Many Puppy Owners have thought it: “How do I stop my puppy from stealing socks?” Maybe it was cute at first. Your adorable little pupper hopped on the bed as you started folding a fresh load of laundry and made off with a single sock.
But now you find yourself on the world’s worst treasure hunt every time you need to leave the house! What’s more, you may be tired of having that awkward conversation with your local Puppy Sitter to warn them to watch their own socks and undergarments.
So, why do our little fluffers do it? And more importantly, how can they be stopped? As it turns out, sock stealing is a common puppy behaviour, with some fairly straightforward remedies.
Here’s your guide to winning the battle for socks!
Why does my puppy steal socks in the first place?
It’s an odd behaviour, no? Your pupper has an entire basket of toys specifically designed for doggos, and they’re attracted to boring old socks?
Well, to your puppy, socks are anything but dull!
On the one hand, socks make the perfect chew toy. They’re elastic and chewy, and unlike a larger garment, easily snatched and paraded off like a trophy.
And, although you may not appreciate it, your puppy may see sock stealing as a fun game. Remember, your young pup is still learning the rules of appropriate play. And, as much as they loved to be chased, they may not realise that you’re not in on the game.
There’s something else we should tell you about your clean socks that you may not want to hear: they still stink…to your dog, at least. You may remember from our article, 4 Mind-Blowing Facts about Your Dog’s Senses, that our canines have 2 billion olfactory sensors. That means that even after a good wash, your pup can probably still detect your scent on your clothes. And there’s nothing smellier, and thus more enticing to your dog, than a pair of socks.
How can I stop my puppy from stealing socks?
The reasons why puppers steal socks is fascinating. But, let’s get to the real question: How do I stop my puppy from stealing socks?
Here are a few ideas:
#1: Give your dog a distraction
Many puppies perk up when they see you with an armload of laundry because they know it means something exciting. Instead of hoping that your puppy will behave this time, you can be proactive by bringing out a special toy to distract them. It should be something that they only get when you’re folding laundry, so that they associate this chore with a toy that is way more engaging than a sock.
Remember that part of the allure of socks is smell. So, even though it may seem a bit strange, keep this special toy somewhere that will pick up your scent, like the bottom of the dirty laundry bin or your clothes closet.
#2: Make sure your puppy is getting plenty of mental stimulation during the day
Puppies are constantly looking for mental stimulation. And the truth is, a bored puppy is a destructive one!
Keeping a pup mentally engaged throughout the day will take more than a bucket of dog toys. Training sessions, visits from a local Puppy Sitter, puppy playdates, and interactive playtime with their beloved Owners are just a few ways that you can make sure your puppy isn’t making their own sock-filled fun.
#3: Work on the “drop it” command
Even as you start to incorporate the changes that will draw your puppy away from their sock obsession, there will be a few repeat offenses. So, you’ll want to prioritise teaching your puppy how to drop the sock on command.
This is important for a couple of reasons. The first is obvious: you want your socks back for the sake of your sanity!
But, chewing on socks is also a health risk, especially if you start to notice your socks going missing for good. One Great Dane in the United States underwent a two-hour long surgery to remove 43 (and a half!) socks from his digestive system. And if you ask your local vet about whether they’ve had to deal with socks in stomachs, they’d probably have some stories for you!
Avoid the trip to the vet by keeping an eye on your little one and making sure they will drop the sock on command.
#4: Always reward puppies for good behaviour
Notice a time when your puppy tilts their snout towards your socks without actually picking them up? That’s a great opportunity for you to reward them for good behaviour. You may not have a treat on you at the moment, but an immediate “good dog!” will teach them that they did the right thing. You could, of course, keep some treats within reach during this crucial stage of puppy development.
How long does it take to stop my puppy from stealing socks?
We have good news and bad news, here.
The good news is, your puppy is at the perfect age for learning! With the simple tips that we’ve suggested, you’re likely to see improvement in a matter of days or weeks.
The bad news is, your puppy is still a puppy! It can be tough to keep up with a puppy’s endless energy and stay consistent with training. If you’re not able to implement strict training measures to keep your pupper out of the laundry—or if you have a puppy who falls in the challenging dogs to train category—it could take longer for your pup to kick the sock stealing habit.
However long it takes, don’t give up! Remember that sock eating is a health danger, and you’ll need to address the behaviour until your puppy can be trusted on laundry day.
What should I do if I can’t stop my puppy from stealing socks?
Now, there are some cases in which a dog’s obsession with socks goes beyond a simple puppy quirk. If your dog seems to be eating different kinds of non-edible items, such as rocks, clothes, and plastics, they could be suffering from pica disorder. This kind of eating behaviour is often rooted in anxiety, food scarcity, or certain medical conditions, and should be addressed with the help of a veterinarian.
Your socks can be safe again!
Eventually, your furry friend will make the transition from puppyhood into the doggy teenage years and eventually into a fully grown adult. And while an energetic puppy can be handful, you may someday miss this phase!
If you have other questions along the lines of “how do I stop my puppy from stealing my socks,” “why are puppies so adorable” or “how can I find the best local Puppy Sitter,” we’re happy to help!