If you have ever owned a dog you’ve probably experienced your pup laying on your clothes—clean or dirty. It happens all the time and some dogs will seek out your clothes piles more than others. The worst is when you set down a clean pile of laundry ready to be folded and your dog decides to take a nap in the pile before you can get them off the floor. I have also heard of dogs peeing on piles of laundry. The question is…why? Why do they do this? What makes a pile of clothes so attractive? Why do some prefer dirty clothes? Why do they pee on them? Why, why why?
- A big pile of clothes is comfortable
Think about it from your dog’s point of view. He or she has been laying on the ground all day, possibly even hard wood floors, and then a magical mound of soft, dry, warm clothes presents itself. Wouldn’t you want to jump right in? It’s like kids with piles of leaves, they just can’t resist. Even better is when there’s a fleece sweater or wool. Your clothes might just be the most comfortable option available at the time. So, if your dog isn’t constantly seeking out the laundry pile but happens to occasionally lay on it, it’s probably purely a comfort thing.
- Your dirty clothes smell like you
Believe it or not your dog jumping on your dirty clothes is, in a way, a compliment. They like your smell! Your dog loves you and a dog’s sense of smell is 40 times greater than a humans. 40 times! Sometimes they just want to be near you and if you aren’t physically there your dirty clothes are a close second. A close relative of ours had a pug that would spend most of the day in the laundry room laying on the dirty clothes—and always the dirty ones. The close were 1. Comfortable and 2. Had a familiar smell. That dog also had a thing for underwear but that’s a different topic that we won’t cover today.
- Even your clean clothes smell like you
We may think our laundry detergent, softener, dryer sheet, etc. gets out all the smell from our clothes but believe it or not even your clean clothes carry your scent. This doesn’t mean they stink or that you and I could smell it but, as mentioned above, a dog’s nose is 40 times better than ours. A clean pile of laundry can still be a security blanket to your pup. They might even drag a clean shirt or two into their bed at night to feel like you’re there with them.
Your dog may also pee on your clean clothes. While they can smell your scent, they can also smell the detergent and anything else you add to make your clothes smell ‘good’. Some dogs don’t like this and they may pee on your clothes to mark their territory or to simply let you know they oppose the scent they’re smelling. That flowery meadow scent you added can be intimidating to your pup, almost like competition because it’s covering your scent.
- Dogs can get separation anxiety
Wanting to be close to you, looking for your scent, peeing on your clean clothes, all of this can be related to separation anxiety. Dogs can suffer from anxiety just like humans and just like humans it can manifest itself more if you and your dog are rarely separated. Think of an only child who is best friends with his or her mother for 18 years and then goes away to college. It’s hard to adjust. The same is true if you take your dog everywhere every day and then you go on a two-week vacation. It’s hard for them to handle. The first time we left Basil, our English Bulldog, at a kennel she vomited for the first three days. She couldn’t handle it. We eventually had to have people stay at our house to watch her so she could be around our scent and familiar things.
Makes sense but what if I don’t want my dog peeing on my clothes?
If the problem is just that your dog lays on your clean or dirty clothes and it’s annoying…don’t leave your clothes on the ground. Or shut the laundry room door, etc. It sounds simple and it is. Dogs will always look for a cozy place to sleep and that might just be your clothes if you leave them out.
Another tip is to get your dog a comfortable bed. If your clothes pile is the most comfortable option, your dog is going to take it. If you think your dogs does have anxiety, get a bed with cushioned sides to provide an added sense of security and make it accessible throughout the day. Over time they’ll realize their bed is always there and reliable.
If it’s more than that, if your dog is peeing on your clothes or seems anxious or has a hard time when you leave there are other things you can do. In most cases, leaving out a shirt or a blanket that you regularly use is enough to calm a dog down. We found that leaving a dirty t-shirt in Basil’s bed when we left worked great. She would burrow into it and keep it close by each day. If the problem is with clean clothes, try a different detergent or scent. Some scents are stronger than others and your dog may just not like it.
And lastly, plan time to be away from your dog each day. This might sound odd or mean but if you’re always around your dog any time apart will be tough. Wean them off you by giving them alone time. Each year when summer starts our kids have a hard time remembering how to have fun on their own. The constant homework, sports, activities, etc. limits their imagination but after a few weeks it all comes back. Dogs are the same. Let them figure out what they enjoy doing on their own. This can greatly improve anxiety because they won’t rely on you for their daily activities.
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