Home > Dog Behavior, Health Care - Dogs > Dogs Eating Underwear

Dogs Eating Underwear

February 23, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Just recently, I met up with a friend, who during the course of our conversation, told me that his dog had been eating his underwear. I think he was slightly embarrassed by the whole thing, but honestly there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Actually it’s not even that uncommon. In fact, dogs eating underwear, socks, nylons, etc. is such a common problem that if you Google “dogs eating underwear” you will find thousands of results. It appears that many of us have had to deal with this issue at some point in our lives.

As a pet sitter and dog walker, I’ve been asked about this issue numerous times; not only by clients, but also by friends and family.
Most people want to know why… and then they want to know what to do about it. The “why” is a matter of debate. Answers range from lack of exercise (i.e., boredom) to seperation anxiety to a desire to feel closer to us. I even saw a Wiki post claiming that it was because the dog did not see the owner as the “alpha dog” (my personal thought on that one is “utter nonsense”)! Not everything a dog does can be related to dominance or your “alpha dog” status (that in itself is another whole topic to be explored at another time).

Let’s face it. Dogs are notorious for eating pretty much anything they can get their teeth on. I even saw one blog post claiming their dog had eaten their Wii remote! Sounds funny right? The reality is that this can be a very serious problem. I personally know of one dog that died after eating his owner’s nylons and another that died (just recently) after eating a sock.

Dogs eat things for a variety of reasons. I like to equate dogs eating underwear with their penchant for rolling in poop or rolling around in a spot where a dead animal once laid. Simply put, they like the smell. It appeals to them. It is my personal belief that dogs eat underwear (and socks) because they like the smell, perhaps because the item carries the scent of the owner, but maybe not. The truth is…only the dogs knows for sure.

So here are some things you can do to prevent your dog from eating your underwear:
1. Pick up your clothes (especially underwear, socks, and nylons) – don’t leave them out for your dog to find.
2. Store clothes in a hamper that has a tight lid or is stored in a closet where you can shut the door. The idea is to prevent them from having access.
3. Teach your dog the commands “leave it” and “drop it” – that way if you catch your dog stealing your underwear you can retrieve the item without a whole lot of damage
4. Consider kenneling your dog when you are not home or placing him or her in a “dog-proof” room away from these items.

The reality is your dog is going to find these items if given access to them. There is no spray or “cure” for the dog who likes to eat your underwear or socks. The best thing you can do (in addition to limiting access) is to teach him commands that will allow you to have more control over the situation. You have to be the protector of your own dog. After all, they can’t do it for themselves.

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  1. February 24, 2009 at 2:49 AM

    I laughed while reading your blog. I live with 2 dogs totaling 230lbs and if I let them they will eat pretty much anything they want. One of them used to open the kitchen cabinets and eat all day while I was at work! After this same dog ate the sleves off my leather coat I became dilligent about keeping things put away for their safety and my sanity.

    • Mel
      February 24, 2009 at 1:19 PM

      Lorraine – I laughed out loud when you said they ate the sleeves off your leather coat. How did they ever do that? Yikes! I am assuming everything turned out okay on that one.
      I also love your description of one of your dogs just taking whatever he or she wanted out of the cabinets. I am now dying of curiosity – what kind of dogs do you have? They sound like they are pretty big.

  2. Disspelled
    August 16, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Thank you. I thought I was the only one with a dog who had an underwear fetish. I have three dogs but only the one goes after the underwear and socks. The Hamper thing works great. And as for eating things, one of my other dogs (when we first got her from a no kill shelter) took it upon herself to eat my remote to my very expensive TV. I understood she was still new to the environment so with a little time and understanding she stopped eating everything. List of things she ate: TV Remote, cell phone, shoes, socks, paper towels (unused), a laser pointer, many toy action figures, several pieces of mail and the list goes on.

    Thanks again for the blog.

    • Mel
      August 16, 2012 at 10:52 PM

      Nope! Not by a long shot. In fact, it’s one of my top blog posts. It still continues to get hits and I wrote it several years ago. You are definitely not alone.
      I almost died when I read you list of the items your dog consumed. Holy cow! How did she survive puppyhood?

  3. Stacy
    February 13, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    I am the owner of a female Terrier who is 5 years old. She has been eating the crotch out of mine and my three daughters’ pants, bathing suits, underwear for years now. We never catch her to scold her. I am scared she will have a blockage and need surgery. Plus, I am highly irritated by how much her bad habit is costing us. Just recently realized that she pulls the clothes through the holes in the hamper because she ruins clothes that were not laying around as well as ones that were. I have never had a dog that did this before. I wish there was a way to break her of it for everyone’s sake.

    • Mel
      February 14, 2013 at 10:15 PM

      Hi Stacy

      How frustrating. Have you tried Bitter Apple? I had to use it with Jasper when he was younger because he would shred my living room rugs all of the time. I had the same fears you did about him ingesting it. You and the girls could spray bitter apple on your underclothes before throwing them in the hamper. I suspect it wouldn’t have to be long, just long enough to deter her. It’s worth a try!

