Our pets are full of curious behaviors. Every day, they delight, frustrate, and fill our hearts with love. Whether they’re chasing pigeons, stealing treats from the countertop, or covering the kitchen floor with mud, they’re always fascinating. As our closest and dearest pals, dogs have a unique ability to enthrall us.
If you’ve lost count of the times you’ve muttered ‘what on earth are you doing’ at your pet pooch this week, we’re going to try to shed some light on their bizarre behaviors.
Today, we’re focusing on a common canine habit; why some dogs lay on your clothes. It’s not exclusive to dogs – some cats do this too – and you might be surprised at their reasons.
Dogs lay on your clothes because it has your unique scent. They view you as the pack leader and by smelling your scent, it gives them comfort and safety. In addition, the clothes are soft which makes it a perfect place for them to lay on.
The Softest Spot In The House
Picture the scene. You come to collect your dirty clothes from the laundry hamper only to discover Rover has tossed them all over the floor. Now, he’s curled up in dreamland enjoying the cosiest sleep of his life on your favourite jumper. Or worse, you put a basket of freshly laundered clothes in the bedroom. Ten minutes later, you return to find your dog rolling gleefully across every clean shirt and sweater.
It’s far from the most disruptive habit a dog might exhibit, but it can be mighty frustrating. Nobody wants to wash their clothes multiple times in one day. It’s extra annoying if a dog refuses to sleep anywhere but on top of your clothes. This is surprisingly common as is ‘collector’ behavior, the peculiar habit of picking clothes up (socks especially) and moving them to different spots around the house.
If this sounds like your dog, you might be wondering where this habit comes from. What is your pet gaining from doing this? Should you encourage them to stop? If you don’t mind the extra laundry, is there a reason your dog shouldn’t be allowed to do it? We’ll try to answer these questions and more in this article.
Why Dogs Lay On Your Clothes?
5. They Love Your Smell
The first and most obvious reason for this habit is that your dog adores you. It’s really that simple. If you catch the pooch writhing around in clothes you know are pretty grimy, be contented with the knowledge he doesn’t think you’re stinky at all. In fact, he finds you irresistible. The dirtier the clothes, the more they smell like you. And when a dog loves their owner, their unique scent brings happiness, comfort and reassurance.
4. They Want To Be In Your Pack
Canines are deeply social animals. They are pack animals and thrive in hierarchical groups. If a pet dog identifies you as the family’s pack leader, they’ll form a very special attachment to you.
It is an instinctual urge for them to both enjoy smelling your scent and to want to smell like you. In the wild, sharing the scent of the pack leader strengthens social bonds because it identifies members as part of the family. When your dog rolls around gleefully in your underwear, he’s just trying to smell like you. Still weird? Okay, maybe a little.
3. They Don’t Like Their Bed
Cats are notorious for being picky about everything. Dogs tend to be more laidback, but they have their moments. If your dog persistently sleeps on top of your clothes, or on the floor, instead of in an allocated bed or other areas, there may be something off with their sleeping arrangements. Chances are this is something barely noticeable and down to a fussy character rather than the bed being unsuitable.
You may need to rely on a process of elimination to find out what the problem is. Common gripes include not liking the material in a pet bed, being too far away from you, being in a space they dislike, not liking the smell of laundered bedding or just preferring floppy, cloth items to a firmer dog bed. If at all possible, the easiest solution is to move your dog’s bed to the new location they can’t get enough of (like next to your laundry hamper).
2. They Have Separation Anxiety
Just like human beings, dogs come in all kinds of different personalities each with its own characteristic quirks. Some dogs are naturally more anxious than others. They are more skittish, cautious and shy around people. Often, shy dogs form intense attachments to their owners and feel worried when they’re away.
If your dog is quite reserved and you regularly find them snuggled up in your clothes after you’ve been away, they’re probably feeling lonely without you. Some pets find separation difficult. Others take it in their stride. The smell of you brings them comfort. Let’s not forget, our dogs never really know for sure when we’ll come back.
1. They Want Your Attention
Finally, your dog rolling around in your dirty clothes could be their way of getting attention. Maybe they’re feeling playful and they want you to join in. Perhaps they’re bored and need stimulation. Whatever the reason, they know the laundry is a place you visit often. So, what better place to catch your eye and tempt you to play?
They don’t know you’ve got housework to do. They just want to be your main priority for a while. So, it’s up to you whether you give in to the pressure. Giving in can teach your pet patience isn’t necessary. It can also be the start of great fun. We guess it depends on how much laundry there is to get done today.
How To Prevent Unwanted Behaviors
What we will say is you shouldn’t punish a dog for this habit unless they’re always chewing clothes and causing damage. It’s harmless in most cases and, oftentimes, the motivations behind it are healthy ones (such as demonstrating love for your family pack).
The simplest way to solve the problem is to put your clothes somewhere your dog cannot reach them. If they’re a chronic dirty laundry sniffer, make sure clothes go in a basket or hamper in a closed off room.
The only reasons we might discourage this kind of behaviour is if your dog has stopped sleeping in their own bed altogether or they are demonstrating excessive anxiety. We discussed ways to solve issues with bedding in the previous paragraph. You can move the bed, try a different bed or get rid of the bed and use blankets if your dog persistently sleeps on the ground (some dogs just prefer it).
Separation anxiety is a bit trickier to solve. Any changes in behaviour may take a while to appear even if a pet’s routines are changed. Some strategies to try are exercising your dog before you leave the house. This increases the likelihood they’ll simply sleep through your absence and barely notice you’re gone. You might also dispense with intense goodbyes.
Many of us instinctually lavish our pets with love even if we’re just going out to work or the supermarket. You know it’s a temporary absence. Your dog doesn’t. For some canines, exaggerated goodbyes cause anxiety because they draw attention to the event of your departure. If you make it feel like a big deal, they’ll wonder if it is a big deal. Next time, try leaving without kisses and fanfare. You are coming back after all.
Why Your Laundry Is A Love Letter
When it comes down to it, all of these motivations are based on love. Whether feeling silly, anxious, or familial, your dog just wants to be close to you. Yes, it’s annoying. Yes, they’ll choose the most inopportune time to drag your dirty bra across the kitchen. Would you have it any other way though? We say, enjoy your pooch while you’ve got him even if he’s totally addicted to love…or your favorite socks.