Why Do Dogs Knead Their Stuffed Animals

Why Do Dogs Knead Their Stuffed Animals

Hira Saleem

December 5, 2023 . 9 min read

As a dog owner, you’ve likely witnessed your canine companion kneading and sucking on a favorite stuffed animal or blanket. This behavior, often referred to as “making biscuits,” is common in dogs, especially when they’re puppies.

While the sight of your dog vigorously pawing and nibbling at their toy may perplex you, there are several reasons why dogs engage in this behavior. Understanding the motivation behind the kneading and sucking can provide insight into your dog’s emotional state and natural instincts.

What Does It Mean When a Dog Is Kneading?

When a dog kneads, it’s a charming behavior that often signifies various emotions. This action, reminiscent of a cat’s kneading, can be a sign of comfort and relaxation.

Dogs may knead to create a cozy spot before lying down or as a throwback to puppyhood, when they knead their mother’s belly to stimulate milk flow. 

Kneading can also indicate contentment, happiness, or a desire for attention and affection from their owner. While it’s generally a harmless and endearing behavior, it’s essential to consider the context and your dog’s overall demeanor to better understand the specific message they might be conveying.

The Fascinating Behavior of Kneading in Dogs

Kneading is a delightful and intriguing behavior observed in many dogs. This rhythmic motion involves your canine companion pushing their paws alternately against a soft object, often a stuffed animal or blanket. While it might seem peculiar, there are several reasons behind this endearing action.

One prevalent theory suggests that kneading is a throwback to a dog’s puppyhood. Puppies knead their mother’s belly to stimulate milk flow while nursing. In adult dogs, this behavior can be a comforting and soothing activity, reminiscent of the nurturing and security they felt as pups.

Types of Kneading in Dogs

Kneading behavior in dogs isn’t limited to a single form; it can manifest in various ways:

Comfort Kneading

Dogs often knead soft surfaces, such as blankets or beds, as a soothing and comforting action. This behavior is reminiscent of their puppyhood when they kneaded their mother’s belly to stimulate milk flow.

Affectionate Kneading

Some dogs knead their owners or other animals as a sign of affection and attachment. It’s a way for them to express their love and desire for closeness.

Playful Kneading

Dogs may knead their toys or other objects during playtime. This action can be part of their playful behavior, much like shaking or chewing on toys.

Territorial Kneading

Kneading with their paws can also be a way for dogs to mark their territory. Scent glands in their paws leave behind their unique scent on the surface they knead.

Stress Relief Kneading

In some cases, dogs knead when they are anxious or stressed. It can serve as a self-soothing mechanism to help alleviate their anxiety.

Each type of kneading can carry its unique charm and meaning, reflecting your dog’s individual personality and preferences.

Common Reasons Why Dogs Knead

Dogs exhibit kneading behavior for a variety of reasons. One common motivation is the need for comfort and relaxation. Kneading can be a self-soothing activity, providing a sense of security and contentment.

Additionally, it can be an expression of affection and bonding, reflecting your dog’s desire for closeness and connection.

Communication and Bonding

Kneading serves as a form of non-verbal communication for dogs. When they knead their owners or objects, it’s a way of expressing their emotions and seeking connection. It’s a behavior rooted in the deep bond dogs share with their human companions and can be seen as a gesture of trust and affection.

Seeking Warmth and Comfort

Dogs often knead soft surfaces like blankets or pillows as a way to create a cozy and comfortable spot. This behavior harks back to their evolutionary instincts, where kneading helped fluff up bedding materials and regulate body temperature. It’s a way for dogs to make their resting place more snug and inviting.

Easing Stress and Anxiety

Kneading can also be a coping mechanism for dogs dealing with stress or anxiety. Just as humans may engage in soothing actions like rubbing their temples, dogs knead to self-soothe. This rhythmic motion helps alleviate tension and provides comfort during challenging or anxious moments, offering a sense of security and relief.

Kneading as a Relic of Puppyhood

For many dogs, kneading is a behavior carried over from puppyhood. Puppies knead their mother’s belly to stimulate milk flow while nursing. This comforting and nurturing act often continues into adulthood, serving as a reminder of their earliest moments of care and security. It’s a sweet connection to their puppy days.

Recognizing Normal vs Problematic Kneading

While kneading is a natural and harmless behavior for most dogs, there are instances where it can become problematic. Normal kneading is typically rhythmic, gentle, and doesn’t cause distress to the dog or their surroundings. It’s often accompanied by signs of relaxation, such as purring or a contented expression.

