6 Reasons Why Does My Dog Eat My Underwear
Noticed your underwear disappearing from the laundry room. The culprit is none other than your hairy roommate.
What would you like to do?
“I've probably lost several hundred dollars worth of clothing over the years to this obsession of hers”.
Having to buy underwear frequently is an annoyance. But the more serious is if the dog eats underwear items causing internal blockages. The result is a pricey and life-threatening trip to the vet.
So, why does your dog eat your underwear? Let’s talk about this, first!
Then I will show you step by step guide on “How To Stop Dogs From Eating Underwear”.
Let’s get started!
Why does my dog eat my underwear?
Dogs have a series of odd behavior humans unknown from chasing their tails to sniffing each other’s butt.
And eating underwear, or non-food items that are soft, smelly, and stretchy (hats, bras, undies, etc.) is one of the most common behaviors anyone who owns a dog probably meets.
There is a variety of motivations that can lead to this dog's odd behavior. A few of the most common triggers your furry will chew up your dirty underwear include the owner’s scent on these clothes.
Another compelling reason is these non-food items are easy-to-chew objects and dogs instinctively love to chew on things.
Now, take a closer look at this behavior “why does your furry do it?”. Here are some of the most common reasons.
Are you adopting a puppy under a year old?
“I have pulled out many tube socks from dog intestines. Puppies are definitely a common culprit, and they can occur in any breed. However, Labradors tend to be the most over-representative breed,” Dr. Elizabeth Maxwell – a Clinical Assistant Professor says.
Puppies experience teething twice before they are one year old and normally will last until your pup is 6 to 8 months.
The first teething period begins to appear around 2-3 weeks of age. Pet parents may not witness a newborn puppy’s first teeth. Because many puppies are adopted between 8-to-10 weeks old after weaning from their mother.
Excessive chewing behavior is an obvious sign your fur baby go through the teething phase. Your fur family member will want to chew on anything to soothe aching gum and relieve uncomfortable during teething – underwear is no exception.
You also observe the other teething common symptoms including blood on toys (don’t freak out it’s normal), increased drooling, eating slowly, running a low fever, and red and/or swollen gums.
You can consider specially-designed teething toys which are durable, engaging, and freezable that help the dog massage and soothe irritated gums.
They Could Be Exhibiting “Pica”
Eating underwear or non-food items are able to a form of the canine compulsory disorder called pica – although rarely. While some dogs may only eat one type of particular object, others will chew and/or eat anything, especially items that carry the owner’s scent.
Stress and anxiety are supposedly common triggers that cause obsessive ingestion of objects with non-nutritional value.
If your dog is excessively focused on eating underwear - It’s a sign of PICA. When this issue lasts and your dog only eats dirty things, it easily leads to nutrition deficiency.
Consultation with an animal behaviorist or vet can help you define the root cause of your dog’s nervous tick and develop a proper treatment plan.
But, remember that dogs chewing is also a natural part of their behavior.
Your dog is chewing non-edible items like shock, underwear, or the TV remote control. The reason is probably that he doesn’t find a better way to meet his needs. There's always more you can do to stop this weird behavior which will discuss in section 3 “How to stop dog eating underwear”
It’s no surprise when it comes to dogs smelling far better than any human ever could. So, your dog can identify his favorite human by sniffing your unique natural scent – without seeing.
When you come back home after a busy work day. Have you noticed that your furry friend often greets you with a nose to the crotch?
Humans have active sweat glands in that region which produce pheromones and other scents. Underwear can get the strongest marker of their owner’s odor after wearing them all day. Which is like an addictive perfume to your pooch.
When you are not home, your furry misses you, and also wants to be near you. Being close to your scent is like seeing a familiar face. Socks or any piece of clothes full of your scent, of course, attract your dog’s attention and this can sometimes be paired with another dog's habit of chewing.
Boredom or seeking attention
Boredom might be the culprit of your dog’s problematic chewing behavior. Dogs get bored easily. While you are at work, most of the day, your dog does not do much at all. You should keep track of the times of day your dog chews the most.
If you notice almost time when he’s been home or alone for a while, your dog starts destructively chewing. That’s right, they want to tell you that:
“Hooman, I am so bored! Please pay me more attention”.
Especially, If you’ve got a young or energetic dog like Border Collie, Labrador Retriever, etc.
