Why Does My Dog TAKE My Clothes When I Leave?

Dogs are known to be man’s best friend, and as such, they often display affection and loyalty in various ways. One of those ways is by taking your clothes when you leave. Dogs may do this for a few reasons, with some being evidence of their deep bond with you.

First, it’s important to understand that dogs have an incredible sense of smell. They use it to gather information about their environment, as well as their human companions. When you’re away from home, your scent lingers on your clothes.

why does my dog take my clothes when I leave
Why does my dog take my clothes when I leave? Unveiling Canine Behavior

Reasons Why Dog Steal Clothes

Scent AttachmentYour scent on the clothes comforts them; it feels like a part of you is with them.
Attention SeekingThey might steal clothes to get your attention when you return.
BoredomLack of mental stimulation might lead them to play with anything available, including clothes.
AnxietySeparation anxiety may cause them to act out by taking your clothes.
PlayfulnessSome dogs may simply find it fun to play with clothes, especially if they’re soft or chewable.
Teething (in puppies)Puppies may chew on clothes to relieve teething discomfort.

Understanding your dog’s behavior can strengthen your bond and help you provide the appropriate care and training. If your dog’s behavior changes suddenly or seems concerning, consulting with a professional may be wise.

Going Deeper – Why Your Dogs is Acting a Thief

Your dog may take your clothes as a way to feel close to you, seeking the comfort of your scent while you’re gone. It’s like holding on to a cherished memento, except it’s a pile of your laundry.

Another reason is that this behavior can be a manifestation of separation anxiety. Dogs who experience separation anxiety may become distressed when their owners aren’t around, and grabbing your clothes gives them a sense of familiarity and security. They might also display other signs of anxiety such as whining, pacing, destructive behaviors, or excessive barking.

In this case, addressing their emotional needs may require professional guidance.

It’s also possible that your dog is simply playing around or trying to initiate a game of sorts. After all, it’s not uncommon for dogs to bring their toys or other items to their owners when they leave, as a way of saying, “Here, take this so you’ll remember to come back and play with me.” This behavior can be seen as a combination of mischief and optimism.

On the other hand, grabbing your clothes might just be an opportunity for your dog to get some attention. In their mind, taking your clothes might be a surefire way to elicit a reaction from you or whoever else is around. They know that when they grab your clothes, you’ll eventually notice, and like magic, they’ve successfully managed to become the center of attention.

It’s essential to pay attention to your dog’s body language when they exhibit this behavior. Clues such as wagging tails, relaxed body postures, and playful attitudes can help you determine whether their intention is purely playful or if there is an underlying emotional issue that needs to be addressed. By understanding your dog’s behavior and motivations, you can ensure that it’s nothing more than a quirky expression of love and attachment.

And if it turns out to be something more serious, seek professional help to address the issue and keep your wardrobe intact.

Reasons Why Dogs Take Clothes?

Separation Anxiety

One common reason dogs might take your clothes when you leave is separation anxiety. Our canine companions often form strong bonds with their humans, and some may struggle when we’re not around. Snuggling or chewing on your clothes can actually provide them much-needed comfort due to your familiar scent that remains on the garments.

sad poodle
Poodles are smart and social – and a prone to separation anxiety. This can lead to problem behavior like excessive barking.

Familiar Scent

Dogs have a remarkable sense of smell, and they often associate certain scents with their trusted humans. Grabbing your clothes when you’re away can simply be your dog’s way of seeking your comforting familiar scent. They may feel reassured by having something that smells like you nearby.

dog and clothes
Dog loves his owner’s clothes!

Think of it as their doggy security blanket.

Boredom and Mental Stimulation

Another potential reason for your dog’s fascination with your clothes is boredom and the need for mental stimulation. When you’re not around, your pooch might be searching for ways to keep themselves entertained. Clothes can offer them interesting textures and a satisfying chewing challenge while waiting for their favorite human to come back.

Bichon Frise home alone
Bichon Frise home alone lying on the floor.

Scavenging Instinct

Lastly, dogs have an innate scavenging instinct to find treasures around their environment. Your clothes might be regarded as valuable “prey” for them when you’re not home – a prize, they’re proud to conquer. It’s important to note that some breeds like terriers or hunting breeds could be more prone to this behavior due to their inborn traits.

Maltese puppy laying on clothes
The Maltese puppy lays on top of the clothes in the suitcase.

Remember, understanding your dog’s behavior is essential when addressing the root cause of their fascination with your clothes. You might want to consider providing alternative sources of entertainment or comfort like puzzle toys or personal items with your scent on them to keep that shirt-chewing habit at bay!

Chewing and Teething Issues

Dogs, just like humans, go through a teething phase. This often leads to an increase in chewing habits, especially when your furry friends are experiencing discomfort. Objects like your clothes become perfect chew toys to alleviate their pain.