  4. Nate
    February 27, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    I think you’re utterly wrong. Why? Because our dog used to exhibit this behavior and actually DUG THROUGH THE HAMPER to fish out underwear. He one day all of a sudden stopped. We don’t know what caused this or why, but he did. We could leave him home alone with dirty laundry all over the place and he wouldn’t chew anything. Fast forward 6 years, we have another dog and what happens? He just recently started exhibiting this behavior again starting tonight. The drop it command works, but that still doesn’t prevent anything from happening.

    You explanations are completely contradictory to everything we’ve experienced. It’s not the dog having access to it, it’s the fact that the dog wants it and will get it if they want it bad enough. Keeping things away from the animal doesn’t fix the problem, it just band-aid’s it just like the “drop it” command. If you could say the same thing to your dog pooping in the house, it doesn’t fix anything if he already started pooping and stops mid-poop; he still thinks it’s ok to poop in the house unless you tell him to stop. Nothing was solved.

    What’s the solution? I don’t know, but spraying something until he starts to think you sprayed something so he doesn’t touch it isn’t the answer either. That too is just tricking the dog for a certain amount of time until he finds out you haven’t been spraying it and the behavior starts all over again.

    • Jim
      August 8, 2014 at 1:43 PM

      But… not having access takes away the concern that the dog might choke, get a blockage, etc. I think you missed Mel’s point. I accept my dog’s behavior for what it is. She just needs a little help from me to keep her safe.

  5. Brian
    August 4, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    I’m a truck driver, and I have a shitzu. She just started doing this to my underwear. ( I just bought those boxer briefs.) and after reading this article and a few others I think I know why. I haven’t had the chance to get her fixed yet and she is in heat. So I won’t let her sleep on the bed. Apparently for the little spoiled thing, being on the floor two feet away is to far for her.

  6. Emily
    August 14, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Just spent $2600 for the 2nd time on my 1 year old yellow Lab, he digs through the clean or dirty laundry pile and eats the underwear…. this time almost killed him…. i folded the laundry and put the undies in the bottom of the basket with clothes on top… left the room for 10 minutes and he had dug them all out and ate 3 pair…. threw up 2 of them and the 3rd had to be surgically removed… very infuriating…. he goes in phases he will do it for a while and then stop and then start up again a couple mo later…. needless to say all bedrooms and bathrooms are now off limits and we are going to have to keep him penned his room when we aren’t right there to watch him he is trained very well just like to swallow undies whole… no chewing just gulp them down as fast as he can!

    • Mel
      August 16, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      Ugh. How frustrating and how scary Emily. I have known several dogs who have lost their life after eating pantyhose and underwear. It was something I worried about with my Lab because I have heard so many stories. I feel lucky she does not do that. At least you know what top do to address it – barriers and managing what he has access to for now. I hope he outgrows it with time. Good luck!

  7. Sick and Tire of This
    August 16, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    Very, very frustrated with my dog right now. I had been sorting laundry and had a basket on my bed waiting for the washer to be done. Took the kids to school and come home to find that my dog, once again as gotten into the laundry and destroyed another pair of panties with few other pairs out of the hamper on my bed. She is no where to be found. I found her hiding outside at the corner of the yard. She nows she will get in trouble and yet she still does it. I do not believe that dogs don’t remember. My dog does.

    I’m so sick and tired of this, I’m ready to get rid of her. She just got herself permanently kicked out of the house.

    • Mel
      August 16, 2013 at 9:59 PM

      I deleted my first response because to be honest, your comment made me angry. But I can hear your frustration in your words and I know you were probably just blowing off steam. The reality is many dogs will eat the underwear of the person they love because it has their scent on it. It may not always be the case, but if often is one of the reasons. The fact that she ate your underwear tells me she likes the smell. It appeals to her because she likes it. She likes you.

      The only real solution is to either 1) keep laundry out of reach unless you are there, or 2) keep her in a confined area in the house when you are doing laundry. Dogs are not vindictive, they do what feels good (like us), and because they have a stronger sense of smell than us they often go for what smells good (e.g., underwear).

      It concerns me that she was already hiding when you got home. And, it concerns me that you would consider leaving her outside permanently because you are angry at her. I hope that you won’t. But if you are that frustrated and you aren’t willing to tackle how to really work with your dog, I would consider getting her into a rescue where she can be found a loving home who can work with her. Craigslist would be a death sentence as would a shelter.

      I wish you luck.

    • over it
      August 26, 2013 at 9:30 PM

      Oh boy, can I ever relate to this. I’m over it. 4 and a half years of over it. Just lost another 2 pair tonight. I’m pretty sure thete isn’t an industrial enough hamper to keep my dog out of my panties…but on the off chance there is, can someone tell me where to buy a steele reinforced hamper? The ONLY reason this dog has not been given away is because my kids would hate me. Personally I’d love to never see him again!

