Much like sticks and stuffed animals, dogs like to play with socks. In fact the dirtier the sock the better, although dogs aren’t actually that fussy and like to chew on and play with socks whatever state they are in. Dogs also get bored very easily, so a pair of socks can be a great item to chew on or even destroy if they are feeling really mischievous.
With this in mind, why exactly does my dog like socks? Socks are a long and vertical-shaped piece of fabric that appeals to a dog’s playful or destructive instinct. Some dogs are attracted to the smell of socks, either clean or dirty, while others may chew on socks during moments of separation anxiety or simply out of plain and natural curiosity.
In this article, we are going to tell you everything there is to know about dogs and their quirky liking for socks. Since practically any breed of dog (including a Cavapoo) has been know to play with or destroy socks, it is certainly a question worth investigating.
So be sure to keep your socks out of reach and read on to find out more about why dogs like socks.
Why do dogs like socks?
Socks are such a common item for dogs to play with that you may be asking yourself why does my dog likes socks? It’s an odd behavior, but there are a few different theories on why this is. Let’s take a closer look at each.
No matter what a sock may smell like, it seems that just the scent of a sock is pleasurable to dogs. The scent can be appealing in all of the different categories in this section.
The first detail in this category concerning scent is that socks have a lingering aroma of an owner that we cannot smell but dogs certainly can. It doesn’t matter if the sock is clean or dirty, dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell, and yes, we even have a distinctive scent to our dogs.
It can also be said that dogs just like the scent of the fabric that socks naturally have. Socks, like underwear, are typically made of thicker and more durable types of fabric which have a more distinctive natural scent than thinner fabrics.
If socks are dirty, although this sounds unappealing to us, dogs are curious about strong odors, therefore, this will make them chew on the sock to learn more about the odor.
A puppy loves to teeth on both soft and hard items. Even young adult dogs and older dogs will display this type of behavior, although at a lesser and more random amount than seen in a puppy.
Socks are fabric, and the thicker the sock, the more appealing it will be to a dog’s teething behavior. Eating socks should never be allowed, but it is okay to give a dog an old sock to allow them to teeth.
We had this problem with our Cavapoo Rosie when she was a bit younger. She would have piles of chew toys but would always go for one of my socks since the fabric was different and a bit thicker. In fact she still does it now, stealing sock from the laundry basket the minute she gets the chance.
If you are absent a lot during the day or become preoccupied, a dog will sometimes find and start chewing a sock out of complete boredom. Doodles in particular have lots of energy and mental stimulation, so you can expect to find them chewing on a sock out of boredom.
Also, dogs can become bored with their standard chew toys and will wish to seek out something else to play with or chew on; a sock makes for a perfect prize.
Dogs crave attention from their owners. There are certain breeds, like Boxers or Jack Russell Terriers, that crave owner attention more than others, but any breed will want you to notice them at the most random of moments.
A good way of grabbing your attention is to retrieve a piece of your clothing with a sock being the easiest item to carry. Your dog may bring you one of your socks simply to grab your attention or to let you know that they wish to be playful.
Security and Separation Anxiety
Remember how I said that dogs can smell an owner’s scent on a sock even if the sock is fresh out of the laundry? Separation anxiety is a mental disorder that can develop in dogs that occurs when they are left all alone, such as if you must go to work or even run errands for a few hours.
This can develop in puppies and is very common with any dog that has been adopted or rehomed. In fact a lot of dogs are suffering with separation anxiety due to the recent lockdown too and owners having to return back to work.
At its most extreme, dogs can severely act out inside the home with behaviors ranging from urination and pooping on the floor and even the furniture, to loud howling and banging themselves into the door or a window. It’s as if a dog completely abandons any training you have given them because they are in panic mode.
Milder cases of separation anxiety can include destructive behaviors like scratching furniture, doors or destroying items like drapes and loose pieces of clothing a dog can access – like socks – since your scent will be on these items.
The behavior is only stopped when the owner returns home, and it’s never a good idea to scold your dog because this will only reinforce the behavior because it comes from stress due to loss.
This disorder can be treated by veterinarians with mild anti-depressants or mood stabilizers as well as behavior modification therapy techniques you can use to train your dog.
For more information on how to cope with a dog with separation anxiety, read our blog on how to train your Cavapoo to be left alone for some top tips.