Havanese shows its teeth
A Havanese on a gray background shows its teeth.

So, when you leave the house and Fido grabs your favorite sweater, it’s likely because it provides oral gratification and a sense of relief.

Moreover, puppies explore the world mainly through their mouths. Inadvertently, your little four-legged buddy might see your clothes as a new, exciting plaything. Plus, clothes carry your scent, which could be comforting to your pup, making them a preferred chewing object.

Don’t be surprised if your dog snickers (in their own way) while nibbling on that hilarious Christmas sweater you got last year.

In some cases, a dog chewing on your clothes can be a sign of destructive behavior. This often stems from separation anxiety or insufficient mental stimulation. When bored or lonely, dogs may resort to wreaking havoc on your wardrobe as a way to cope.

Picture your dog as an action movie hero, only instead of a dramatic explosion scene, their mission is to shred your old T-shirt into a million pieces.

To help address chewing and teething issues, provide your dog with proper chew toys and enough mental and physical stimulation. Establish a routine that includes regular walks, playtime, and obedience training. And next time you leave, place your clothes in an out-of-reach spot to avoid any surprise sartorial disasters.

After all, dogs will be dogs, but nobody wants to explain “it was my dog’s favorite chew toy” as an excuse for their mismatched outfit at work.

Health Concerns

It’s certainly amusing to find your dog cuddling with your clothes when you return home, but there can be some health concerns related to this behavior. For instance, if your dog starts eating the clothes, it can lead to serious issues such as vomiting or bowel obstruction.

Chihuahua open mouth
Chihuahua mouth wide opened.

Imagine Fido trying to digest that pair of socks you thought had vanished into the great laundry void. Not only will Fido feel nauseous, but he might also end up making “laundry soup” all over the living room carpet.

Another health concern is bowel obstruction, which occurs when a swallowed item gets stuck in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. It’s like when you try to force that extra-large slice of pizza down, but instead of breathing heavily and sipping water, Fido’s situation can become life-threatening.

Ingesting clothes can also lead to other complications like:

  • Dental damage: Chewing on clothes can damage your dog’s teeth and gums. It’s basically like using a t-shirt to floss – not the best idea!
  • Choking hazard: Pieces of fabric can lodge in a dog’s throat, creating a dangerous situation. Picture trying to swallow a sweater whole; it’s not going to be a fun time.

While we understand that your dog’s clothes-snatching escapades may seem like an adorable quirk, keeping an eye on their behavior and ensuring they don’t eat the fabric is crucial for their well-being. After all, we want our furry friends to stay healthy and happy, even if our wardrobe choices become their playthings!

Bonding and Communication

Dogs are known for their loyalty and strong bonds with their human companions. One quirky behavior often observed is when dogs take their owners’ clothes when they leave. What lies behind this adorable yet sometimes frustrating act?

big dog chews a shoe
The white big dog chews a shoe at the backyard.

Dogs, much like humans, crave connection and communication. When you’re away, your scent on your clothes serves as a comforting reminder of their favorite person: you! By taking your clothes when you’re gone, your dog maintains a sense of closeness and familiarity.

It’s their way of saying, “I miss you and I don’t want to feel lonely.”

In some cases, this behavior may also be a strategic move to ensure your timely return. Picture this: Your dog takes your favorite pair of socks, and you come home to find them sprawled out on the living room floor. Footwear held hostage!

It’s almost as if your canine partner in crime is saying, “You better come back soon, or else!” 🐾

Furthermore, your dog’s clothes-snatching tendencies could be their way of engaging in play or seeking attention. In keeping with their lighthearted nature, dogs often use humor and playfulness as a way to communicate. By interacting with your clothes while you’re away, it’s possible that they’re simply trying to pass the time and have a little fun.

It’s crucial to keep a healthy balance in this bonding ritual and ensure that your dog doesn’t become overly attached or anxious in your absence. Encouraging independent play and providing engaging toys can help alleviate their need to constantly hold on to your belongings.

In conclusion, the act of taking your clothes when you leave is your dog’s unique way of maintaining a connection and communicating with you, even when you’re not physically present. So, the next time you find your socks scattered across the floor or your shirt tucked away in their bed, just remember that it’s your canine friend’s heartwarming attempt at keeping you close.

Preventing and Addressing the Issue

Providing Alternatives

One way to prevent your dog from taking your clothes when you leave is by providing them with alternative items to keep them occupied. For example, invest in some dog toys that cater to their chewing and playing needs. This could include tough chew toys, treat-dispensing toys, or puzzle toys that challenge their minds.

different dog toys on the grass
Dog toys should be cleaned and sanitized.

