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Why Does My Dog Steal My Clothes? 6 Likely Reasons & What to Do

Written by: Kathryn Copeland

Last Updated on May 3, 2024 by Dogster Team

Thai dog biting clothes

Why Does My Dog Steal My Clothes? 6 Likely Reasons & What to Do

Have you ever come home and found your favorite shoes getting chewed up by your beloved dog? Or did you think that the washing machine swallowed one of your socks, but then you found it in your dog’s bed? If you’re not careful, your dog might run off with your underwear, so it can help to understand why your dog does this in the first place. Below, we’ll go over several reasons that dogs seem obsessed with their owners’ clothing, along with tips on protecting your belongings from your dog’s rather strange attention.

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The 6 Reasons That Dogs Steal Clothing

Your dog isn’t stealing or chewing on your clothing for any nefarious reasons. Knowing this can help you understand your dog better.

1. Your Clothes Smell Like You

If your dog steals your dirty laundry, it’s probably because it smells like you. The smellier your clothing, the more your dog probably loves it. If you throw your clothes on the floor or leave them where they’re easily accessed, your dog might even think you’ve left them there as a gift.

In those cases, your dog might bring the clothing to their bed to have your scent nearby for comfort. Dogs are pack animals, and combining their scent with yours is comforting.

2. They Have Anxiety and Stress

Dogs that experience a certain amount of stress and anxiety are more likely to run off with something that smells like you. This could be a compulsive behavior to help them deal with their anxiety.

Stealing clothing that smells like you is not only comforting but also a sign of self-soothing for anxious dogs.

sick dog
Image by: Lindsay Helms, Shutterstock

3. Clothing Is Soft and Chewable

Dogs love soft things. This could be an evolutionary trait since dogs were hunters of soft furry creatures. Chewing on soft items might remind them of chewing on feathers and fur. This also plays into the fact that dogs just love to chew. Chewing is an ordinary instinct that all dogs have. If they aren’t given an appropriate chew toy, they might chew on whatever they can find, which can include your belongings.

4. They Are Bored

If a dog isn’t getting enough physical or mental stimulation, their behavior can become destructive. They need to find ways to entertain themselves, which can lead to stealing things and chewing forbidden items.

Dogs need plenty of physical exercise to expend their energy. If they don’t have enough toys for chewing or enough playtime with you, it can lead to your dog destroying your yard and belongings.

sick australian shepherd dog
Image by: Irini Adler, Pixabay

5. They Are Looking for Attention

Dogs can be mischievous rascals at times, and stealing your clothing so you can chase them becomes an entertaining game for them. It’s even more fun if they get in an additional game of tug-of-war with one of your socks. This indicates that your dog wants to spend more time playing with you.

6. Dogs Are Scavengers

A dog’s instincts can drive them to scavenge, which makes them excellent thieves. Dogs are usually on the lookout for food or something smelly that is soft and fun to play with. This also means your dog probably steals other things besides your clothing.

Image Credit: SabbraCadabra, Pixabay


The 5 Tips to Stop Your Dog From Stealing Your Clothes

For the most part, stealing clothes isn’t an unusual behavior, but you may lose a few articles of clothing. However, chewing on a foreign object is a choking hazard and can cause an intestinal blockage. So, here are a few tips that can hopefully prevent this behavior.

1. Spend Quality Time With Them

If you’re away from home frequently, spend as much time as you can with your dog when you have free time. Go to the dog park, take long walks, throw a ball, or do whatever your dog enjoys. Tire your dog out! A happy dog that is not bored is much less likely to be mischievous.

2. Give Them Chew Toys

Providing your dog with toys can prevent boredom, particularly if your dog likes chewing on your belongings. Dog-appropriate chew toys can entertain your dog and provide mental stimulation. Even if you already have several toys for your dog, consider getting new ones if they’ve been around for a while. You can swap a few old ones with the new toys and then bring out the old ones again when your pup gets bored of them.

german shepherd dog with its chew toy outdoors
Image Credit: lightman_pic, Shutterstock

3. Use Positive Reinforcement

Dogs respond best to positive reinforcement, so instead of chasing or yelling at your dog when they grab your sock, try to ignore them. Once your dog gets bored of the sock, you can casually pick it up. If you react every time your dog grabs your clothing, they will keep doing it because it becomes a fun game, and they have your full attention.

4. Don’t Leave Your Clothing Out

If no socks or T-shirts are lying around, your dog can’t run off with them. Try keeping your clothing in the closet with the door closed, and keep your dirty laundry in a hamper with a tight-fitting lid. Without the temptation of your clothing, your dog will have nothing to steal.

woman doing laundry
Image by: Rozhnovskaya Tanya, Shutterstock

5. Give Your Dog Your Clothing

If you believe your dog needs something that smells like you for comfort, wear an old t-shirt for a day and put it in your dog’s bed. This is only recommended for dogs that won’t chew up the clothing for safety reasons.

If your dog just wants to snuggle up in something soft that smells like you, they won’t need to steal anything. However, if your dog seems to have anxiety issues, you should speak to your vet.

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Dogs will be dogs, and they are talented at sneaking up and sneaking off with something of ours, like clothes. As long as your dog isn’t chewing up and destroying your belongings, it’s usually a harmless behavior. But if there’s any chance that your dog is chewing or eating your clothes, you’ll need to stop the behavior. You should also speak to your vet if you’re concerned, particularly if your dog seems to be suffering from anxiety.

It’s best to spend extra time exercising and playing with your dog. That way, they will feel safe and secure and might not resort to stealing your underwear!

Featured Image Credit: k_o_n_d, Shutterstock

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