If your dog has been stealing your clothes, you may wonder why he is doing so. Dogs, especially in their puppy stage, often take their owners' clothes and shoes without permission. Sometimes they bite these clothes, although in some cases they only lie down next to them.
This type of cases occurs in all kinds of breeds, although golden retrievers and Yorkshire terriers are more likely to display this behavior that has an explanation and ways to correct it.
So, why does my dog steal my clothes? Separation anxiety  is one of the major reasons. A dog that is not used to being alone will often look for things and like clothes to remind him of his owner. It may also as a result of the boredom of he is just seeking your attention.
While it may not seem like a major problem, keep in mind that puppies who ingest clothing could be at risk of serious, life-threatening injuries.
Also Related: Learn why your dog may be dog sleeping on your clothes
Main reasons why your dog steals your clothes
However, even though this behavior may seem similar to all dogs, the reasons they carry it out are not always the same.
1. Separation Anxiety
The most common reason your dog steals your clothes is simply that they remind him of you, and this is tied to issues that arise from the anxiety of getting separated from his owner. Dogs that are not used to being alone are often looking for some items that remind them of their owners by smell.
In this way, chewing is not premeditated, but only a reaction to the stress caused by being away from the one they love.
Their sense of smell is extremely strong, and being around our scent from smell captured by our clothes gives them a sense of comfort and security.
2. Lack of exercise or play
All dogs (even when they are puppies) need physical exercise. Hence the importance of walks and games to expend their accumulated energy. If your dog is bored and has not released this energy, he can choose your clothes to get engaged with. In this case, it is expected that they bite it and drag it to pieces.
3. He’s seeking attention or bored
Another reason dogs steal clothes is that they want your attention.
If running away with clothe encourages you to chase him, you may be sending him a wrong signal and will misinterpret your action for a reward. This will make your dog repeat that behavior as often as possible!
When it comes to these attention-seeking “behaviors,” resist the urge to give in to the game. Don't chase or yell at your puppy.
Instead, call him calmly and encourage him to release the item in exchange for a favorite treat or a play session with his favorite toy.
Also, consider rotating the toys he has access to, to avoid getting bored with the selection. Choose three or four to have available at any given time and change them often.
What to do when the dog steals shoes
If your dog steals shoes and clothes in your presence, you should not chase him, because he could interpret that behavior as a reward game, let alone scold him or punish him, because he would not understand why.
In this case, it is important to divert his attention from our clothes to games, which can be his own, always at his disposal, or a different game, like balls, to be played with at the moment.
If instead, your dog steals clothes when you are not there, you must act by giving him a piece of clothing, like an old t-shirt, unwashed and with your smell, to leave on his bed or in his crate.
In this way, Fido will understand that that object is his but “depicts us,” and he will be reassured without confusing that old t-shirt with the ones you want him to stay away from.
How to stop your dog from stealing your clothes
> Don't leave your clothes within his reach! This may seem obvious, but dogs can get clothes out of laundry baskets and out of the washing machine, so check well to see if he can access the basket. Use a basket with a lid and put it in a closet if necessary.
> If the reason for his behavior is a lack of exercise and play, you can imagine what the solution is: dedicate time for your dog by organizing play sessions or take him for a walk at least one hour a day. If there are dog parks, the good idea is to take him to interact with other animals and also wear him out.
You'll see how soon you'll start to see results, and his behavior will improve.
> Avoid boredom as much as possible when you leave him alone. I always recommend using “kong” type toys that, when chewed, release a reward. It will ease his boredom and anxiety when you're not there, and it's also very important to provide him with some other choices!
> Dogs need to spend quality time with their owners not to feel neglected; however, it is necessary to train your dog to be alone.
For this reason, it is recommended not to say goodbye to your dog in an emotional way before leaving home, nor to greet him in the same way when you return.
Also, it is necessary to help him get used to the sounds and activities that may occur when you are leaving your home—for example, playing with the keys, putting on shoes or even opening and closing the door several times a day so that he gets used to these sounds and does not associate them with your departure.
Don’t Forget About ACTUAL Training.
While treats and toys may help keep your dog busy and stimulate him, they do not replace training. Just like we need to enrich our kiddies, we need to dedicate time to help our dog’s brains develop. It shouldn’t just be entertainment and treats every time! It’s sort of synonymous with placing a child in front of a T.V. and expecting to improve their overall behavior and well-being.
And training your dog isn’t just about getting them to shake a paw or sit when you ask them to. It should be about making them more intelligent. A more intelligent dog will:
- be more obedient
- have better temperament
- have a stronger bond with you
- learn new skills faster
- not have resistance and anxiety problems
So if you’re a new dog parent to a puppy or adult dog, or you’re just wanting to learn some new skills, I recommend embarking in some sort of training. Professional training, however, can be quite expensive and time-consuming. I really like this training course (opens a new tab). It's online, it was created and often updated by a professional dog trainer, and it really helps you understand how to better stimulate and enrich your puppy's (or dog's) life.
You’ll also get access to a private forum and updated content. Don’t get me wrong, while applying the techniques in this course won't make your dog a diva under a week. Its slow, gradual method will see your dog transform into a more intelligent dog that can take instructions obediently and help you understand how you may be able to make changes in your approaches with training and trying to change behaviors.
It's really not that expensive and a resource I think a lot of dog parents can benefit from. Interestingly, there is a 100% money-back guarantee in place should you find the course unfit for your dog.
While there are several reasons why dogs steal clothes or play and cuddle with their owners' personal belongings, you must try to avoid the accidental ingestion of clothing, especially in the case of a puppy, by keeping all tempting items off the floor and in a basket or closet.
If you suspect your dog has swallowed an item of clothing, seek veterinary attention immediately.
Remember, your dog really wants to spend time with you; make sure you sit with him and go out and play together every day!