If your dog is constantly hiding your socks, you may wonder why he does this. It’s a little strange, right? Well at least it was to me when I noticed my Cockapoo Bailey doing it… It got me thinking. It it something that you can, or should stop? If so, how? Well, here are all of the answers you are looking for.
So, why does my dog hide my socks? Dogs may hide socks out of boredom or loneliness. Other times it may be due to an instinctual need to scavenge. And sometimes dogs simply like the taste or texture of socks.
The last one is pretty gross. But let’s assume it’s a clean pair of socks for everyone involved!
With these in mind, let’s continue to explore them before turning to an appropriate response that you can adopt the next time you find your dog in the act!
Reasons Why A Dog May Hide Your Socks
Your dog might hide your socks because he’s bored, he has separation anxiety, he likes the taste or texture of your socks, or he’s acting out on scavenging behavior.
Your Dog Is Bored
If your dog is bored, he will look for ways to entertain himself, including chewing on your socks.
Dogs can spend hours with socks, as they’re soft, they smell like you, and they’re very entertaining to rip into shreds.
You can tell your dog is bored if:
- He tips things over
- He digs things up
- He’s always demanding attention from you
- He’s acting restless, as if he can’t keep still
- He jumps on you or on your guests
- He barks too much
Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
It might be that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety.
When you’re not around, your socks are a soft, smelly source of safety and comfort for your dog.
Your socks carry your particular scent, so having them close by is the next best thing for your dog to having you home.
Here are some signs your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety:
- Peeing inside the home
- Not eating his treats or his food
- Too much howling or barking
- Escape attempts (some dogs can become seriously injured while trying to escape to reach you)
- Panting and drooling
- Trembling, pacing, or whining
- Destructive behavior like scratching, chewing, digging, or ripping things apart
If you do suspect your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, you will probably want to consult a dog behaviorist.
Separation anxiety can be tricky to treat, but it’s essential you find a solution for your dog, as this type of anxiety is very painful for them.
Your Dog Likes The Texture Of Your Socks
Socks have a very appealing texture for dogs.
When dogs discover the soft, mushy feel of socks in their mouths, they can become determined to hang onto these socks for comfort.
Your Dog Likes The Taste Of Your Socks
Believe it or not, some dogs like the taste of smelly socks.
The more they smell like you, the more your dog will probably want to carry them around.
Your Dog Is Demonstrating Scavenging Behavior
Our domestic dogs have descended from wild dog ancestors, and as such, they have built-in behaviors such as scavenging.
It was as early as 15,000 years ago that dogs were domesticated – before that, they hunted other animals for food.
By stealing your socks and hiding them, your dog may be acting out on his hunting instincts. He may ‘hunt’ your socks and then hide his ‘prey’ to eat later at his leisure.
If you have other animals in your house, it could also be your dog is hiding your socks to keep them safe from the other animals.
Should You Stop Your Dog From Hiding Your Socks?
Whether you should stop your dog from hiding your socks or not depends very much on the reason he’s doing it. If he’s doing it because of a state of unhappiness such as boredom or separation anxiety, it’s essential to address these problems first. The sock problem will then take care of itself. In other cases, you may have to relinquish a few socks for peace and quiet. If your dog is trying to eat your socks, though, you’ll have to nip this habit in the bud.
If Your Dog Is Unhappy
If your dog is hiding your socks because he’s unhappy, you will need to address his unhappiness first. By doing so, you’ll probably find the sock-hiding sorts itself out.
In cases of boredom or separation anxiety, there are things you can do to help your dog with these conditions before you consider trying to take socks away (see below).
If Your Dog Wants Your Attention
If your dog is seeking your attention, try not to encourage his behavior by running behind him trying to grab the socks.
Your dog will most likely see this as a game and will only run further away joyfully!
If Your Dog Likes The Texture Of Your Socks
If your dog likes the texture of your socks and finds it comforting, it would be cruel to try and stop him from soothing himself in this way.
Better to get new socks and leave him a few that he can keep.
Puppies, in particular, enjoy chewing on soft socks when their adult teeth are coming in.
Adult dogs like the elastic texture of socks, too.
If Your Dog Likes The Smell Of Your Socks
If your dog likes the smell of your socks, it’s likely he’s seeking a form of comfort by carrying them around in his mouth.
They smell like you, so for him he derives security from them.
If Your Dog Tries To Eat Your Socks
If your dog tries to eat your socks, you have a problem on your hands. Pieces of sock can get caught in your dog’s throat which can lead to him choking.
Even if a piece of sock makes its way past the stomach, your dog won’t be able to digest it.
In some cases, pieces of socks can cause a blockage, with sometimes disastrous results.
If you suspect your dog has eaten a piece of sock, look for symptoms of sock swallowing such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal pooping
Call your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten even a small piece of sock.
How Do You Stop A Dog From Hiding Your Socks?
The methods you’ll need to use to stop your dog from hiding your socks depends on the cause of this behavior.
If Your Dog Is Bored
If your dog is bored, you’ll want to address the cause of his unhappiness.
Dogs prefer to be accompanied and kept busy, so you don’t want your dog feeling lonely or bored.
The best remedy for boredom is to provide your dog with enough physical and mental stimulation.
If you give your dog lots of physical exercise, he’ll be more likely to want to sleep when you leave the house.
