Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Object Suckling In Dog's

Harry at nearly 2 months old suckling on a sock

Just like human babies puppies can become attached to certain objects to sooth themselves. It is not very common but its a habit that is seen in some puppies and dogs.
Human babies grow out of their habit of suckling on a dummy or having a blankie.
The puppy usually continues their habit of suckling on something for comfort into adulthood. 

Adult dog suckling is not a bad behaviour, the dog should not be punished for it.

Puppies instinctively know how to suckle so that they can nurse of their mothers. Most puppies stop suckling when their mothers milk drys up, they start to eat solids but some puppy's want to suckle into adulthood.

The weaned puppies and adult dogs find great comfort in suckling on a non food object.
They will normally suckle on a a special toy or blanket. Something that has a familiar smell or feel.
They  may suckle for just a few minutes or hours.

Object suckling can occur in any breed of dog but it seems to be more common in working dogs such as border collies.

Even dogs that have had a perfect puppyhood, that stayed with their mothers and siblings the perfect amount of time have been known to be object sucklers into adulthood.

The gene has been discovered that is related to object suckling, it is believed to be the same gene to cause canine compulsive disorder and it is similar to the OCD gene in humans.
This was discovered through a collaboration between Cumming School of Veterinary Medicine, the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



Harry suckling a sock as a little puppy  
Why Do They Suckle

There a different schools of thought on why the dog wants to suckle on a non food item.

Some believe that it is due to a form of anxiety and  the suckling is done to calm themselves down.

Others believe that it is due to being weaned too early or taken away from their mother and siblings too soon.
Psychologist David M. Levey tested the theory that puppies weaned too early or not having their needs totally fulfilled by their mothers were prone to adult suckling.
He verified this theory by removing puppies too early from their mothers.

Puppies from large litters also suffer more from under fulfilled needs and therefore  are more prone to object suckling.
Deprived puppies start suckling on objects and continue into adulthood.


Orphan puppies are also known to be more prone to suckling into adulthood.
Harry the puppy in the pictures is an orphan puppy. We feed him milk from a puppy bottle until he was 8 weeks along with his puppy mush. 


There are two types of suckling that your pet may display. There is the habitual suckling which only lasts a few minutes usually before they go to sleep.
Then there is the obsessive suckling that last a few hours and the dog will not allow any interruption such as play, exercise, meals etc.
If your dog is very obsessive about his suckling you should contact your vet.




Harry a bit older still suckling a blanket





Harry suckling on a towel
If you remove your pets favourite suckling object the dog will usually replace it with something else.
If its not too much of a problem you should let the dog continue with his suckling.

A more problematic form of suckling is when the dog is suckling on their body. They usually will suckle on their flank. This suckling can damage the skin and needs to be taken more seriously. 
This type of suckling should be discouraged as it can lead to health problems.

Harry  at one years old suckling on a blanket
Harry suckling on the blanket his older sister Spot has no interest

Harry the dog in the pictures it seems was destined to become a suckle lover. He sadly became an orphan at a few days old. He is a working dog breed border collie. He had domineering sisters to give him anxiety. 
Harry luckily only suckles on blankets socks and toys he does not suckle on himself.
He does have favourite blankets that is washed regularly. He loves freshly washed blankets.

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