Why Do Dogs Like Blankets?
You are definitely your dog's best friend, but a blanket is likely a close second. Whether wrapped in a warm bundle or pridefully parading their favorite fabric around the house, dogs clearly love blankets and the reason why is more science than softness. A puppy’s fondness for their cuddly companion is founded in both psychological and physiological factors. We will further explore the origins below and why it is a healthy practice to encourage #BlanketBehavior.
Dogs are ‘Maternal Den’ Animals
The ancestors of today’s domesticated canines were born and raised in a maternal den, a small and cozy dwelling providing protection from the dangers of the wild. Since newborn puppies are born deaf, blind, and immobile; mothers would create dens to protect their young against outside elements and potential predators. The den would serve as a safe retreat for the first 10-12 weeks of the litter’s life, until the pups graduated to familiar ‘meeting’ spots, where they could rendezvous with their four-legged friends.1
Fast forward 20,000 years later, dogs have become genetically predisposed to seek comfort in soft and familiar surroundings. This behavior can be noted in many dogs' attachment to their bed or tendency to retreat into their crate when anxious. Companion blankets can also offer this environment, reducing pet anxiety by providing a portable sense of familiarity and safety for a pup on the prowl. Serving as a ‘security blanket’, companion blankets can soothe the pooch in stressful situations.
A Keen Sense of Smell for Familiarity
Smell is believed to be a dog's most powerful and important sense. Canines possess up to 300,000,000 olfactory receptors, compared to the 3,000,000 in our noses. Additionally, the part of your best friend’s brain dedicated to evaluating smell is 40 times greater than yours!2 These factors have led scientists to believe that a dog’s sense of smell may be 100,000 times more acute.3 For instance, we might notice if our morning cup of coffee has an extra teaspoon of sugar added to it; however, a dog could detect the same amount of sugar in an Olympic sized swimming pool!4
The superiority of the snout allows dogs to detect and react to seemingly unnoticeable scents and studies have further shown that canines illicit positive physiological responses when they identify familiar smells. When a dog is presented with a variety of scents, the pleasure center in their brain responds most strongly to the scents of their owner and other familiar dogs.5 This research suggests that the familiar smell of a dog's blanket can reduce anxiety and evoke a positive emotional response. Furthermore, seasoning the blanket with the scent of a puppy's mother or the familiar smell of an owner can put your pooch at ease in stressful situations.
How to Encourage #BlanketBehavior
We are now on the same page, a blanket can and should be a dog's other best friend and can evoke happiness or serve as a means of comfort in stressful situations. So how can we use companion blankets to improve the lives of our loved ones? Follow the steps below:
- Choose the right blanket! Companion blankets must be made of organic unbleached material and should not contain dyes or any other harmful and synthetic materials. To learn more check out: How to Choose the Right Blanket.
- ‘Season’ the blanket with a familiar smell. If you are picking up your puppy for the first time, ask the breeder to let the mother cuddle with the blanket prior to pickup. Otherwise, have a cuddle with the blanket yourself! To learn more check out: Why You Should Give Your Breeder a Blanket.
- Ensure that the blanket is readily available in potentially stressful situations. For example, if your dog is not a fan of car rides, pack the blanket.
Companion blankets offer a safe environment, reducing pet anxiety by providing a portable sense of warmth and safety for pups on the prowl. Ensure you have a ‘seasoned’ blanket on hand for stressful situations.
Need a new blanket now? Click here to shop our companion blankets made from safe materials.
- "Are Dogs Really Den Animals?" ADRIENNE FARRICELLI, Pethelpful, https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Are-Dogs-Really-Den-Animals, accessed January, 01, 2021
- "Dogs Dazzling Sense of Smell" PETER TYSON, PBS, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/dogs-sense-of-smell/, accessed January, 01, 2021
- "8 Dog Nose Facts You Probably Didn't Know" PetMD Editorial, PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/behavior/5-dog-nose-facts-you-probably-didnt-know, accessed January, 01, 2021
- Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, Alexandra Horowitz, 2009
- "Scent of the familiar: You may linger like perfume in your dog's brain" Emory Health Sciences, ScienceDaily , https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318112026.htm, accessed January, 01, 2021