Are you worried that your fur baby is a canine kleptomaniac?
This realization might’ve hit you when you found your missing socks in your dog’s favorite spot. Or even under your bed, all chewed up.
Or you often come home to a fallen hamper with dirty laundry scattered on the floor.
Did it come to a point where your dog is giving you a workout? Like making you chase them around the house while running with your sweaty shirt?
I bet you’re curious why your dog steals your clothes, right?
If you’re looking for answers and you want this habit to stop, you’re in luck.
In this article, you’ll discover:
- The answer to why dogs take your clothes.
- 11 reasons why dogs like stealing your clothes.
- 5 tips to stop your dog’s clothes-taking behavior.
- Whether this behavior of your dog is worrying.
- And more…
Table of contents
Why does my dog take my clothes when I leave?
Your dog takes your clothes when you leave because it’s in their DNA to scavenge. It can also be due to their instinct to chew on something soft, like furry or feathery prey. Some enjoy gnawing anything they can get their mouths on. Other canines steal clothes due to anxiety, teething, or boredom.
11 reasons why your dog takes your clothes when you leave
#1: Scavenging is a natural instinct for dogs
Fido could be manifesting their history to scavenge.
They look for something that smells appealing. The item can either serve as a toy or a tasty meal.
Our dogs’ hunting abilities are becoming less reliable due to domestication. Still, they take every opportunity to sniff out smelly things to eat or play with, even underwear.
Many dog parents have seen their dogs doing things they shouldn’t.
Like diving through garbage bins, stealing food from counters, or rummaging through the laundry.
These examples show what opportunistic scavengers dogs are.
#2: The soft texture satisfies their inner predator
In the old days, canines hunted for small creatures with feathers or fur. They usually hunt ducks, field mice, and rabbits.
For them, chewing clothes is like chewing on their favorite prey.
And it’s not limited to clothing items.
Some dogs enjoy the tissue paper hanging on the wall beside the toilet.
It can be because your dog loves to chew on things that feel good inside their mouths.
Dogs are naturally mouthy. So they like filling their mouth with toys, tennis balls, or socks.
You might also want to read: 11 Extraordinary Reasons Why Dogs Nibble Clothes + 5 Tips
#3: Teething can be the culprit
If you have a puppy, they might be looking for something to chew on to relieve the pain, or at least get some comfort.
Besides your laundry, they’ll also try chewing on furniture.
But the most common victims are your shoes and slippers.
The good news here is, once your pup is full-grown, which is around 6 months of age, the teething phase will pass.
Note: Puppies generally start teething when they’re about 3 weeks old. And their baby or milk teeth begin falling out at around 12 weeks of age.
#4: Your clothes have your scent
One of the reasons why dogs are the absolute best is because they love us unconditionally. That includes our unique scent.
There are smells that give canines a sense of pleasure, especially their dog parent’s scent.
Research done by a neuroeconomist named Dr. Gregory Berns suggested this.
He discussed how our dogs can abstractly connect certain smells with pleasure under the “Material and methods” section.
So if your dog is taking your clothes, it’s because they smell like you.
So your furry friend may even consider the cloth as an important item.
Besides clothes, this is also evident when your dog sits on your favorite spot on the couch or lays on your side of the bed.
But how about your dirty laundry?
Your scent is thickest in dirty towels, sheets, and clothes. It sounds gross but dogs love it and will gravitate towards items of clothing that have your strongest scent.
#5: Dogs find comfort from familiar scents
Other than loving your scent, your dog also finds comfort in anything that smells familiar.
New puppies that still cry through the night, even after a week, are looking for assurance.
Usually, they calm down when they smell their mom, littermates, or you near them.
Canines have a keen sense of smell. They pick up scents that are unique and close to their family, both dogs, and humans.
Cuddling your clothes may be your dog’s way of mixing their scent with yours. It’s like bonding their pack together.
Fun fact: Dogs depend on their sniffers to communicate among their packs.
