• Thu. Jun 20th, 2024

Why Do Dogs Like Dirty Underwear? 10 Surprising Reasons


May 23, 2023
Fluffy dog playing with scrunchie, hair band or underwear clothes.


Fluffy dog playing with scrunchie, hair band or underwear clothes.

Undesirable behavior is common among all canine breeds. Some dogs bark too much. Others are aggressive. However, another frequently reported issue is destructiveness, which can include our clothes. While upbringing and training can influence it, behavior also has a genetic component.1 Some dogs inherit unwanted traits.

Several reasons can explain why some dogs like dirty underwear. Many factors are behind this unseemly behavior. You may be surprised to learn that you may be one of those causes.


The 10 Reasons Why Dogs Like Dirty Underwear

1. Affection for Its Owner

bernese dog cuddling with his owner
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Every pet owner believes their pup loves them. It turns out that this assumption is probably true. Research has shown that familiar scents, like those of an animal’s keeper, activate an area of the canine brain associated with affection and feelings. Science has shown that the emotional development of dogs is roughly that of a 2 ½-year-old child. They can experience excitement, fear, anger, and love.

As distasteful as it may seem to us, your dog may view your dirty clothes as a sign of you and deem them worthy of attention. It may be a canine way of being close to you.

2. Security

By the same token, a dog may feel comforted by your scent. Hanging out with your dirty laundry can calm a stressed or fearful animal. You may even find your dog sleeping on your clothes. After all, that’s when an animal is most vulnerable. Having your scent around them may help your pet sleep better with this feeling of security.

3. Teething

close up of a dog's mouth showing teeth and gums
Image Credit: laolaopui, Shutterstock

Puppies will be puppies when everything is fair game, regardless of whether it’s appropriate or not. That includes your laundry. Everything goes into a pup’s mouth at that age. It’s a time of awareness when a dog is actively exploring its world. Luckily, it’s also a period when you can train a puppy and shift its attention elsewhere from clothes to toys.

4. Just Another Toy

Dogs love playing with toys. For better or worse, some resemble everyday household items, presumably to amuse pet owners more than the dogs. If your pet picks up and chews a piece of your clothing, it may be that they simply don’t know any better and are confusing your underwear on the floor for another toy.

5. They Like the Smell

close up of white and tan dog's nose
Image Credit: PICNIC-Foto-Soest, Pixabay

Canines are better equipped in the olfactory department than humans. Their sense of smell is a million times more refined than ours, along with the brain area that interprets the signals. Your dog may be going after your underwear because they simply like the smell. Their nose is giving them this information more so than their taste buds. Nevertheless, the result is the same.

6. Compulsive Disorder

Sometimes, inappropriate behavior has other causes that may warrant a vet visit. A compulsive disorder that compels your dog to chew anything it finds is one of them. It often has a genetic reason instead of a lack of training on your part. Treatment usually involves behavior modification and medication in some cases. Your pet may target your laundry simply because they happen to be around it.

7. Anxiety

Pug dog looking out window, separation anxiety, lonely
Image Credit: Diana Parkhouse, Shutterstock

Anxiety can cause many types of unwanted behavior, including destructiveness in cases of separation issues. Many things can trigger it, such as moving to a new home or changing your schedule. Remember the emotions we mentioned that dogs can experience, like anger and fear? They may drive your pet’s behavior. We recommend discussing the problem with your vet.

8. Resource Guarding

Some dogs are more territorial than others. It often depends on early socialization and training. If your dog is picking up or chewing your laundry, they may be guarding what they view as precious. It can occur if you bring home another pet. The trick to curbing this behavior is to offer your dog something they would value more, such as a special treat. It’s essential not to fuel the fire by leaving your clothes on the floor.

9. Boredom

Bored Giant Black Schnauzer dog
Image Credit: Frank11, Shutterstock

Canines are intelligent animals. Daily mental stimulation is critical for their physical and mental well-being. The alternative is a bored dog, which is a recipe for disaster when it comes to your stuff. It can have serious consequences if your pet chews and swallows your clothing. That could set the stage for emergency surgery to treat a gastrointestinal obstruction.

10. Nutritional Deficiency

Sometimes, chewing and eating unusual things is a red flag for a nutritional deficiency. For example, dogs might ingest dirt if they aren’t getting enough of certain minerals. If your pet’s obsession with your clothes is something new, we recommend taking your pup to the vet to rule out an underlying medical condition that is at the root of the behavior.


Correcting the Unwanted Behavior

Discussing the situation with your vet can help determine what triggers this bad habit and figure out a way to remedy it. We suggest looking for any patterns in the behavior that may be the cause. Also, consider any changes to the regular routine that may be stressing your dog. If your vet has ruled out medical reasons, they may suggest behavior modification techniques.

Of course, the best way to stop this habit is by keeping your laundry off the floor. Don’t invite problems by making it easy for your pet. If you suspect your pet is bored or anxious, provide them with toys to occupy their time. Interactive toys will engage your dog and provide mental stimulation or enrichment. Long walks or a session at a doggy park can give your pup plenty of opportunities to sniff to their heart’s content.

The owner walks around the city with a dog of the Magyar Vizsla
Image Credit: bodnar.photo, Shutterstock



Some dogs are chewers. They’ll pick up anything they see. However, it’s a risky behavior that can have serious health consequences if your dog swallows pieces of clothing. Therefore, it’s vital to identify the triggers and correct this habit. We also suggest instructing your children to pick up their clothes to prevent this behavior. Better ways exist for your dog to show you that they love you.

Featured Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

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