Why Does My Dog Steal My Socks & Shoes? + Why Dogs Like Socks | Pupford
November 13th, 2023
Filed under Pet Parenting
One of my favorite questions I see online is 'why does my dog steal my socks'. 🤪
If you often find yourself pacing around your house looking for the other sock or shoe that you swore you just saw, this post is for you.
If you’ve ever chased your dog around with your shoe or slipper in their mouth (which we don’t actually recommend doing by the way… more on that later), this post is for you.
If you’ve ever had your dog try to “help” you with laundry by digging through your hamper for socks, this post is for you.
Get the theme here?
Today we’re going to break down one of the most mysterious behaviors – your dog stealing socks and shoes. We’ll answer some major questions: why do they do it, why do dogs like socks & shoes and how can we get them to stop?!
But first, we want to see how many sock and shoe thieves are out there in the Pupford community.
WHY DOES MY DOG STEAL MY SOCKS OR SHOES?
Since it seems like such odd behavior, let’s dig into why dogs tend to steal odd (and often less than appealing) items like shoes and socks.
Here are a few theories, and how to stop each one! Plus, some thoughts as to why dogs like socks to begin with!
1. THEY ARE SEEKING ATTENTION
What do you do when your dog prances by with your shoe in tow? You look at them, maybe shout their name, possibly chase them, etc.
In other words, you give them attention.
Dogs are smarter than we give them credit for a lot of times, so they know if they’re doing something unwanted, they will get attention for it. Especially if it’s been a successful tactic for them in the past.
HOW TO STOP STEALING SOCKS AND SHOES FOR ATTENTION
First, try your best to not reinforce the behavior, even unintentionally, by giving them attention (chasing them, shouting their name, etc.). Instead, proactively give your dog attention in a positive way throughout the day.
If you are able to, take some time each day to play with, pet, walk, or otherwise interact with your dog. If you can’t spend a lot of time with them on a given day because of work or school, set them up with to keep them occupied and engaged until you can give them attention.
2. IT’S A FORM OF PLAYING
Your dog may be confusing your shoes and slippers for toys. The texture, material, colors, size, etc. all may resemble those adorable toys you’ve spent (probably way too much) money on.
If you notice your dog getting into a play bow stance, tossing the shoe around, or trying to get you to throw it for them to fetch, they may be genuinely mistaking them for toys.
HOW TO STOP STEALING SOCKS AND SHOES AS PLAYING
Again, it’s important to not reinforce this behavior. It’s easier said than done – but it’s hard for your dog to distinguish you engaging in play from you just trying to get your possessions back.
You have two options here. First, you wait until your dog loses interest in the shoe and then move it to a place they can’t get to it again. Controlling their environment is so important here.
Or, you could redirect them to a toy you want them to play with and reinforce them with treats and attention when they switch gears.
3. THE SOCKS AND SHOES SMELL LIKE YOU, PROBABLY WHY DOGS LIKE SOCKS
So it makes sense that your dog would be drawn to items that have strong (some cases stronger than others, but we’re not judging) scents. Since socks, slippers, and shoes spend a lot of time in contact with your body, they smell strongly of you.
Some dogs find that familiar scent comforting, especially if you are not around. Others view stealing your scent as a way to try to bond with you. Either way, it’s usually a positive association for your dog, even if it’s less than appealing to us!
HOW TO STOP STEALING SOCKS AND SHOES FOR THE SCENT
Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to get your scent fully out of your socks and shoes (even if you can’t smell them), so this one is handled a little differently.
First, you’re going to want to make sure your items are kept out of your dog’s reach. Then, you can transfer your scent to another item if you think they need comforting – for example, you can sleep with a blanket for a couple of nights and then put that blanket in their crate.
4. THEY ARE TEETHING
Unfortunately, that tends to be shoes, since they’re readily available and a tough material that feels good on sore gums.
HOW TO STOP STEALING SOCKS AND SHOES FOR TEETHING
We want our puppies to chew while they’re teething – it’s an important part of development. We just want them to chew on the right things.
5. DOGS OFTEN STEAL & CARRY AROUND SHOES & SOCKS WHEN THEY'RE BORED
Unfortunately, your shoes, socks, and really any other belongings are not safe from a bored dog. They’ll steal and hide them because they don’t really have anything else to do. Plus, it might get your attention, so that’s a win-win for them.
HOW TO STOP STEALING SOCKS AND SHOES OUT OF BOREDOM
With dogs, you’ll want to prevent boredom rather than respond to it to avoid destructive behaviors. How can you do that?
RECAP OF WHY DOGS STEAL SHOES & SOCKS
So, what did your troubleshooting conclude? Is your dog stealing your shoes or socks because they want to chew or because they want you? Something else?
Again, here's a quick recap of why dogs steal shoes & socks:
- Attention seeking
- It's a form of play (to them)
- The socks/shoes smell like you
- They're teething
- Your dog is bored
We want to hear all about your experience with this in the comments, especially if our chews helped you solve the problem!