  8. Stumped
    November 9, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    I have a small dog And I’ve tried so many things to get her to stop this bad habbit. She is not even 10 inches tall. I got a hamper for bedroom and bathroom that is about 3 feet tall that has no holes. One that is solid and has a laundry bg inside almost like a trash bag. But she still manages to knock it over while we are sleeping and chews up every single pair. But for a long time shrews only doing it with my thongs now it’s all panties. She’s never even attempted to mess with my fiancée boxers though? Idk what else to do??

  9. Lenetia Blanton
    December 29, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    I have a new dog my son brought him to me..my son said I need a companion and I’ve been talking bout I wanted a dog …lol ok I got one but the problem is she don’t eat them she laying on them …I’m a biker so I gave her my torn up biker jeans she lays on that but some how grabs a pair of my expenses pair of my underwear geesh…

  10. Kathy
    January 6, 2014 at 9:50 PM

    My Tibetan is going to be 10 this year. She started with my underwear. Graduated to my husbands. And now is eating my modell fabric nightgowns. Last week she ate two 5″ circles out of a nightgown. Besides being costly I’m concerned about all this fabric causing her health issues. We got a new hamper that has 4 bag compartments which has helped. Tonight I had a trash bag hanging on my walkin closet door which she used to open the door and gain entry and ate some more nightgown. Very frustrated. BUT STILL LOVE HER

  11. January 24, 2014 at 5:53 AM

    I even saw one blog post claiming their dog had eaten their Wii remote!

  12. July 20, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    my 6 year old Jack Russell female will not leave my underwear alone (I’m a 40 year old female). she doesn’t bother with my husband’s or my 3 kids (2 teen boys and 1 teen girl). I’m thinking the bitter apple might work. I will try this! I have spent so much money replacing underwear. Urgh!!

    • Tara Garner Pasco
      February 26, 2015 at 12:55 AM

      I joke that Victoria’s Secret should send my dog a commission check because he’s eaten the crotch out of at least 100 pr of panties between me and my teenage daughter. No lie. Lol he usually just rips them apart and he’s done. But today I found where he’d thrown up a whole pair!

  13. Debbi
    July 25, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    Left for my morning walk, with a basket of dirty laundry on the hearth to put in when I got home…..came home to clothes everywhere….and of course, no crotch in either pair of workout pants or either pair of my PJ bottoms. She ran outside the minute I walked in the door, cuz she knew I would be angry! While we try to keep things picked up and in closed hampers, she seems to always be there when we forget. Going through the clothes basket is new. I think it is like an addiction, since she hadn’t had any in a while, she would to anything to get her crotch fix! I am really frustrated with the amount of $$ we have lost over the years, and she has progressed from panties, to PJ bottoms (both mine and my husbands), work out pants, the armpits out of my husband’s t shirts, along with his underwear at times, most recently jeans and shorts. This boxer is 8+ years old, don’t think she is ever going to stop!
    We won’t get rid of her, cuz in all other aspects she is a great dog, but boy, she has me so frustrated right now, that I will not talk to her before I leave for work!!

  14. Tara Garner Pasco
    February 26, 2015 at 12:45 AM

    Before I left for work this morning, I noticed that my puppy threw up some of his food, just little spots. He’s a 7 month old sheltie with a very hearty appetite. He’s food obsessed! So I thought he’d probably just eaten too fast. But when I got home hours later, I found a pair of panties mixed with food and (yuck!) whatever else laid out on the rug in my den. He is also panty obsessed! I’ve found parts of pink and green in his poo before that were clearly parts of my daughters panties. I keep them off the floor as much as humanly possible but he digs and pulls them out of laundry baskets and somehow finds them from who knows where. At first I just thought It was gross but after thinking about the size of what he’d choked up , I’m concerned about him choking to death and wondering how close he came when he was alone today throwing them up. Now I’m wondering if it was 2 pr he threw up since we don’t own any granny panties in our house. Ha, but seriously, should I take him to the vet for an x-ray? He seems a little bloated and he’s a little less active tonight than usual. Should I be concerned? I kinda am. 😕

    • Tara Garner Pasco
      February 26, 2015 at 12:49 AM

      I should add that typically I catch him or find a crotcless pair of panties lying on the floor so it never occurred to me that he would swallow an entire pair. He usually tears up socks and panties but I’ve never known him to eat the whole thing. Now , I’m wondering how many more pairs he might have in his tummy and I hate the thought of him throwing them up when I’m not home and possibly choking to death or becoming blocked.

    • Mel
      February 27, 2015 at 8:16 AM

      Tara – I would be be concerned. Yes. I would take him to your vet. I think knowing if there is a blockage is vital. I have known dogs who have died after eating pantyhose and socks that got stuck.

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