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Blanket Lust
An (seemingly) unstoppable obsession
Leo loves blankets, comforters and quilts...eating them, that is.

I am obsessed with blankets. Turns out, so is Leo. My blanket obsession began with a passion for textile design, which developed into a habit of buying any blanket, comforter or quilt that caught my eye. Leo’s blanket habit is related to mine: Whenever I bring home a gorgeous coverlet, he has to chew a gigantic hole right in the middle—as soon as he is left alone with it for more than 20 seconds.

Sometimes I think fate must have ironically brought Leo and I together, or that maybe Leo is saving me from the fate of being crushed under an avalanche of blankets when I open the linen closet. With Leo’s blanket-munching, I recognized there were two issues that needed to be addressed. First, Leo could not be left alone with blankets until he learned chewing on them is inappropriate. Secondly, he needed a positive outlet for his chewing, such as a chew toy.
Keeping Leo away from blankets worked for like a week. His tenacity for finding unattended blankets was borderline inspiring. I’d leave the bedroom door open for a minute while I went to grab clothes from the dryer: Gigantic hole in the blanket. I’d take a catnap on the sofa: Down feathers everywhere when I awoke.
Since keeping him away from blankets wasn’t going to happen, I tried taste deterrents, like bitter spray misted onto the blankets. Apparently, the only one affected by this was me. Many a nap was rudely ended by a bitter taste. After falling asleep in a blanket cocoon on the sofa (exhausted from watching back-to-back-to-back episodes of Cake Boss), my open mouth would inevitably make contact with the surface of the blanket. It was heinously gross. Meanwhile, Leo would power through the nasty flavor. For my sake, I gave up on the bitter spray.
My plan to redirect Leo’s affection from blankets to toys has been even less successful. Even after taking Leo to training specifically to pique his interest in toys, he drifts after more than 20 seconds unless it is something he can eat (like a bully chew or a Kong toy). I see a future with a morbidly obese dog curled happily on elegant, intact quilts.
The reality is Leo and I both have issues that need to be dealt with (though I’d like to think that I can curb my blanket-purchasing habit as soon as I can curb Leo’s blanket-eating habit). What next? Do I give Leo one blanket and designate it as his? Do I continue my two years of attempting to interest him in toys? Do I concede that maybe I won’t have nice blankets ever? Any suggestions?


Kate VandenBerghe is a recent graduate of the California College of Arts MFA program in San Francisco. She runs Paper Animal Design, her own freelance design company, and lives in Oakland with her two rescue pups, Skipper and Leo.
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Submitted by Anonymous | July 28 2010 |

We have had the exact same problem with our Jack Russell/Chihuahua, Olive! She loves any form of textile and has ruined two comforters. We tried the bitter spray, as well. I agree - it only affected us! I hope someone has a good solution!

Submitted by Sue | July 28 2010 |

Can you put the blankets up when you're not using them? So, when you get up in the morning, put the comforter in the closet safe from Leo? That way you don't have to monitor him so closely all the time to make sure a door is not left open. If he's chewing them while you're using them & awake, teach him "leave it," and then redirect to another toy. If he's chewing them while you're using them & asleep, crate him so he can't practice this habit.

I would not give him a designated chew blanket, as I don't know that he'll necessarily understand why this blanket is okay to chew, but others are not. I was always told never to give a dog a shoe as a toy because then the dog would not know what is a toy shoe and what is off limits. Instead, I just had to put my shoes away. You could try scenting one blanket differently from the others--say with orange extract or something safe--and that might distinguish it by smell, but I don't know if that would suffice. Also, I'd be worried about him ingesting parts of the blanket and causing an obstruction.

Finally, how much exercise/stimulation is Leo getting? Could it be that he's bored and maybe needs more physical and mental exercise (like a trick training class)? Along those lines, I'd suggest getting him more interactive toys like Buster Cube, Kong Wobbler, Canine Genius Leo toy, etc. and feed him his meals in those to tire his brain.

Good luck!

Submitted by Greytdog | July 28 2010 |

We had that problem too. I finally gave up and bought the dogs their own blankets. I went to Goodwill and purchased four queen size comforters for the price of a new one. Those go on the floor where the dogs can burrow, fluff, chew, whatever, to their hearts content. When I did that, the dogs started leaving our blankets alone. We haven't had a chewed blanket in 5 years. & the folks at Goodwill know me by my first name!

Submitted by Nan | July 28 2010 |

Have gone through similar issues with 3 dogs. All I can say is exercise, exercise, exercise. I know it sounds cliche, but a tired dog is a good dog. That, and a few stuffed chew toys of their own, cured all 3 dogs of the chewing habit.

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