Further reading: 7 Weird Reasons Why Dogs Sniff Your Clothes + 3 Tips
#6: Your dog prefers sleeping on your newly dried clothes
It’s laundry day, and you pulled the clothes out from the dryer.
Here comes your dog and it seems like they’re trying to help you with your chores…
Turns out, they only want to cuddle or sleep on something warm.
It’s like how you feel cozy and relaxed when you’re wearing your favorite sweater or fleece blanket.
Our furry friends would like to sleep on something that provides good cushioning, too.
Especially with senior dogs. They need something soft and warm to lay down on to ease their aching joints.
#7: Your clothes help your dog cope with separation anxiety
There are dogs that are independent. But those who are clingy to their humans tend to suffer from separation anxiety.
Can you show that your dog is clingy without actually saying that your dog is clingy?
This адж зьиехш took a video to show what his dog does:
So when you’re not around, the first thing your canine friend will do is to look for you. If they can’t find you, their attention will be on something that smells or reminds them of you.
If you’re one of those doggo parents who keeps having chewed-up slippers and shoes, it might be a sign.
Other than not being able to handle not seeing you, other signs that your dog has anxiety include:
- Excessive barking.
- Chewing and destroying things.
- Excessive licking (of items such as their toys or pillows).
Stress is also a factor to consider.
If you bring your dog with you to travel, the new place with plenty of noise and strange people can stress them out.
So the way we relax by squeezing a stress ball is the same when dogs use your clothes for relief.
#8: It’s within reach, so why not?
You had a busy week and your clothes are everywhere. They’re on the infamous chair, the couch, the bed, the bathroom floor, or stacked up in your laundry basket.
Some dogs, mostly small breeds and puppies, get curious about the things they find lying on the ground.
They can either keep barking at it, or chew on it because they’re curious or they want to play with it.
Our fidos aren’t aware of what they can and can’t eat.
But they know that anything accessible is something they’re allowed to play with.
If they can get it, it’s up for grabs.
#9: Your dog is plain bored
Fido got tired of their toys or they noticed that they’re alone? That’s when boredom strikes.
Dogs can’t deal with getting bored so they’ll start looking for something to do to entertain themselves.
It may sound like a small thing, but this alone can lead to unwanted behaviors, like:
- Licking themselves.
- Destroying household items.
Think about the last time you were so bored that the usual things you enjoy don’t work.
Sometimes, you want to try something new.
For our furry pals, our clothes are an easy target.
#10: Not enough exercise
Other dogs turn to their dog parent’s clothes to show frustration.
Why are they frustrated?
It’s because they’re not getting enough mental and physical stimulation.
And like with boredom, this can also lead to destructive tendencies.
Zoomies aren’t the only thing that happens when your dog has pent-up energy.
They’ll be so hyped yet frustrated that they’ll enjoy throwing around and ripping your dirty laundry. Just as they’d do with a tug toy if you’re not around to play with them.
Even your clean clothes aren’t safe.
#11: Stealing your clothes gets your attention
Dogs love getting their dog parent’s attention. They’ll try everything they can if they’re feeling neglected or lonely.
Having this pandemic alone is a game-changer for our furry friends.
Before all this, you were at the office for a few hours.
Now, if you’re doing home-based work, your dog gets to see you and be with you all the time.
Some dogs have a routine when it comes to their daily walks and weekly adventures.
If you’ve been busy lately, your dog will start acting up.
Dogs thrive when they have a schedule.
But if they notice that they’re getting less attention than usual, they’ll try anything, such as:
- Digging through the dirty laundry or your hamper.
- Running away with your socks while you’re changing clothes.
- Stealing your clothes from your chair or bed while you’re taking a shower.
5 tips on how to stop your dog from taking your clothes
#1: Consider when your dog started doing this
We have given a list of reasons why dogs take their dog parent’s clothes, but it’s best to backtrack when all this started.
Is there only a specific time when your dog takes your clothes?
Does it happen more often when you’re not at home or only when you’re around?
If it happens when you’re away, it can be because of separation anxiety.
To deal with this, you can try crating your dog.