Speak with your vet or breeder to see how much exercise your dog needs – this can range from 30 minutes twice a day to several hours per day depending on the breed.
In addition to walks, make sure you’re including vigorous games like chasing a ball or frisbee, or encouraging your dog to run full-tilt.
Make sure your daily outings are interesting and aren’t just for the purpose of going to the toilet.
Take different routes so that your dog has new smells to explore.
Your dog’s mind needs a workout, too. Before you leave the house, play some interactive games with your dog, like:
- Hide and seek
- Tug of war (so long as they are not a young puppy).
- Scent games (hiding toys or treats around the house)
Add some puzzle toys to your dog’s toybox.
You can find ones that have squeaky bits hidden inside, or toys with flaps that your dog has to lift up to get at a treat.
Snuffle mats are also excellent: these mats have flaps of fabric where you can hide treats for your dog to sniff out.
Rotate toys frequently to keep your dog interested.
If you’d rather make your own toys, you can try:
- Stuffing peanut butter inside a toilet paper roll. Fold down the ends (and make sure your dog doesn’t eat the paper)
- Rolling up treats inside a paper bag
- Putting treats inside a water bottle with the cap off so that your dog has to toss the bottle around the house to get at the treats
- Placing treats at the bottom of muffin tins with balls placed on top for your dog to move aside
Training is an excellent way to alleviate boredom in a dog. You can start with obedience training and then move on to teaching your dog tricks.
There are many types of classes for dogs, any of which can be fun, such as:
In addition to the training, your dog will benefit from socializing with other dogs.
Note: Look for training classes that offer clicker training – dogs love the excitement that they get when they hear the clicker and know they are doing what’s expected of them.
Jobs Or Hobbies For Dogs
Some dogs love to be given a job to do or a hobby to explore.
Your dog doesn’t have to become a therapy dog – he can benefit from learning to pull a cart, digging out vermin, or herding other animals.
There are many dog sports, too, that you can offer your dog. Some dogs love scent work, whereas others love agility courses.
If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety
If you suspect your dog is hiding your socks because he has separation anxiety, you will want to calm his anxiety first.
The goal is to gradually get your dog used to short timeframes spent apart from you.
Here are some steps to take to try and ease his suffering:
- Come and go calmly. When you enter your house (or when you leave), do so calmly. Don’t make a big deal of it – you can even ignore your dog, as if to say your absence is a small thing. If you must say something, a calm hello or goodbye is enough.
- Leave and come back several times. Teach your dog that when you go, it doesn’t mean you’re abandoning him. Try picking up your keys and walking out the door, only to walk right back in again. Build that up to waiting a few minutes outside the door. Gradually increase the amount of time you are away from your dog.
- Tire out your dog first. Before you leave for any length of time, be sure to have given your dog plenty of mental and physical exercise. The more tired he is, the more happy he’s likely to be and the easier it will be for him to settle down. So play a good game of fetch or go for a run before you go.
- Break up your routine so he doesn’t know what’s coming. Dogs are clever animals and they can pick up on signs that you’re about to leave (coat on, picking up keys, etc.) Try breaking this pattern by picking up your keys and then sitting down to watch a film. Or pick up your coat and then sit down to read a book.
- Have ready a special toy for alone time. Prepare a special treat for your dog that he only gets when you leave the house, such as a peanut butter-filled Kong ball. Be sure to only give your dog this treat when you are leaving home.
- Try taking your dog to a doggie daycare. Some dogs love going to doggy daycare rather than being left on their own – they can make new friends and even learn some new tricks or commands. Dogs are social animals and most would rather spend their days in the company of other dogs rather than at home on a sofa alone. Your dog will grow to love doggy daycare and you may find any anxiety around you leaving the house is a thing of the past!
If Your Dog Id A Scavenger Or He Likes The Texture Or Taste Of Your Socks
If your dog is a scavenger or he likes the texture or taste of your socks, the best thing is to either:
- Let him have some old socks to play with and hide as he likes, or
- Offer him an alternative that he likes even more
Some dogs can be willing to give up socks in exchange for another high-value object such as a stuffed animal, a doggy bone, or another object.
Try several things to see if you can find something he enjoys just as much, if not more, than your socks.
If Your Dog Is A Sock Eater
If your dog likes to try and eat socks, it’s essential you put a stop to this behavior.
Try the following:
- Keep socks and other laundry items locked away safely. Have dirty laundry inside a secure cupboard where your dog can’t get at it
- Offer safe alternatives to your dog. There are many other types of toys that he can enjoy that are dog-friendly. If he enjoys the soft texture of socks, a soft toy might be the place to start. You can always imbue it with your smell so that he’ll recognize it as his
Sock stealing and hiding is actually, as strange as it may seem, pretty normal and common in dogs.
But as you will have learned here today, it’s usually an indicator that something else is going on.
You should find that if you are able to locate and address one of these underlying factors, those socks of yours will remain where they should be.
Or at least, you expect to find them!
Here are some other guides you may want to read:
- Why Does My Dog Take My Socks Off My Feet?
- Why Does My Dog Bring Me Socks? [And What To Do About It]
- Why Does My Dog Hide His Treats? [And What You Should Do]
- Why Does My Dog Take His Treats To Another Room?
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.