Do you find that your socks mysteriously go missing, only to show up later among your dog’s toy collection? Or, perhaps your dog not-so-mysteriously carries socks around the house like a child with a favorite blanket.
If you’ve got a sock thief in your home, you’re not alone! Stealing socks is one of many quirky yet common dog behaviors. But why, exactly, do our furry friends have such a thing for fuzzy socks?
Why Dogs Like Socks
To you, the thought of a sweaty, smelly sock is anything but appealing. To your dog, though, that sock is like a bottle filled with his favorite scent—you! Your dog’s sock stealing may simply be an expression of love: he wants as much of you as he can have.
Every dog is different, though, and there are a few more possible explanations for why dogs like socks so much; Fido and Rover may each have different reasons behind their sock obsessions.
Other reasons why dogs like socks include:
Texture. Soft, fluffy fabric can be a comforting cuddle object. Socks can also be soothing to chew, especially if you’ve got a teething puppy on your hands.
Curiosity. Your dog may be interested in your socks out of curiosity, and chewing and sniffing are both great ways for a dog to get acquainted with any item.
Boredom. If your pup isn’t getting enough stimulation, he’ll find his own mischievous ways to explore. Provide your pup with plenty of enriching activities and quality time to keep him content and well-behaved.
Attention. If you chase after your dog when he steals your socks and end up playing a game of sock tug-of-war, you may be providing accidental positive reinforcement. You may be frustrated, but Fido is learning that this is a fun game that he wants to play again and again! Plus, to a dog, any response—good or bad—is still attention.
- Comfort. That soft, soothing texture and familiar scent can be incredibly comforting to a dog, especially if he’s experiences separation anxiety when you’re gone.
If your dog is actually eating socks rather than just chewing them, he may have a disorder called pica, in which he commonly eats non-food items. If you’re concerned about your dog’s sock obsession, it doesn’t hurt to talk to your vet to rule out physical and mental health issues.
Using Socks to Your Advantage
Your dog’s unrelenting interest in socks isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, there are a few different ways you can use Fido’s sock obsession to your advantage.
For example, when your dog is feeling restless or anxious, you can give him a favorite sock as a designated chew toy. Try to limit this to specific socks so your dog knows that the rest of your sock collection is off-limits. Additionally, use durable socks so your dog can’t tear off and swallow tags, pieces of fabric, or other items which could be potential choking hazards.
Socks can also help with separation anxiety. When you head out for the day, leave behind a sock that smells like you so your dog can feel less alone.
Socks aren’t the only tasty way to calm your dog—Pet Honesty’s Premium Hemp Calming Chews are made of a natural blend of ingredients to calm and soothe an anxious dog.
How to Stop Your Dog from Stealing Socks
Understandably, you don’t want to share all of your socks with your dog (or any, for some pet owners). Train your dog to understand the boundaries in your home, and that it’s not just a sock free-for-all.
For starters, don’t leave any off-limits items lying on the floor in your bedroom or anywhere else around your home. If you leave socks lying around, your dog will have a harder time understanding the difference between his toys and your belongings.
Keep your dirty laundry consolidated in a bin and out of reach from your dog. This could be as simple as putting a cover on the top so your pup can’t go sniffing and digging for you-scented items.
If you don’t want your dog using you socks at all, you’ll need to find a valid replacement. If it smells like the pet store and not like you, your pooch may not be interested. You may find that burying Fido’s sock replacement toy in your dirty laundry for a while will do the trick!
When you want to retrieve a sock from your dog, try not to chase him or turn it into a game, or else he’ll just want to keep playing! Instead, teach your dog basic commands such as “leave it” and “drop it.” When you use a treat as a reward, your dog will quickly learn that obeying the command is much more appealing than keeping the sock.
Additionally, don’t punish your dog for stealing your socks—he may not understand that his behavior is wrong. Stay calm and redirect his behavior to something more appropriate.
Help! My Dog Ate My Sock!
If your dog swallows one of those stolen socks, stay calm and try to identify as much of the following as possible:
- The size of the sock
- The material of the sock, and anything else that might have been swallowed
- When it happened
- Any changes in your dog’s behavior since ingesting the sock
Then, call your vet for instructions about the next steps. Depending on the size of your dog compared to the sock, your vet may simply recommend monitoring your dog’s stools, or they may instruct you to induce vomiting to remove the sock from his system. In more serious cases, they may want you to bring your dog in to further assess the situation and support your dog’s health.