Or you can set up everything they need before you leave. Make sure there’s food, water, plushies, interactive toys.
And that they have their favorite bed, pad, or blanket.
If it’s happening while you’re at home, your pooch is trying to get your attention.
Spend a little time with your fur buddy by:
- Cuddling and petting your dog.
- Playing a game of fetch in the backyard.
- Taking a quick walk around the neighborhood.
#2: Observe if you should curb this behavior
If your pup likes to cuddle and lay on your clothes, then you can “let sleeping dogs lie.”
Some dog parents purposely give items of clothing to their pups when they’re away. It’s also helpful when your dog has trouble adjusting in a new environment.
You can just pick an old T-Shirt you don’t plan on using anymore.
But if your dog is being destructive, you should stop your dog from taking your clothes.
#3: Redirect your dog’s behavior
It may be challenging to correct our dogs’ instinctual behavior, but we can do it in a gentle manner.
Go for the least resistant way to get any piece of clothing back from your dog.
First, avoid chasing your fur baby. Few of us realize this, but it’s one of the ways we encourage bad behavior.
Next is, don’t get upset, which includes not yelling or intimidating your dog. This will only make them scared and defensive.
What you should do is bribe your dog.
Sounds bad, right?
Let’s say, ‘divert your dog’s attention.” You can do this by:
- Offering a treat.
- Inviting them to play or cuddle with you.
- Exchanging the item of clothing with their toy.
This may seem like you’re rewarding the bad behavior.
But in the long run, it will most likely end up with your dog giving up your laundry without a fight. Especially if they only want your attention or a snack.
Giving incentives will encourage your pup to drop your clothes.
It will also show them how you prefer to get your attention.
#4: Get your dog moving
On top of their daily exercise, play with your dog, or provide a toy or puzzle where they can get treats inside.
These should be enough for your furry pal to get the physical and mental stimulation they need.
If not, you can take it to the next level by teaching your dogs new tricks.
You can also let your dog try different canine sports, such as agility or obedience tasks.
Keeping your dog busy in mind and body will steer them away from your clothes while staying healthy.
#5: Keep clothes out of sight
The most basic approach to stop your dog from taking your clothes is to ensure that they’re out of reach.
Place dirty clothes inside hampers and enclosed in the area where you do your laundry.
Keep any item of clothing off the ground and furniture.
For clean clothes, always store them away and keep your drawers and cabinets closed.
It’s a simple way of you telling your dog that all clothes and fabrics are off-limits.
BONUS: Know the risks of your dog chewing on clothes
Dogs who prize their dog parent’s clothes so much that they become less gentle with it, and start ingesting them.
Since our furry friends don’t know what they shouldn’t be eating, this is a serious and dangerous issue.
Ingesting pieces of clothing can cause:
- Difficulty pooping.
- Bowel obstruction.
Did you know: There was a story in 2014 about a Great Dane who had eaten 43 ½ socks of his family. A vet surgeon was able to take it all out and the dog fully recovered.
If you notice that your dog seems to have stomach aches or is lethargic, seek medical attention right away.
People also ask:
Why does my dog take my socks when I leave?
Your dog takes your socks when you leave to get your attention or something familiar with a new texture.
It serves as a distraction because your socks smell like you, which makes them important to your canine.
They might even think that you left this clothing item because you’re giving it to them.
Once you come home and catch your dog gnawing on your socks, your first move is to try to get or grab it from their mouth.
This is where your dog wins because it makes them excited and it seems like you’re playing with them.
Why does my dog steal my dirty laundry?
Your dog steals your dirty laundry because it has your unique scent. It gives them comfort as they view you as a member of the pack or family.
As stinky as you think your clothes are, your scent is thickest when it’s unwashed. This makes your dog gravitate towards stealing your unclean clothes.
It’s the same reason why your dog likes:
- Laying on your pillow.
- Using your shoes as a pillow.
- Taking your spot on the couch.
- Sleeping on your side of the bed.
Don’t forget to also read: 7 Weird Reasons Why Your Dog Sits On Your Pillow + 3 Tips