For humans, there’s nothing filthier than a smelly-dirty sock. But dogs don’t seem to agree with us on this one. They seem to find pleasure in chewing and just being around old dirty socks. But why does this happen? Are our dogs really that nasty that they enjoy chewing smelly socks or is there a specific reason why dogs like socks? Let’s find out.
Reasons why dogs like socks
You might be surprised to learn that dogs like to steal socks due to multiple reasons, some of which you might even find cute.
Socks remind them of you
The love between a dog and their human parent can only be described as unconditional. They love us just as much, or even more, as we love them. We are our pet’s whole world. And whenever we are gone and not around them, they miss us like crazy. Having a piece of clothing that belongs to us and has our smell on it can help our dogs feel better whenever they are missing us. It makes them feel closer to us.
And what’s smellier than a dirty sock? If your dog steals your dirty and used socks when you are gone or just before you leave, this might be the reason why: they just want to have something that makes them feel closer to you.
Socks help them deal with separation anxiety
This reasoning is an extended version of the previous one. Separation anxiety is a condition that affects many dogs. It makes them feel incredibly stressed whenever they are apart from us or left alone in the house, which can lead to excessive barking and howling, destructive behavior, urinating or defecating inside the house, and even escaping.
One of the most effective ways to treat separation anxiety is giving them calming treats. They will help them relax and feel calmer, without making them lethargic or drowsy.
Nonetheless, dogs can also find their own ways of dealing with the feeling they experience when they are away from you, such as keeping with them a piece of clothing containing your odor. It works as a safety blanket for kids, it makes them feel safe and reminds them of you.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, there are more tips you can follow to help them ease the symptoms.
Socks feel good to chew
As you have probably learned by now, dogs need to chew constantly. It is a key part of the teething process they experience as puppies. But it doesn’t end there. Grown dogs also have the need to chew, since it is stimulating and can help relieve anxiety.
Socks apparently make an excellent chewing toy for dogs. They just really like the feeling of chewing them. And, as disgusting as it might sound, a dirty sock must definitely have a specific taste dogs like.
Out of boredom
Yes, dogs can get bored. Pet parents usually can’t dedicate more than 2 to 3 hours a day to walking their pups or taking them to the park. And although that’s incredibly beneficial for their physical and mental health, the day still has 21 more hours. Apart from sleeping, dogs need to use the remaining hours of their day to stimulate their brain and entertain themselves. If you don’t provide your dog with enrichment activities, they will find their own ways of entertaining themselves, such as by chewing dirty socks.
They can also steal your socks out of boredom because they know you’ll start to chase them, making it a game for them. They are trying to get your attention and get you to play with them.
Should you stop your dog from stealing socks?
The main reason why you might want to stop your dog from stealing socks is the obvious one: you don’t want them running around with a dirty sock on their mouth. If that’s the case, it is perfectly fine to do so. But, you should also try to identify the reason why your dog is stealing socks and find a solution. Is it separation anxiety? Or are they lacking mental stimulation?
Other reasons why you would want to stop your dog from stealing socks is due to the health hazards it may represent.
When your dog is chewing socks, they can rip it apart and then swallow the small pieces, which can make them choke or cause an intestinal blockage. What is worse, some dogs can even swallow the whole sock without ripping it apart, which can be even more dangerous.
If your dog doesn’t rip the sock or tries to swallow it, there should be no problem with them chewing it. Nevertheless, you should always monitor them when they are doing so because you never know what can happen.
How to stop your dog from stealing socks
If for whatever reason you want your dog to stop stealing your socks, here are some things you can do.
- If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, follow this guide to help them ease the symptoms, give them calming treats before leaving them alone and also leave them with a piece of clothing containing your odor, and that you don’t mind them chewing or having.
- If your dog is just a passionate sock lover, you can make a sock toy just for them! Grab some old pair of socks you were going to throw away, tight them all together and now your dog will have an approved sock toy to play with whenever they want.
- Provide your dog with enrichment activities daily so they won't get bored.
- Don’t leave dirty socks on the floor or places your dogs can reach.
- Provide them with an appealing alternative, such as toys created specifically for chewing
- Train them to drop the sock whenever they pick it up, so you don’t have to chase them around and have them think you’re playing.