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Why Do Dogs Love To Steal Your Dirty Laundry?

Written by: Dina Fantegrossi
Dina Fantegrossi is the Assistant Editor and Head Writer for HomeLife Media. Before her career in writing, Dina was a veterinary technician for more than 15 years.Read more
| Published on November 6, 2017

Have you ever noticed that your pup prefers to nap on your discarded sweater rather than his own dog bed? Does he enjoy romping with one of your dirty socks more than an expensive toy?

There are several reasons why dogs enjoy playing and snuggling with our personal effects. While it may not seem like a major problem, keep in mind that pups who ingest clothing could be at risk for serious, life-threatening illnesses.

Socks, underwear, and pantyhose are among the most common items that veterinarians surgically remove from canine digestive tracts. In 2014, Veterinary Practice News reported on the story of a 3-year-old Great Dane who ingested forty-three and a half of his family’s socks! Luckily, a surgeon was able to remove them, and the dog made a full recovery.


The most common reason that dogs love our dirty laundry is simply that it reminds them of us. Their sense of smell is extremely powerful, and being surrounded by our personal scent gives them a sense of comfort and security. For this reason, many dog lovers opt to provide a used article of clothing for their pup during times of stress, like car rides, boarding, or crate training. While this practice can provide great relief from separation anxiety, be sure to safely tuck the item into a specially-designed toy like the Comfort Cuddler to prevent eating or choking hazards.

Related: 12 Best Dog Beds

“When You’re Away” Comfort Cuddler™


Dogs also do not understand the meaning of personal possessions. In their minds, anything within reach is up for grabs – literally! Our cherished pets do not have to hunt or scavenge for their next meal like their ancestors, but the instinct still remains.

Another reason that dogs – especially puppies – snag articles of clothing is that they are bored and want your attention. If running off with your favorite hat or a pair of dirty underwear inspires you to give chase, you can bet your pooch is going to repeat that behavior as often as possible! When it comes to these attention-seeking bandits, resist the urge to give in to the game. Do not chase or yell at your pup. Instead, calmly call her over and bribe her to give up the object in exchange for a favorite treat or a play session with an appropriate toy.

Also, consider rotating the toys she has access to in order to prevent her from growing bored with the selection. Choose three or four to have available at any given time and change them out often.

Prevent accidental laundry ingestion by keeping all tempting items up off the floor and safely tucked away in a hamper or closet. If you suspect that your dog has swallowed an article of clothing, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Remember, what your pooch really wants is quality time with you! Be sure to get down on the floor or go outside and play together every day!


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Featured Image via Facebook/Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary

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