Your dog steals like a raven and prefers your shoes and socks? This could be related to your smell that is stuck to your footwear. If your dog eats socks all the time and swallows them, it may be a behavioral disorder. It looks different if your puppy bites your shoes - this often has to do with changing your teeth. More about the reasons for the strange dog behavior:
Socks and shoes smell good for the dog's nose
We humans have a particularly large number of sweat glands on our feet - even if you are not prone to sweaty feet. While we sweat on the feet, we release an individual smell that soaks our socks and shoes with our fragrance. For the human nose it is just an unpleasant smell of foot. For the dog's nose, however, it is an extraordinarily exciting collection of information that is expressed through the special scent.
The smell of their favorite people is particularly interesting for dogs and at the same time pleasantly familiar. Your dog may steal socks and shoes because he wants your scent to be around him. If your things go away, especially when you are not there, your dog may miss you and try to calm yourself down with the familiar scent of your shoes and stockings.
If this behavior gets out of hand, fear of separation can be behind it. In our guides "Dog and separation anxiety: symptoms and causes" and "Overcoming separation anxiety in the dog: How to help him" you will find a few tips.
Lack of toys and boredom can lead to sock theft
If your dog uses the stolen goods primarily for playing and is also prone to destruction, he is probably not underused. If dogs are bored and there is no suitable toy within their reach, they look for a job themselves. Socks not only have an exciting smell, but also a pleasantly soft structure. Shoes are usually provided with laces and tabs that invite you to explore.
Try to see if your four-legged friend's unwanted behavior subsides if you change the dog's walking route more often, incorporate games into the walk and also come up with small intelligence tasks and movement games for your animal friend at home. Maybe that distracts him from "stupid" ideas. If that doesn't work, contact a professional dog trainer.
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Socks and shoes as a prey substitute for hunting dog breeds
Some hunting dog breeds were bred primarily for retrieving. They usually have a well-developed, instinctive bite inhibition and like to carry "prey" through the area. They gently hold the hunted game or their toys in their mouths and carry them to their holder or to a safe place - like the golden retriever in the following video:
If your dog has a fondness for retrieving and carrying around objects, but doesn't have enough toys to live them out, they may grab your socks and shoes. Affected dog breeds include, for example:
● Golden Retriever
● Labrador retriever
● Flat Coated Retriever
● Curly Coated Retriever
● Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
● Chesapeake Bay Retriever
● American Water Spaniel
Dog steals and hoarding shoes & socks? Collect resources as a reason
It is also possible that your dog did not understand that the socks and shoes are your belongings. From then on, he considers them his toys or prey that he is allowed to keep. So that nobody takes away his property, his resources, he hoarded them in a safe place for him. This can be his basket or a certain hiding place.
If your dog shows strong defensive behavior as soon as you approach its sock supply, growls or becomes aggressive, it may be an excessive defense of resources. It is best to have a dog trainer help you to solve the problem.
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Parenting mistakes as the cause of four-legged sock thieves
Sometimes we unconsciously reinforce undesirable behavior in dogs by not communicating rules clearly and consistently enough. For example, if your dog is allowed to play with discarded socks and shoes, he does not understand why he is not allowed to play with all socks and shoes.
If your dog steals your footwear and you scold him, he will get attention. This can have a rewarding effect and cause your four-legged friend to get used to the undesirable behavior. If you try to take your socks or shoes off your dog, they may think it's a drag game. Try whether you can make your dog tasty another toy so that he can leave your things alone.
Young dog bites in shoes? Changing teeth is the order of the day
Remember that a puppy should already learn what it is allowed to do and what not. If your young dog chews on your shoes and socks, it will likely be difficult for you to change your teeth. If the milk teeth fall out and the permanent teeth grow back, this irritates the gums. By chewing, the dogs massage the gums, which relieves the pain. Give your puppy suitable chew toys and chew bones - there they can let off steam and learn that they must not bite on your clothes.
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Dog swallowed socks? Off to the vet!
Does your dog eat socks all the time? This can be due to a behavioral disorder called pica syndrome. It also occurs in humans and cats. Affected people eat all kinds of things that are not suitable for consumption. It is best to have your dog examined by the veterinarian and animal psychologist to resolve the problem before swallowing a sock.
Depending on how big your dog is and how big the sock he swallowed was, this can go off lightly. With luck, he simply digests the stocking and he comes out of it naturally. But you shouldn't rely on this luck, especially with small dog breeds and puppies - here you should go to the vet immediately. For example, it can cause vomiting so that your dog ejects the sock again. If the incident occurred more than an hour ago, usually only an emergency operation helps to prevent an intestinal obstruction.
With large dogs you can watch your four-legged friend first. If he behaves normally, eats as usual and looks happy and cheerful, you can first wait and see whether he can remove the sock again. The following symptoms are suspected of a life-threatening bowel obstruction and you should see a veterinarian immediately:
● Loss of appetite
● listlessness, lethargy
● abdominal pain
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