By giving them their own toys to engage with, you’re not only preventing them from focusing on your clothes, but also providing a mentally stimulating outlet for their energy.


Another approach to stopping your dog from stealing your clothes is to use training techniques. Teaching your dog the “leave it” command can be very effective in dissuading them from grabbing your clothes. Start by presenting a less desirable item, such as a toy, and say “leave it” when your dog tries to grab it.

owner trains his dog
Owner trains his dog by teaching some basic commands!

When they obey, reward them with praise and a treat. Gradually work your way up to using your clothing as the object, ensuring your dog has a solid understanding of the command before transitioning.

In addition to “leave it,” teaching your dog “drop it” can be helpful in case they already have your clothes in their mouth. This command will encourage them to let go of the item without damaging it.

Encouraging Good Behavior

Positive reinforcement is key to shaping your dog’s behavior. Praise and reward them whenever they display appropriate actions or choose their toys over your clothes. This will help them understand that choosing their toys is more beneficial than taking your clothes.

man petting Australian Shepherd
A man petting a Australian Shepherd and checks on its coat for any dirt.

A little humor goes a long way too – think creatively with your choice of dog toys. For instance, you could buy a toy shaped like a shoe that says “Chew this, not dad’s work shoes!” Or even toys that resemble your clothes, so your dog gets the satisfaction of feeling like they’re stealing your stuff, but in reality, they’re just playing with their own toy.

Remember, it’s important to address the issue confidently and patiently. Your dog is part of the family, and with some positive reinforcement, a few laughs, and the right training techniques, you’ll be able to solve this clothes-snatching behavior in no time!

The Harm in Encouraging the Behavior

It is not uncommon for our furry friends to develop a taste for playing with our clothes, especially when we leave the house. This seemingly innocent act can quickly escalate if left unchecked. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to realize the potential harm in encouraging this behavior from our beloved fur babies.

dog and the clothes
A dog destroys owner’s clothing inside the closet..

One downside to allowing your dog to steal your clothes is that they might inadvertently destroy your favorite outfits. Canines have a knack for chewing and ripping apart whatever they can get their paws on. Picture returning home to find your favorite sweater turned into a glorified dog toy.


Another possible concern is that your dog may ingest something they shouldn’t. Dogs can swallow buttons, zippers, or small parts of the garments, leading to potential gastrointestinal issues, including choking and blockages. In severe cases, this may even warrant a trip to the vet and costly medical procedures.

Besides the risk of losing clothes and endangering your dog’s health, permitting this behavior can also lead to more unwanted habits. Dogs might begin to steal other household items, such as shoes, remote controls, or even food from the counter. Establishing boundaries early on is crucial in maintaining a well-behaved and disciplined dog.

But why do our canine companions feel the need to run off with our clothes in the first place? A few reasons for this behavior include:

  • Separation anxiety: Dogs may associate your clothing items with you, which brings them comfort when you’re away.
  • Boredom: Stealing clothes can be an exciting game for a dog, especially when seeking attention and alleviating boredom.
  • Scent-seeking: Your clothes carry your scent, and dogs find comfort and familiarity in your unique aroma.

Addressing the root cause of the problem, such as providing enough physical activity or mental stimulation, can lead to a well-rounded and content fur baby. Remember, it’s essential to put adequate effort into setting boundaries and reinforcing good behavior rather than encouraging these potentially harmful acts. Let’s save those favorite outfits and give our dogs better ways to stay entertained and connected with us!


Dogs taking their owner’s clothes when they leave can be both puzzling and endearing behavior. There are several reasons why a dog might do this, and understanding these reasons can help strengthen the bond between the owner and their furry friend.

Firstly, our canine companions may take clothes because they miss us and want something that smells like us nearby. Keeping our scent close can provide comfort and security when we’re not around. We don’t take it personally; after all, who wouldn’t miss us when we’re gone?

Another reason is that dogs often use their mouths to explore the world. They might simply find the texture of our clothes interesting and take the opportunity to investigate when we’re not around. In this case, our absence just happens to be the perfect time for canine curiosity.

Mystery solved!

Dogs are also pack animals, and in the wild, they would often bring items back to their pack to share. So, when your dog takes your clothes, they might just be fulfilling their ancestral role in the pack – keeping resources close and accessible. Talk about a team player!

Lastly, it’s possible that dogs take our clothes as a playful invitation to interact with us. They know that we’re likely to react when we see them running off with our favorite sweater, and sometimes, all they want is a little game of chase or tug-of-war. Who can resist those adorable, mischief-maker eyes?

So, the next time your dog takes your clothes when you leave, remember that it’s just a part of their unique and lovable nature. While it might be inconvenient at times, try to appreciate the underlying reasons behind the behavior, and have a little chuckle about their canine quirks. After all, isn’t that what makes them such great companions?