Why Does My Dog Take My Clothes When I Leave?

Reader’s Question: Why does my dog take my clothes when I leave? Read on to find out.

Some dogs are great thieves, especially when it comes to dirty laundry. Does your dog keep stealing some of your dirty clothes? Old t-shirts, socks, towels, underwear – nothing is off the limit for these canine kleptomaniacs. It’s quite a normal behavior since clothes often present some sense of comfort. Besides, dogs love the scent of their owners. They have sharp noses, so you should let the dog be if it isn’t destroying anything. Dogs find comfort in familiar scents than humans do.

But why do dogs steal laundry? Is it a dangerous habit? What can you do to prevent it from happening?

Why Dogs Steal Laundry

These are some of the common reasons why dogs steal laundry.

  • They are probably bored
  • Some dogs tend to chew on anything
  • The clothes have your smell
  • Dogs love soft stuff
  • Dogs are scavengers naturally

Some dogs, especially the small ones, pick things up that lay on the ground and play with them as toys. Start by keeping your laundry away from the floor if you want the dog to stop picking them up. Most of us can relate to having chased the dog around the living room after stealing your socks. Ever wondered why dogs often take laundry?

Dogs have a history of scavenging, and this makes them excellent thieves. Even though their domestication is making them less reliable on their hunting abilities, but dogs scavenging behaviors remain present. Dogs sniff out rare opportunities for that free meal. When it comes to laundry, they look for anything smelly and warm to play with such as panties and convertible bras for plus size.

Whether it’s stealing from the garbage bin, counter surfing, or raiding laundry – some dogs will remain very opportunistic scavengers. So, why does my dog take my clothes when I leave?

Here are some reasons why:

Dogs Like Your Landry Since they Have Your Scent

dog with laundry

Dogs are super great; they not only love us unconditionally but also like anything smells like its owner. It’s quite flattering that those sweaty, stinky, socks are treasures and not fouls to your dog.

If you are a new dog owner, help the puppy adapt to a new environment by giving it a piece of clothing or blanket that has their mother’s scent. The familiar smell will make them comfortable as they adjust to the new surroundings. You should try out this clothing trick if the puppy is still crying at night, even after a week of being home. A familiar scent will help reduce the dog’s anxiety especially when they are left on their own.

Dogs Love Soft Stuff

dog with soft stuff

Some dogs tend to steal laundry because they like soft stuff. Certain textures, like soft fabrics and tissue paper, will appeal certain dogs. People believe that dogs chew on smooth things since it’s an instinct, and the soft textures resemble that feeling of chewing on feathers and fur. Dogs feel good chewing soft stuff, especially young puppies that are teething.

Some Dogs Steal Laundry Due to Boredom

dog playing with clothes

Just like us, dogs too get bored. The dog is going to invent ways of entertaining himself/herself if it isn’t physically and mentally stimulated. However, this might often lead to some unwanted behaviors like stealing objects and chewing.

Your dog is obsessed with your socks since they make great toys. Socks are quite easy to throw around, soft, and equally fun ripping apart. Most of us have chased our dogs around for stealing something they shouldn’t have. Engaging in the chase can make worsen this behavior. The dog might be looking for a chase game when he nabs the sock since he’s seeking attention or bored.

The dog having access to the same toy grows bored of them overtime. The other reason for stealing your laundry could be because the dog is trying to find a new toy or equipment to play with . Consider rotating the toys instead of allowing the dog to access them all at once. For instance, I let my dog access a few toys and keep rotating them every week. It aids in keeping the dog enthusiastic each time you throw a toy at them.

Socks and different clothing items are known targets since they have your scent, are super soft to them, and sometimes left lying around the floor. Besides, leaving them makes them easily accessible.

The Dangers of Your Dog Chewing on Clothing

When it comes to choosing what to ingest and what not to, dogs aren’t quite smart. If you leave the dog with a shirt, sock, or any clothing fabric, chances are the dog will decide to eat them up. Sometime this year, a dog was taken to the vet after it began vomiting. Upon taking an X-ray, the veterinary surgeon discovered a considerable amount of some foreign materials in the dog’s stomach. Luckily, the dog is fully recovered now and is fine.

What Do You Do When Your Dog Steals Laundry?

You can follow these steps if you discover your dog keeps stealing your laundry. You shouldn’t yell when it happens. If you keep yelling and chasing the dog, you are likely to make the dog defensive and scared or even promote the chase game. Moreover, if the dog was only seeking attention and you chase after it, you are rewarding his bad behavior.

The only easy way out to getting something the dog has stolen is to try and bribe them. Rummage through food in the kitchen or pick their favorite toy then invite the dog to play. At first, it may seem like you are rewarding the behavior; however, think of it from the dog’s point of view.

Rewarding the dog for returning a stolen item is likely to make them do the same voluntarily the next time it happens. However, if you keep yelling and chasing, the dog might decide to hide or run away. You should also be aware of whether the dog prizes your laundry so much to eat it. The issue can be severe, mainly if it makes the dog vomit and has some difficulty passing stool. Plus, highly concerning but less obvious is an obstruction in the bowel that causes various symptoms like belly pain and lethargy. Since these conditions can get worse, vets recommend that owners should seek medical attention from experts as soon as they suspect the dog has consumed clothing.

If your dog steals laundry all the time, take that opportunity to teach him appropriate behavior. Once you get your sock back from the dog, gently show them what you would prefer. Invest in some interactive toys if you don’t want to play with the dog at that very moment actively. There are decent ways to keep your dog entertained like puzzle toys, stuffed Kong, and Kong Wobblers.

Our dogs look up to their owners for direction. It’s essential to try and show them what to do, especially when they do something inappropriate. Taking away what the dog has stolen without further direction might make them go out and find different ways to entertain themselves.

How Do You Prevent Your Dog from Stealing Your Laundry?

dog near clothes

You should always keep your laundry closed off or in a hamper. Don’t leave your laundry lying around where the dog can easily access if it tends to steal. Dogs are known to scavenge. Therefore, if you leave several smelly exciting things lying around, the dog is bound to take them.

Try to keep the dog both physically and mentally tired. Dogs, especially young working and sporting breeds, require a lot of exercising daily. A walk around the block doesn’t quite cut it. You should include some games of fetch, tug, and obedience tasks. There are many ways you can keep the dog always entertained. Adding some sessions where you get to play with your dog will not only keep it happy but also healthy and away from your laundry.


All dogs do behave in specific ways that typically confuse their owners, and stealing laundry happens to be among these behaviors. Fortunately, unless the dog is destroying and eating the stolen clothing, then the act isn’t something that should worry you. Always chalk it up to instinct and bear in mind, dogs will keep eating clothes out there!

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