However, if your dog’s kneading becomes overly intense, frequent, or is accompanied by signs of discomfort, it could be indicative of an underlying issue, such as anxiety or skin irritation. In such cases, it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any medical or behavioral concerns and ensure your dog’s well-being.

Why Does My Dog Knead His Paws?

When your dog kneads their paws, it’s likely an instinctual behavior carried over from their ancestors and early puppyhood. It’s a way to self-soothe, express comfort, and bond with you, their trusted caregiver. This gentle act is a heartwarming reminder of the close connection you share with your furry companion.

Why Does My Dog Knead and Bite The Blanket?

When your dog combines kneading with biting the blanket, it’s often a playful and affectionate gesture. Dogs use their mouths to explore and interact with their environment, and the blanket becomes a fun and comforting object to engage with. It’s a sign of happiness and a desire for play.

Why Does My Dog Knead a Pillow?

When your dog kneads a pillow, it’s likely an expression of comfort and contentment. Pillows are soft and inviting, making them an ideal object for kneading. This behavior is reminiscent of creating a cozy nest and can be seen as your dog’s way of finding warmth and relaxation in your home.

Why Does My Dog Knead and Bite Plush Toys?

When your dog kneads and bites a toy, it’s often a playful and affectionate interaction. Dogs use their mouths as a way to engage with objects and express their enjoyment. It’s a form of entertainment and a sign that your dog is enjoying their time with their favorite plaything.

Why Does My Dog Knead The Carpet?

Dogs may knead the carpet for various reasons. This behavior can be a throwback to puppyhood when they kneaded their mother’s belly for milk. It might also serve as a way to mark their territory, as their paw pads have scent glands. In some cases, carpet kneading can be a sign of comfort or an attempt to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Training and Redirection For Excessive Kneading

If your dog’s kneading behavior becomes excessive or bothersome, it’s essential to address it with gentle training and redirection techniques.

Begin by providing alternative outlets for their kneading instincts, such as providing a soft blanket or cushion specifically designated for this purpose. When your dog starts kneading, gently guide them toward their designated spot.

Consistent positive reinforcement, including praise and treats, can help reinforce desirable behaviors and discourage excessive kneading. Avoid scolding or punishment, as it can lead to stress and anxiety.

Consulting with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist can also provide valuable guidance in managing and redirecting this behavior effectively.

When To Seek Veterinary Advice About Kneading

While kneading is generally a harmless behavior, there are instances when it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian:

  • Excessive Kneading: If your dog’s kneading becomes obsessive, frequent, or interferes with their daily activities, it could indicate an underlying issue.
  • Accompanied by Discomfort: If your dog appears uncomfortable, in pain, or exhibits signs of skin irritation while kneading, professional evaluation is essential.
  • Sudden Behavioral Changes: If your dog’s kneading behavior suddenly changes in intensity or frequency, it may warrant veterinary attention to rule out any medical or behavioral concerns.

Your veterinarian can help determine if there are underlying health issues or behavioral factors contributing to your dog’s kneading behavior and provide appropriate guidance and treatment.


Understanding why your dog kneads is not only fascinating but also deepens your bond with your furry companion. It’s a natural behaviour rooted in instinct and emotion, often expressing comfort, relaxation, and affection. By recognizing the reasons behind this endearing action, you can better respond to your dog’s needs and strengthen your relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do dogs treat stuffed animals like babies?

Dogs often treat stuffed animals with care and affection due to their nurturing instincts. It’s a way for them to express their love and affection, similar to how they might care for puppies or young animals in their pack.

Why does my dog hold a stuffed animal in his mouth while sleeping?

Dogs may carry a stuffed animal in their mouth while sleeping as a comforting and soothing behavior. It can provide a sense of security and mimic the comfort of being close to their pack or mother, aiding in peaceful slumber.

Why does my dog knead his bed?

Dogs knead their beds as a natural behavior rooted in comfort and relaxation. It’s akin to creating a cozy nest and can be a soothing, self-soothing act that helps them feel secure and content.

Why does my dog knead me?

When your dog kneads you, it’s often a sign of affection and trust. This behavior, reminiscent of their puppyhood when they kneaded their mother for milk, signifies their strong bond with you. 

Hira Saleem

Hira Saleem


Hira is a dedicated freelance writer specializing in health and nutrition, holding a degree in Food Science and Technology. Her expertise in the field stems from a profound commitment to promoting well-being. Inspired by her love for animals, Hira has cultivated a deep understanding of the importance of nutrition in fostering a healthy lifestyle.

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