“Oh. Wait a second.
You smell of a pizza house!
Did you eat a whole pan without me??”
Dogs may often go on a sniffing frenzy. They’ll go crazy especially when you get home.
And there are times when you can’t seem to understand them.
Why do they do that? How can you stop them?
Keep reading to find out:
- 7 surprising reasons why dogs sniff your clothes.
- Why dogs do it even while you’re getting dressed.
- What attracts them to your dirty laundry and if it’s safe for them.
- 3 simple yet effective tips on how you can change this weird behavior.
- And much much more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog sniff my clothes?
Your dog sniffs your clothes to know how your day was, where you’re going, what you’re going to do, whether you’ve been with other dogs or animals, what’s new about you, your mood or if something’s wrong with your body. They may also do it to calm themselves or just because they’re rewarded for it.
People also ask:
7 reasons why dogs sniff your clothes
#1: To know how your day was
Did you know that the area for processing odors in dogs’ brains is 40 times bigger than human’s?
It’s because dogs see the world through their noses. Way different from us, humans, who greatly rely on sight.
So, you might notice that they’ll try to get a whiff of something. The reason behind it is that they’re trying to understand it better.
And your dog might be doing it with your clothes because they contain your whole adventure for the day. They want to know how your day went.
By smelling, they can be detective-sniff-it-all. And know everything you did.
They would be able to know what places you went throughout the day. Whether you went to your job, your favorite cafe, a shopping mall, or visited another house.
They can also determine if you’ve met new people or spent time with your old friends.
Besides, they can recognize all the food you’ve eaten in what you’re wearing. Even if you sprayed some perfume to hide it. It’s because they can smell as good as humans can see.
If you’re able to distinguish things from a pile, dogs can also sniff everything within those layers. They’ll know if you’ve eaten a pepperoni pizza, a chocolate doughnut, a burger, or anything.
So there’s nothing you can hide from them.
#2: To find out your plans
Your shorts and shoes smell like mountains.
Are we going on a hike??”
Believe it or not… Some dogs will know where you’re going or what you’re going to do. Just by analyzing the pieces you’re wearing.
For example, you got a call from work. They told you that you’d be meeting someone urgent.
So, you put on a suit that you’ve worn a few times in the office. And while you’re dressing up, your dog came up to you and started smelling your clothes.
But after that, they whimpered and got sulky.
And they got sad because they know you’re going to leave them alone.
So how could they know it?
Your dog knows that it’s not usually time for your job. So they’ll wonder where you’ll be going. So, they’ll sniff the outfit and shoes you’ve picked. And recognize instantly that you’ve worn them before when going to work.
Those clothes might be reeking of an old building. Or have the scent of documents and photocopying machines.
#3: There’s an unfamiliar scent
“I know this smell…
It’s the smell of betrayal!”
It’s true. Dogs can tell if you’ve been around other canines. Or even other animals.
If they do, they’ll be sniffing you and your clothes a lot more than usual. They may also jump, move their whiskers, and with their eyes wide open.
They’re acting like that because they’ve smelled something they’re not familiar with. And they’re wondering who it was.
So, if you went to a friend’s house and played with their dog, your pooch will know about this.
Of course, it also works with other animals.
Let’s say you’ve visited a horse ranch and petted some stray cats along the way. Your dog will go crazy and will sniff you all over when you get back.
Even though you’ve met a lot of animals, they can still distinguish each one of them.
It’s all thanks to those pheromones that are stuck on your clothes or body. Even if you didn’t touch them.
Or even if they just rubbed their head against you for a split second or touched you with their paws. Those will immediately give away that you’ve been around them for quite some time.
Fun fact: Dogs can also get other dogs’ information by smelling their pheromones. Like their gender, places they’ve been to, meals they had, and even their mood at that time. They’re like social media, but for animals.
#4: To calm down
“Don’t worry. You can go now.
I’m just going to sulk here. And sniff your favorite shirt until your return.”
Dogs may also do this when they’re anxious. Or suffering from separation anxiety.
What happens after you leave them?
Of course, they’ll be sad. They’re going to miss you.
So, while waiting for you, they do this to comfort and reassure themselves. They’ll sniff the clothes you left on your bed or the ones you put inside your laundry hamper.
They’ll find something that will remind them of you. And your garments are perfect for that because they have your scent.
It can be compared to whenever you’re missing someone. You might want to look at that person’s photo or hold on to a thing that reminds him of you.
#5: There’s something new about you
Your dog doesn’t usually do it, but then they suddenly sniff your clothes.
You might think you smell bad or they don’t like your shirt. And it could offend you.
But, the real reason is, it might be because they smell something different on you.
