Do you ever wonder why your dirty socks disappear from your laundry hamper only to turn up a month later tucked under your pup’s doggie bed? It’s a pretty standard behavior among many different dog breeds. But where does the behavior come from, and is it dangerous? Read on to find out why many dogs steal dirty laundry…
Dogs are incredibly sensitive to smell.
Did you know that dogs have up to 50 times the amount of smell receptors humans have? They can detect substances in concentrations of 1 part per trillion, making them more sensitive to chemical changes than most modern machinery! They can also move their nostrils independently, which can help them source an odor’s exact direction whenever it hits them. Additionally, most dogs have 20/75 vision, which means that someone with 20/20 vision viewing something from a 75-foot distance would get the same amount of visual information as a dog standing only 20 feet away from said object. Because of this, our dogs recognize us by our scent, sound, and general movements rather than our appearance.
Dogs also don’t have the same hang-ups about body odor.
To you, your sweaty socks may be an ugly reminder to cancel your gym membership, but to your dog, those socks are a world of chemical information detailing your mood, health, and even diet. Your dog may find such scents comforting, especially when you aren’t there in person.
The behavior isn’t necessarily a problem.
Many owners will allow their dogs to steal their clothing for a cuddle to help them feel less insecure, but if your dog is playing aggressively with your clothing, you might not want to be as generous. It’s likely your dog is looking for more stimulation in their life and sees your discarded clothes as the perfect new chew toy. Spending more time playing with your dog and using appropriate toys will help curb this behavior. However, if you believe your dog may have ingested some of your clothing, you should check with your vet to make sure it doesn’t cause any issues with your pooch’s digestive tract.
Getting your clothes back can be a bit tricky.
The best thing to do is take one of your dog’s favorite toys and calmly exchange it for your clothes. The last thing you want to do is turn your retrieval mission into a game of tag or tug of war. If you see your dog resisting, back off for a few minutes before trying again. You can also distract your dog with treats before retrieving your clothing.
Remember: dogs steal dirty laundry because they’re just following their instincts.
So heavily scolding them in the heat of the moment is unlikely to change their overall behavior. The best thing you can do to protect your clothes keeps them out of your dog’s reach. That’s right; this whole article was secretly written by your mother. She wants you to stop leaving sweatshirts on the floor of your bedroom; she bought you that hamper for a reason!