Why do Dogs Love Your Laundry?
Picture this: You come home after a long day at work, ready for the weekend. Your excited pup greets you at the door, tail wagging like crazy, and after much sniffing and licking he's ready for his walk. You spend some time strolling the neighborhood with him, giving him time to do his business and smell everything that catches his interest. When you get back home, you prepare his dinner and head into your bedroom to change. You have plans tonight, so you can't stick around, but that's fine; your dog does well on his own and he has plenty of toys to keep him entertained. You give him a good scratch behind the ears, tell him you'll be back soon, and go out.
When you get back, he greets you at the door again, and all is well. But when you go into your bedroom, there are your dirty work clothes, mashed flat and covered with loose dog hair. He was clearly napping on them for most of the time you were gone. But why? He has a perfectly good bed. Why do dogs love our dirty laundry?
The answer is that dogs view you as part of their family, so your smell is comforting to them. Much as you might look inside your wallet at a photo of a beloved family member, dogs derive reassurance from the scent of their loved ones. Your scent is thickest in your dirty clothes, sheets, and towels, so your dog will gravitate to them. Your dog may also have the habit of using your shoes as a pillow, for the same reason.
Some dogs even go as far as to chew on your underwear or eat your socks. This can have other behavioral reasons, like boredom, but frequently dogs just want to absorb as much of your scent as possible. Still, if your dog is eating clothes, this can lead to serious medical problems and should be addressed. Make sure your dog has plenty of toys and other means of stimulation!
If you want your dog to get quickly attached to a stuffed toy (and leave your socks alone), sleep with the toy for a while to let it pick up your scent. If it's small enough, stick it under your shirt while you exercise or work around the house. Let some of your sweat get on it. It sounds gross, but dogs don't mind— they love it. Similarly, if you're trying to teach your dog to use his bed, toss a used towel or an old shirt in it. The more it smells like you, the better!
Dogs love clean laundry too, for a different reason. Many dogs are known for immediately rolling on freshly-washed laundry that you've laid out to put away. The reason for this is that dogs identify their family mostly through scent. When a dog rolls on clean laundry, he or she may be trying to redistribute their scent to make you identifiable as part of their family. It's a completely natural behavior, so it can be difficult to train out. The best course of action to stop the behavior is to keep your dog out of the room until the laundry is put away.
Five Barking Dogs! has plenty of great stuffed dog toys, super cozy dog beds, and more to keep your dog occupied and provide ways to help your dog access your scent without resorting to lying on your dirty clothes. Get your scent onto the toy as described, and leave something that smells like you in the dog's bed, and you'll help your best buddy feel close to you even when you're not home.