructive abilities while kneading. In short, this healthy habit can save you a lot of time and money.
- Create bonds
Introducing toys, bedding, and blankets at an early age will help your fur friend create bonds, helping you in the long run. It helps your dog relate with these objects and refrains him from exercising his kneading requirements on other stuff.
It would be best to offer your dog these items when you bring him home. These objects will be an ideal initial start before he explores his new home or marks his favorite spot in your yard. Additionally, you can use your old clothes to make his bedding, ensuring that they will always have a sense of security and friendliness when they rest.
- Understanding your dog’s requirements
Dogs prefer scented and older items, including objects that smell like their owners. These items can be your favorite as well, and you might not want your dog to tear them apart. Although limited access to a particular area may solve this problem temporarily, it is not practical.
So what can you do? The best way to solve this problem is by training your dog and by providing him with a dedicated space to prevent his destructive abilities. It’s crucial to understand your dog’s requirements and adhere to his kneading needs to get the best results.
- Consider temperature requirements
As we mentioned earlier, dogs can knead when they experience temperature fluctuation. You can lower your room temperature or offer your fur friend more water if you witness your dog kneading on a hot day. These practices will help him cool down, reducing his kneading activities.
Likewise, dogs also exhibit their kneading skills during chilly weather and may find your furniture or carpet as the perfect kneading spot. It would be best to provide additional bedding or blankets to refrain him from dismantling your home décor.
- Spend time with your dog
Work or other commitments may force you to leave your fur friend alone in your home, leading to boredom. This weariness may lead to excessive kneading, which is not ideal for your dog and your home.
The best way to treat this issue is by spending time with your dog. You can increase his outdoor activities, including walks, playing time, or highway drives to limit his kneading requirements.
Spending quality time with their owners is a common dog behavior, and you should consider it to keep your dog healthy and active.
- Hire a professional
If all else fails, you can seek professional help to prevent your dog from being destructive. Experienced trainers can teach your dogs and help them find comfort in other activities. These trainers provide alternative ways to train dogs and help them refrain from excessive kneading.
- Avoid early adoption
Avoiding early adoption is also an ideal way to prevent excessive kneading as puppies weaned from their mothers at an early age tend to develop this habit. It would be best to wait for at least 8 weeks before bringing your new fur friend home.
Should You Allow Your Dogs to Knead?
Since kneading helps your dog relax and express his emotions, it would be best not to discourage him. However, always ensure that your dog stays within limits by encouraging him to follow healthy kneading habits and prevent him from being destructive.
Likewise, check the products that you offer him for his kneading requirements, as your dog might ingest something that will trouble his digestive system. Remember, kneading is an instinctive behavior, so limiting access or forcing your dog to get rid of this ingrained etiquette may result in other consequences.
So should you allow your dogs to knead? Yes, but ensure that you follow the above instructions to prevent your dog from being destructive.
Final Thoughts on Why Do Dogs Knead
Kneading in dogs has behavioral and instinctual roots and is common among anxious and sensitive dogs. Although dogs keep their kneading requirements to their favorite plush toys or blankets, they can sometimes become aggressive and destroy your home décor or yard.
Several measures like spending time with him or understanding his requirements can prevent his kneading requirements from becoming harmful. Besides, kneading helps your dog relax and calm down, and it would be best to keep it that way.
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