Why Do Dogs Steal Laundry & 5 Ways to Stop Them

Will you ever suspect your dog when your dirty laundry goes missing? No? Well, sadly, dogs happen to be great thieves when it comes to laundry ranging from socks, underwear of any kind, shirts, shorts, etc. – they can literally ‘steal’ anything they come across, nothing is off the range. Some do go as far as stealing your shoes. Why do dogs steal laundry? Why are they so obsessed with it? Don’t be surprised when you find yourself in such a situation, you’re not alone in it.

Why do dogs steal laundry?

When you have dogs around, you will always notice a number of unfathomable behaviours like humping, howling, berserk digging, zoomies, sunbathing etc. Another of such behaviour is this ‘laundry crime’. Well, there are a number of reasons why your dog steals your dirty laundry. Some reasons include;

Your Laundry Carries Your Smell

This may sound a bit bizarre but in reality, dogs tend to target your laundry because it smells like you. In cases like this, the smellier your clothing, the more your dog probably loves it.

Dogs are pack animals and smelling your scent coupled with theirs could help in comforting your dog when you’re not around.

On the other hand, if you throw your laundry around carelessly, your dog may be forced to think that you left them there for them as a way of showing goodwill or a gift.

Different dogs treat your laundry differently when they get a hold of them – some prefer to cuddle them while others could choose to lick, or chew them to shreds.


Anxiety is another reason why your dog makes a run with your laundry. Dogs generally exhibit some compulsive behaviours when they’re uncomfortable or anxious. Running off with your laundry that smells like you to surround itself is one of the self-soothing and comforting strategies your dog could use in stressful situations or environments.


Dogs innately always look for means to expend their energy. When they find nothing doing or when they aren’t getting enough physical or mental stimulation, they are likely to become bored. Once they become bored, they tend to find other ways to get busy and entertain themselves and to them, stealing your laundry is one of those ways.

Dogs are Scavengers

Dogs tend to have a natural instinct that is inclined towards scavenging. Regardless of the fact that we try to domesticate dogs and curb some ‘wild tendencies’, some of these tendencies remain with them and one of such is scavenging. They could exhibit this by sniffing out for something smelly, warm or fun to play with. Whether it’s counter surfing, stealing out of the garbage, or raiding your laundry – some dogs remain opportunistic scavengers.

Attention Seeking Strategy

When your dog sees you around and would need to get you involved in some action, making a run with your laundry for a possible chase from you will be one of the options it will consider. It gets even more interesting for them when you engage in a tug-of-war with your laundry. Dogs enjoy your attention and will do anything to get that.

The danger of letting your dog steal your laundry

Dogs aren’t very good when it comes to deciding what they should, or should not, be ingesting. If your dog is left alone with a sock, shirt, or any other stolen object there’s always the possibility that they’ll decide to eat it.

5 Tips to Stop Your Dog From Stealing Your Clothes

Remove Temptation

Make a clear demarcation to keep your dog away from your laundry area. This can be achieved by simply closing the door or using a pet gate to cordon off the laundry room.

Provide Toys

Providing your dog with toys can help prevent boredom from setting in, particularly if your dog likes chewing on your stuff. If they don’t have enough toys for chewing or enough playtime with you, all these issues can lead to a dog destroying your yard and belongings. 

Don’t Overreact

Avoid scolding your puppy or reacting emotionally — even negative attention can still reinforce the behaviour.

Use Positive Reinforcement

If you try different ways of preventing your dog from nabbing on your clothes and it still does, it’s important not to react. Don’t chase the puppy down — this will make them think it’s a game and will reinforce the behaviour. Approach the puppy calmly and offer a treat or toy to distract their attention while you retrieve the garment.

Spend time with your dog

If you’re away from home frequently, try to spend as much time as you can with your dog when you have free time. Fill it up with dog-related fun!

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