Love and Protection
Dogs and humans share a unique bonding for at least 15,000 years ago. It goes without saying how much your furry friend loves you.
Dogs in wildlife used to face many enemies so they establish a primal instinct which is to roll in the smelly stuff. In this way, they easily cover up their own scent to hide from prey or other predators.
This sound crazy, but your dog eats your panties probably to protect you from unwarranted visitors.
Inadequate Physical Activity
Some dogs do fine with a daily short walk exercise. Others need a lot of physical activities routine. Working Dog breeds have a particularly high need for exercise. Although other factors also need to be considered, such as energy levels, age, health, and personality.
If your dog isn’t getting enough physical exercise, it will release its bottled-up energy in undesirable ways including destructive chewing behavior. And the most likely victim is your underwear, hats, bras, or ANYTHING you carelessly left on the floor.
The Risks of Underwear Chewing
“My dog ate the fabric and elastic which led to his digestive system being all fucked up. He was ok in the end but he needed surgery to get it removed and it was very expensive”. Brandy Parker - Hooman of the Labrador shared.
Fabric can NOT be ingested in the stomach. If your dog eats underwear, this can lead to an interstitial blockage that is a risk to your dog's health. The dog itself can throw up all or part of the underwear that he has eaten. The vet said large dogs can sometimes poop it out.
But you should monitor your dog closely to make sure that no loose threads or fabric are still trapped in his gastrointestinal tract, causing the obstruction.
Obstruction can make your dog’s stomach become painful and bloated. There are some of the common signs to have care include vomiting, loss of appetite, nausea, lethargy, and changes in bowel movements.
This is important to note that a dog can die within 3-4 days of complete obstruction. Call your veterinarian immediately as soon as you suspect your dog may have ingested.
As I mentioned before, chewing is a natural behavior in dogs. However, You will NOT want your dog ingesting unsafe items such as underwear, sock, bras, or whatever is laying on the floor.
So, how to prevent your dog from eating underwear? Let’s dive on!
How To Stop Dogs From Eating Underwear
While there are lots of tips you can use to limit your fur underwear thief by a couple of days – keeping clothes off the floor is the easiest. However, your furry still keeps up this weird habit whenever she gets the chance. Therefore, the most critical and straightforward aspect is executing good management strategies.
“When I first got Indy, he would go after my panties. He only chewed up a pair but that was enough to teach me not to leave ANYTHING on the floor that I didn't want to eat”.
Not only put your underwear where your dog can't reach them but remove their access to these dirty laundry baskets on the floor.
Keep bathroom doors closed and use the waste baskets that close. Your bedroom door should shut, as well. You may need to put your laundry basket in the closet or laundry room and keep the door shut. Using a taller laundry basket with a lid can be a good solution
Always, punishment is NOT an effective strategy. Holding stuff up and trying to shame her won't work. She'll understand that you are angry, but she will not understand why. Which causes a various range of side effects such as fear, anxiety, frustration, or aggression.
Instead, train your dog to leave inappropriate items on command. You can try a solid “leave it” or “drop it” command to stop your dog the moment you find him trying to eat non-edible items. And don’t forget to reward him with his favorite treat for the right behavior. Be patient and keep it consistent, your dog will quickly learn that following this command will result in them getting something better.
Games, Puzzles, and Walks
On the slip side, many underwear chewers are bored if they are left alone all day. It is essential to provide them with mind and body exercise. Which makes them busy during the day and forget their attention on underwear.
If choosing a treat puzzle is tricky, firstly, try classic KONG which helps satisfy dogs' instinctual needs.
As mentioned earlier, some dogs require more physical activities than others Several daily short walks is not able to insufficient for high-energy breeds in normal health condition, such as Border Collies and Belgian Malinois.
The next time dog park trip, give your dog a long time to play together with some engaging activities such as fetch or hide-and-seek.
Hopefully, this information will provide you with in-depth insights and some helpful ideas to handle if your dog won’t stop eating underwear.
In most cases, the thieves who stole panties are puppies in the teething phase. For some dogs, this is a sign of problematic chewing behavior, you should better get in contact with your dog's behaviorist.
Now, it’s your turn! Let us know where is the problem with your dog and which measure you have taken. We would love to hear about your experience.