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Why Does My Dog Steal My Clothes? 5 Reasons & How to Stop It

Hallie Roddy

By Hallie Roddy

boxer dog stealing socks

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Vet, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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So, you’ve made the mistake of dropping one of your sweaty pieces of workout clothes on the floor. Before you know it, your dog has claimed it as its own and run off with it! Your pup is probably rolling around on it or already chewing it by the time you track it down. Aside from being a little grossed out, your favorite piece of clothing might be a goner.

Nothing is safe from our dog. Shoes, bras, socks, and yes, even underwear are at risk. Why are some dogs so obsessed with stealing our clothes? The behavior seems strange, but there are quite a few reasons why your pup likes hoarding your clothing.

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Reasons Why Dogs Steal Clothing

First and foremost, understand that your dog isn’t being malicious with its behavior. Dogs have no concept of worth, and they aren’t going to specifically target your luxury goods instead of the stuff from the bargain bin. Your dog is stealing your clothing for a few simple reasons.

1. They Want Attention

It isn’t shocking to learn that some dogs steal clothing simply because they want more attention from you. Think about all the attention they get every time they steal something. You’re likely going to get up, chase them around, and even play a little tug-of-war with them. Whether you’ve been spending more time at work or haven’t put in as many hours playing with them, this behavior could just be because they want more time with you.


2. They’re Born to Chew

All dogs have a natural instinct for chewing and need a safe outlet for this desire. If they don’t have appropriate toys or bones for them to gnaw on, then they might start sniffing around for the next best thing. Shoes, socks, and even dish towels that are within reach are all potential victims and fun for dogs to shred. Unfortunately, these things can also be dangerous for your pup if ingested. Before you leave the house, make sure they’ve always got an appropriate chew toy within reach.


3. They Have Nothing Better to Do

Dogs start acting more mischievous when they have nothing better to do. Dogs all need physical exercise, but some pet owners look over the importance of mental stimulation as well. Dogs that aren’t able to expel their energy are more likely to get into trouble. They might start chewing on clothes, shredding pillows, or even chasing other animals in the house.

labrador dog playing with sock
Image Credit: Zachary Pennington, Shutterstock

4. They Like Your Scent

It’s a little gross to think about, but dogs might target some of your more personal clothing items because of the scent you leave behind. Smelling your scent provides your dog comfort when you’re not around. Some dogs prefer to cuddle them, but others lick and chew on them until they’re torn to shreds.


5. They Could Be Anxious

Dogs have compulsive behaviors when they’re uncomfortable, like excessive grooming and pacing, and stealing things could also be a response to their anxiety. Surrounding themselves with soft, familiar objects is your dog’s way of self-soothing in stressful situations or environments.

 

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How To Stop a Dog from Stealing Your Clothes

The good news about your dog’s theft problem is that there are quite a few quick fixes. Behavioral issues aren’t uncommon and thankfully, a few tweaks around the house should have them back to normal.

1. Provide Toys

One of the best ways to keep your dog from stealing your clothes is to provide them with more stimulating toys. The more interaction the toy provides, the better. You want to find products that keep your dogs engaged mentally and physically. These could be things like squeaky toys, dog puzzles, or treat-dispensing toys.

Ball and Tug Toy From She Knows
Image: She Knows

2. Increasing Enrichment

It’s understandable that dogs need to stay indoors while you’re at work but try to make the most out of every outdoor experience you can. This means enriching their lives by doing things like installing a sandbox for them to dig in, taking them to a new dog park to smell around, or even teaching them a new trick.

Dog playing PuzzlePaws training game
Image Credit: Lenti Hill, Shutterstock

3. Remove Temptation

Of course, your dog can’t steal your clothing if they don’t have access to it. When you pick up all your clothes off the floor, put them away once the laundry is done drying, or keep your closet doors shut. You then decrease the chances of them finding and destroying your belongings.


4. Don’t Overreact

A lot of dogs behave poorly when they know that they are going to get some sort of attention from you. Instead of immediately jumping up and chasing your dog around, ignore the behavior (as long as they aren’t destroying your clothing) and take it away from them once they aren’t paying attention. Giving them your attention only encourages them to do it more often.

Related: Why Does My Dog Steal My Socks? 5 Reasons and How to Stop It

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Conclusion

In most cases, you should nip the behavior in the bud as soon as you can, especially if they are destroying almost everything they can get their paws on. This will save your time, money, aggravation, and potentially your dog’s life. Not all dogs are destructive, but those that are could accidentally swallow a foreign material and cause some dangerous or even deadly obstructions. Instead, give them some more interactive dog toys and focus on enriching their day-to-day routine.

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Featured Image Credit: Jana Behr, Shutterstock

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