Apart from security issues, there will be times when your dog simply wants to be destructive. Dogs get bored or they simply want to tap into their evolutionary traits where ancient wolves survived by hunting.
Destructive behavior can be fixed, and you should use training to ensure you do not run out of socks! Try reintroducing old chew toys to your dog after scolding them with stern vocal techniques with the destroyed sock in your other hand.
Buy your dog new toys so they will direct their energy to that instead of socks, and of course, start keeping your socks inside a drawer or keeping the laundry or bathroom door closed at all times.
Finally, dogs just enjoy socks during playtime. There may be times when there is nothing you can do to keep your dog from picking up a sock and playing with it.
Stealing socks from the laundry for chewing and being playful is just part of a dog’s curious and mischievous nature.
Rosie enjoys waving a sock at us from across the backyard and enjoys the thrill of the chase when we attempt to get it back off her.
Why does my dog steal socks?
Stealing a sock, be it clean or dirty, is likely because your dog wants to be playful with the piece of clothing. Dogs typically like toys and games that will give chase, and a sock can appear to them like another dog or even a small animal they would like to chase.
Stealing a sock could also align with your scent; socks smell like you or another family member, and this is appealing to dogs and can even replace you if you are unable to be playful with your dog when they want to be.
It can also be said that just stealing an item of yours, like a sock, is something of a thrill to your dog and they are trying to see how far they can push you to get your attention.
How to prevent my dog from stealing my socks
To prevent a dog that likes to steal socks, the most obvious, and in some ways effective, solution is to keep the socks out of reach of your dog.
After doing laundry, be sure to roll all socks up and immediately place them in drawers in the bedroom. Unless your dog is able to use their teeth to pull open a drawer, all clean socks will be out of their reach.
For soiled socks in your laundry room or bathroom, always make sure you never leave soiled clothes on the floor in these rooms or the bedroom. Make sure the dirty clothes hamper is out of reach of your dog or just be sure to leave the doors closed on these rooms at all times.
Apart from this, you can train your dog to know that socks are off-limits. Hold a sock in front of your dog and sternly (but not aggressively) tell them that behavior is bad.
Repeat this every time your dog steals a sock. Be sure to present them with a toy instead and make sure you acknowledge the distinction between the two and that you prefer them to chew on the toy.
How to stop dogs from chewing on socks
Chewing socks is by far the most infuriating behavior when it comes to dogs and socks. Dogs like the soft and durable texture of the fabric so it can be hard to break the cycle of chewing behaviors.
The same process applies, and you should focus on keeping the socks out of your dogs reach and reinforcing your preference that they should chew on available toys instead. If you don’t have any chewing toys for your dog, by all means, make sure you get at least one.
These adorable plush toys by Zippypaws are soft and durable and can even resemble a sock when it is outstretched.
You should work to stop this behavior since allowing it to happen can actually encourage your dog to continue being destructive to items they shouldn’t be destructive with.
We always want to give our dogs complete freedom and lots of love, but rules and guidance are also crucially important since dogs can develop a mind of their own when it comes to everything inside the home.
For more recommendations on ways to entertain your dog, check out our guide on best toys for Cavapoos.
What to do if your dog eats a sock
If your dog actually eats a sock, this can lead to some severe problems.
The fabric of a sock is not meant to be ingested by any living thing, and this can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, and possibly even obstructions or blockages in a dog’s colon.
Furthermore, soiled socks contain a wide array of harmful bacteria and pathogens. When dogs ingest these pathogens, it is not uncommon for a dog to become very ill due to the bacteria.
Body moisture and odor are what cause socks to become soiled, but rather humans realize it or not, we are actually picking up small amounts of outside dirt or debris with every step we take even with our shoes on.
A dog is ingesting all of this every time they chew on a soiled sock.
If your dog eats a sock, it is essential to immediately contact a veterinarian to get a consultation or opinion.
It is likely that a vet will want you to bring your dog in so they can run some tests to ensure the sock is not causing internal problems or to make sure that it does not lead to some sort of infection or illness.
In summary, we can see that dogs like socks for a wide variety of different reasons. Scent, texture, softness, boredom, anxiety, or just plain curiosity are all the different reasons why socks fascinate a dog.
Be sure to always keep your socks out of your dog’s reach if you want to completely stop the behavior. Also make sure to buy your dog plenty of substitute chew toys and encourage your dog to gnaw and play with these toys instead of choosing to chew on a sock!