Why Do Dogs Eat Underwear? [9 Reasons]

Does your dog have a habit of chewing your underwear? It might be that it’s simply a naughty pet. However, if this habit persists, you should be concerned.

Why do dogs eat underwear? This odd behavior in dogs could be caused by various reasons. Understanding why your dog eats your underwear can help you find a solution.

why do dogs eat underwear
Why do dogs eat underwear? [9 Reasons]

This understanding will not only help you protect your dog but could also save you from embarrassment.

This article discusses nine reasons why dogs eat underwear and how best to prevent it.

1. Pica Syndrome

Pica Syndrome is a condition where dogs crave and eat non-food items. Dogs suffering from Pica can eat anything from magazines to wallpaper. But items infused with their owner’s scent, in particular, are irresistible

This digestive disorder may be caused by behavioral issues like separation anxiety and stress. Alternatively, it could be due to health issues, such as:

  • Nutritional or hormonal imbalances
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid problems

A Pica diagnosis is usually behavioral. Identifying the cause of your dog’s Pica is key to finding appropriate treatment. High energy dog breeds like the Labrador Retriever are more susceptible to Pica.

why is my dog chewing carpet
Why is my dog chewing carpet? [How to stop?]

2. Dogs are Scent Oriented

Dogs possess a strong olfactory system that is approximately 100 million times stronger than that of human beings. Primarily, dogs rely on their sense of smell to take in and translate information. Naturally, they gravitate towards intimate odors, as they contain pheromones, which they consider valuable.

Since nothing smells more like you than your underwear, they will steal it, and because they like to chew, they may eat your underwear in the process. Dirty underwear especially has a stronger smell. Your dog may get drawn to this, so store your delicates in sealed laundry baskets.

beagle with his sense of smell
Dogs have incredible sense of smell.

3. Attention Seeking

Why do dogs eat underwear? One reason might be because they’re trying to get you to notice them.

When your pup plays with their toys, you might not pay attention. If they grab and start eating your underwear, they will catch your attention. You will immediately call out and give them a chase. To your dog, it’s playtime!

Also, it could be that they are trying to get a treat. Your dog knows that when they return your undergarments on cue, they get rewarded with treats.

When this happens, it’s best to act uninterested, as this will deter your canine friend from their attention-seeking mission. Alternatively, keep your undies out of reach of the dog.

French bulldog looking
Funny French Bulldog looking at the camera.

4. Teething

Teething is an inherent biological process that all puppies go through from the time they wean till around the age of ten months.

Teething is uncomfortable, and it’s normal for puppies to chew on items. Teething soothes the painful gums caused by emerging adult teeth.

During this stage, purchase an assortment of safe chew toys. This will hold their attention and prevent them from looking for alternatives like shoes and undergarments. It’s also best to train them on what they are or aren’t allowed to chew at this age since younger dogs are more malleable than older dogs.

Labrador puppy biting
A Labrador puppy biting the finger of his owner.

5. Weaning

If a dog gets weaned sooner than eight months, they’re likely to develop a habit of sucking on their master’s underwear. These items of clothing are soft and intimate and remind them of nursing. This human-canine bonding is all they’ve grown to know.

Also, your fur baby could likely be trying to remove plaque from its teeth. The plaque is sticky and uncomfortable. 

When acquiring a pet, you should confirm that they have been properly weaned. If this is not the case, professionally train them on constructive chewing to ease this transition. To prevent plaque build-up, brush your animal at least three times every week with dog toothpaste and a toothbrush.

puppy eat fruit
A cute little puppy is eating fruits.

6. Idleness

Idle dogs get bored easily, and this leads to unhappiness. Also, they become restless and subsequently develop naughty behaviors.

When you’re separated from your dog for long periods, like when you’re on vacation, your dog misses your companionship. As such, they may go in search of items with your scent. Your pup may settle for your underwear as these have a strong smell, which your canine finds comforting.

When left unattended, dogs get bored and search for activities to pass the time. In this case, your dog playing with and eating your underwear is a form of entertainment. Other choice items include:

This rampage is preventable by subjecting your canine to constructive mind-stimulating activities, including food puzzle games and obstacle courses that occupy their attention.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel on a carpet
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel lying on a carpet.

7. Inadequate Physical Activity

A pooch that is not exercised enough has a lot of energy to expend and is likely to become a menace. For example, your dog is likely to indulge in primary destructive behavior, such as digging in the wrong places and eating your underwear.

Big dog breeds like German Shepherds generally require more exercise, although this is subject to other factors, such as age and fitness level.

When these tendencies are accompanied by other symptoms like shivering and obsessive-compulsive destruction, it’s classified as secondary-compulsive behavior. This indicates other underlying issues like anxiety. Seek professional help for your dog immediately.

Most importantly, exercise your dog enough to tire them out.

black German Shepherd
Black German Shepherd running.

8. Hunting

Dogs instinctively enjoy the thrill of a hunt. Your dog won’t necessarily hunt for food as it is tamed, but it will enjoy trailing objects by their scent, grabbing and playing around with them. 

Since socks and knickers contain strong pheromones, dogs will often hunt them and run around with them in their mouth. This is akin to a predator capturing its prey and thrashing it around in the mouth to kill it.

Other fabrics and elastic components might also be subjected to this. Dogs will usually fish these from dirty clothes hampers. Thrashing around may tear them up, and if the dog ingests large pieces, they may block the gut leading to serious health complications.

Pick up any clothes lying around to minimize the chances of this, and find pet-friendly toys for your dog to play with.

dog bites sock
Dog bites a blue sock.

9. Love and Protection

Dogs, like humans, need love and affection to thrive. A dog may eat your underwear or rub himself all over your clothes to try to smell like you. This is because they associate your scent with love, and smell is their primary way of communication.

Your scent also provides your dog with a sense of security. In the wild, associating with a strong leader provides the subject with protection. A dog considers you powerful, and they reckon that smelling like you wards off predators.

Alternatively, they could be protecting you from unwarranted visitors since eating your underwear effectively hides your smell from any lurking predators.

dog and clothes
Dog loves his owner’s clothes!

Final Thoughts

Why do dogs eat underwear? Dogs often eat non-food items, including underwear. This habit may be a sign of an underlying condition like anxiety, and it’s important to talk to a veterinarian about it. 

For some dogs, this is a behavioral issue that can be ironed out by a professional dog trainer. Most importantly, keep your underwear as far away from your dog as possible.