Do you have a four-legged sock thief in your home? Do clothes mysteriously go missing, only to show up in your dog’s bed with other items of their um…. personal collection? Like a collector of fine art, our canine friends have a serious eye (and nose) for some of our most intimate items. Shoes, socks, underwear… your dog doesn’t care and is likely to steal them regardless! So, why do dogs like socks so much? What mysterious forces are behind this obsession? Get your reading shoes on, because we’re going on a journey through the top 5 reasons why dogs steal socks. And for more insights, check out these 6 facts about your dog’s behaviors.

5 reasons why dogs steal socks

No, socks are not a part of a healthy dog diet. If your dog steals socks, they’re most likely not trying to actually eat them. So then what is your furry friend doing? Here are the main reasons why dogs love socks:

  1. Chewing – it feels good!
  2. They’re just bored
  3. They love you
  4. You leave things lying around
  5. Separation anxiety

Chewing – it feels good!

Your dog doesn’t steal or eat socks because of hunger, but because… it feels good. For puppies, chewing is part of the teething process, whereas for most grown-up dogs, the action of chewing on a sock is as irresistible as chewing gum is for humans.

Chewing is a healthy activity for dogs that can provide fun, stimulation, and even anxiety relief. It also keeps their teeth clean, and their jaws and mouth healthy and strong.

Of course, unwanted chewing can still become a problem. Worry not – we have two guides to help you with that:

They’re just bored.

Dogs are naturally curious animals. They love stimulation and fun activities. That’s why they love playing with kids, taking walks with you, and playing fetch with new toys.  If your dog does not get enough healthy activity and stimulation, it can lead to behaviors such as overeating or chewing anything in sight. It might sound odd, but boredom is also one of the 6 reasons why dogs run away.

dog chewing on clothes

So when dogs steal socks, they may be looking for a fun distraction. But be careful not to reward this behavior – trying to take the sock away from them might seem like a fun game of tug-o-war to your buddy! Your dog will also probably love it if you chase them to get the sock.

Watch the video at the end of this article to learn how to train your dog to avoid this behavior.

They love you.

We humans like clean socks. But that does not seem to apply to our furry companions. Believe it or not, your dog would much rather have the nastiest, dirtiest old gym sock than a clean one. Hey, don’t judge! Our buddies are just fans of au naturel. Joking aside, dogs find comfort in their human’s smell. So make sure to plan enough time for cuddling with your four-legged sweetheart, so they can feel you love them right back.

Good to know: Your “dirty” socks smell like you. Chewing on them makes your dog feel closer to their favorite humans.

When your dog chews on your socks, they feel like they’re wrapped up in a cozy blanket. In other words, this is a sign of affection, so always make sure you cuddle with your dog as often as possible. They need that!

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You leave things lying around.

If your house is untidy or if there’s laundry in your dog’s reach, you can’t blame them. How can they know that chewing on things which lay on the floor is bad behavior? You’re better off keeping your socks off the floor and out of reach. Only by doing so your dog will learn to distinguish what they should and should not have their paws on. And it’s not just about socks. All of your laundry items are potential chew targets.

Separation anxiety

Dogs are social animals and when you’re gone, they miss you. A lot. It’s not uncommon for a dog to experience social anxiety and seek some sort of comfort when left alone. Your socks can give them that reassurance.

Because they smell like you, your smelly socks can make your dog feel less anxious during your absence. This does not mean a sock could ever replace the love you can give your dog! If your dog is showing signs of separation anxiety, try to make extra time for your dog where possible.

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How to prevent my dogs from stealing socks?

Now that we know why dogs steal socks, let’s look at what you can do to prevent this (often) unwanted behavior in dogs:

  • Make sure your dog gets enough physical exercise – play with them!
  • Provide your dog with their own How to find the right chew toys for your dog. 
  • Clean up – put socks and other personal items in a place where your dog cannot reach them.
  • Train your dog so they know which items are for play and which are not.
  • Teach the “give” command – be serious, not funny with them, otherwise they’ll thinking you’re playing the sock-chasing game.
  • Give your dog plenty of attention, love, and stimulation so they never get bored.

My dog ate a sock: what should I do?

In most cases, dogs will probably just chew on socks and play with them. However, sometimes they may actually try to eat them. If your dog eats a sock, follow the advice below, from Falls Village Veterinary Hospital:

  • Stay calm – panicking will likely not help your furry friend!
  • Find out:
    • What exactly did your dog swallow?
    • How big was it?
    • When did it happen?
    • Does your dog appear sick or in distress?
  • Call your vet – they can give you more advice.

If your dog has indeed eaten a sock, the severity of the situation depends on factors such as:

  • your dog’s size compared to the sock size
  • sock material
  • your furry friend’s age and health condition

A dog that has eaten a sock may naturally pass it out in 10 -24 hours; however it’s best not to assume this will happen and call your vet for support.

If your dog shows signs of distress such as vomiting, lethargy, or diarrhea, it could be a sign of bowel obstruction, in which case, your dog should be treated by a vet immediately.

Conclusion: Why dogs steal socks

It’s common behavior for dogs to steal socks and other personal items of ours. They don’t do this to be bad, or because they actually want to eat them. They just enjoy chewing, need fun and entertainment, like your smell (and love you), are naturally curious and playful, interested in the things you have lying around and finally, because they might be suffering from separation anxiety. A GPS dog tracker can ensure that you can stay connected to your dog at all times.

If your dog actually does manage to eat a sock, consult your vet as soon as possible. And remember to give your furry friend lots of love, no matter what they get up to!

For more information, check out this video from Urban Dog Training on why dogs steal socks and underwear:

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