Dogs smell because they’re curious. They want to know what it is.
And that ‘something new’ could be that perfume your friend just gifted to you recently. Or a new brand of detergent or fabric softener that you’ve tried yesterday.
They can also determine if you’re having a new diet.
For example, you now smell of veggies and salad dressings after turning a new leaf or changing your lifestyle. Because they’re used to the scent of greasy burgers and potato chips on you in the past.
#6: To check your health
Dogs can’t only detect bombs or drugs.
Some can even smell diseases with no training at all.
And speaking of that, have you heard the news about two dogs in the UK who can detect malaria by smelling people’s socks?
It’s great, isn’t it?
But how’s that possible?
It’s said that those who are infected with malaria parasites have a different odor compared to those who are uninfected. It can be found particularly in their breath or skin.
They might not always be accurate. But, if you notice that they’re only sniffing one particular part of you. And they do it persistently. And still do it even if you change your clothes, it might be something else.
#7: To discern your mood
“Why do you seem so blue?
Are you mad at me?
Aha! There’s only one way to find out.”
You might be thinking that they could only know your mood through visual and auditory clues. Like your facial expressions, tone of your voice, or body language.
But, a study says that dogs can even smell your emotional state. And that they can also be affected by it.
Yes, they’ll know whether you’re happy or not. Or if there’s a feeling of fear or excitement within you. Even if you try to hide your feelings so that they won’t show physically.
Your dog might sniff you out of the blue if they noticed you’re feeling under the weather. Or if they aren’t sure how you feel.
They’ll get closer and smell you to understand the situation better. And to also know how they can make it up to you.
Aren’t they such smart and thoughtful creatures?
#BONUS: You rewarded the behavior
Do they smell your clothes for no clear reason?
And you’re sure of this because you didn’t go out and leave them alone, or used any new products.
Well, it might be because this kind of behavior was often rewarded.
It wasn’t probably your intention to do so. But you might’ve offered them treats or toys several times before, every time they sniff you. You only did that to distract them and redirect their focus on something else.
But, your dog might’ve taken it the wrong way.
And thought, “Oh, I see. I get delicious food and toys whenever I go to them and smell their clothes. I should do it again!”
And that’s how it might’ve gone – wrong association.
Is it bad if my dog sniffs my clothes/dirty laundry?
It’s not bad if your dog sniffs your clothes or dirty laundry. They’re just investigating something. They might also do this because they have your scent and it calms them down. It’ll only be alarming if they start to chew and bite them aggressively. Nonetheless, there’s no harm in smelling them.
3 tips if you want to stop your dog from sniffing your clothes
When their sniffing becomes inappropriate or often causes you headaches, it’s time for that behavior to change. Teach them how to refrain from themselves in certain situations.
Below are some things you might find helpful:
#1: Lessen their anxiety
If your dog keeps on relying on your clothes to make themselves calm down, it may lead to a more serious problem.
You can avoid them from becoming so anxious every day by:
- Offering new toys.
- Trying new outdoor activities.
- Playing and staying more by their side.
- Giving them enough attention – and cuddles!
- Providing them consistent training (simple tricks will do).
If it seems like there are no changes in their behavior, see your vet at once for proper assessment.
#2: Teach them how to sit and “leave it”
Sitting is the most basic command you can ever teach to your dog.
Just show them a treat to make them look at you. Put your hand (with the treat inside) near his nose.
If you get their full attention, slowly raise your hand upwards. This should make them point their nose and mouth up.
Which causes their bottom to touch the ground. And hence, the sitting position.
Reward them as soon as they assume this posture. And repeat several times.
Now, if they’ve mastered sitting, you can go on and teach them how to leave something.
Whenever your dog tries to smell your clothes, say “no” with a firm voice. They’ll not obey you right away. But never shout or punish them for it will only cause fear.
After saying “no”. Say the “sit” and “leave it” commands. Then give them lots of treats and praises when they obey you and stop sniffing. You can also offer a toy along with the food.
Be sure to repeat the steps until they adapt to them.
Note: These tricks can be learned easily while they’re still young. But, there’s still a chance for older dogs. Just be patient and trust the process. And never resort to using force.
#3: Avoid encouragement
If your dog loves to smell your clothes because they got used to getting rewards before. Maybe it’s time to change it all up.
You’ve used treats as a form of distraction in the past. But now, you should use them properly as rewards.
So, whenever they come to you and have a sniff, distance yourself from them. Don’t give them a chance to do it again.
When they sit or stop getting any nearer to you, give them the treats immediately. Then shower them with praises or pats.
By doing this, you’re both teaching your dog how to behave and refrain from constant sniffing.