Dogs can do unusual things sometimes; occasionally they amaze us with their peculiar, inexplicable behavior, and something like taking an extreme interest in your clothes can be puzzling and possibly even alarming.
Have you ever wondered “why does my dog lick my underwear?” and felt a little nauseous at the idea of what your dog might be consuming – and the state of your underwear afterward? This happens to a lot of pet owners, and it’s not a fun situation to be in.
If your dog is obsessed with washing your underwear and you can’t work out why, you might be worried that it is sick, or that it will get sick. However, dogs often lick both clean and dirty underwear, and on the whole, this is unlikely to do them any major harm; it’s just a common habit that dogs have.
If you don’t want your dog to lick your underwear, you will need to either train it to keep away, or put all underwear in an unreachable spot. You may wish to store underwear in your closet or a chest of drawers, and put used underwear in a sealed hamper that your dog cannot easily access.
Why Does My Dog Lick My Underwear?
Dogs generally lick underwear because they are interested in the smell, and there is a lot of overlap between scent and taste, so licking is a natural step on from smelling.
They will often greet humans by sniffing at their crotches, because humans produce a lot of scent in this area, and it gives the dog valuable information about the human.
Dogs depend heavily on their sense of smell to learn about the world, and your underwear will carry strong traces of your scent.
You may find the dog licking at or even chewing your underwear at times in order to better release and understand the scent.
It is possible that your dog will enjoy the smell and taste (even if that sounds unpleasant to you!) because it is distinctly you, and they will have positive associations with it.
Don’t be surprised if you find your dog licking, sniffing, or even trying to eat your underwear.
Even clean underwear may attract your dog; what smells washed and fresh to you will still have a lingering scent that will appeal to your dog, although probably less distinctly than used underwear.
If your dog is missing you, it’s more likely to seek out things that smell of you in an attempt to reassure itself and feel closer to you.
Because dog packs bond so heavily through scent, this is a logical explanation for the behavior and it is likely to continue unless you teach your dog not to do it.
Is It Normal For Dogs To Lick Underwear?
Yes, it is normal for dogs to lick underwear, both clean and dirty, although by no means all dogs do this.
Some dogs will never touch your underwear, but most will give it at least a sniff if they find it on the floor, and others will get very keen on sniffing and investigating it.
Some dogs may even drag dirty underwear out of a laundry hamper so that they can smell it; they may do this with other clothing too, but because it carries more scent, underwear tends to be a favorite.
Dogs will sometimes even go so far as to eat underwear, because they see it as a valuable resource and do not want other dogs to have access to it.
This is a big concern, as this kind of behavior can lead to intestinal blockages that may require surgery to solve. You should remove underwear if you see that your dog is licking or chewing it, especially if your dog has a habit of eating unsuitable items.
Although many dogs will lick underwear when they find it, actively seeking out underwear (such as dragging it out of a hamper or a washing machine) is slightly more unusual behavior, and you should discourage this.
It is best not to leave underwear lying around when the dog is young, because this may lead to bad habits and a future interest in licking or chewing underwear.
How Can I Stop My Dog Licking My Underwear?
The best way to prevent a dog from licking your underwear is to make the underwear inaccessible at all times, both when it is clean and when it is dirty.
You should keep clean underwear in drawers that your dog cannot access, or in a closed closet that you only open to retrieve clothing. Do not allow the dog to go into the closet.
Often, dogs are most interested in dirty underwear, so don’t discard this on the floor; put it straight in a laundry hamper.
It’s best to choose a hamper with a proper lid so that the dog cannot pull the underwear back out, and one with solid sides to decrease the smell (which will make the dog less interested in the hamper, and therefore less likely to tip it over or damage it).
When washing clothing, make sure that you do not leave underwear in an open machine, but instead load the machine, shut the door, and run the wash immediately.
Hang underwear up out of your dog’s reach if possible, or dry laundry in a room that your dog does not enter, or close the door while laundry is drying.
If you are rigorous about all these steps, your dog should not be able to lick your underwear, and it’s easier to follow these solutions than to try and train your dog out of this habit.
So, the simple answer to “why does my dog lick my underwear?” is that it smells good to them, and they are interested in learning more about your scent. Licking is almost an extension of sniffing, and many dogs will do this to get a better idea about the information contained within your smell. Don’t be surprised if you find your dog licking underwear, especially if it has been worn, but take steps to prevent this in the future.