You are trying to do your dirty laundry on your day off and you find your dog lying on top of your clothes pile. This is a common place to find some dogs sleeping. People often wonder what it is about their dirty laundry that interests their dogs so much? Is it the smell? Or maybe it’s just a comfy spot to lie on? Or maybe there is some emotional type of attachment going on with your dog? Whatever the reason is for this peculiar behavior, it can absolutely be an annoyance when you are trying to get some housework done.
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The Root of the Behavior
It never fails that whenever you are doing your laundry, your dog is lying on top of the dirty clothes pile or even worse, you just pulled the clean clothes all out of the dryer and your dog jumps up on the couch to lay on them. Just what you wanted. Freshly cleaned clothes with dog hair on it. The root cause of this weird behavior stems from a few things. The biggest reason for this behavior is scent. A dog’s scent is one of his strongest senses. He can distinctly smell your scent on the clothes whether they are clean or dirty. Or in other words, what your dog discerns as the ‘pack scent.’ You see, dogs have instincts that remind them of their ancestors in the wild. Their pack (or now your family) has a distinct smell. This smell is the scent of belonging or family. You may also exhibit your dog rolling on your bed, clothes, or sheets from time to time. This is because he is trying to redistribute that ‘pack’ or family smell back onto himself. Your scent is also a feeling of safety for you pet.
Another cause of this behavior may be due to your pup loving soft things. Clothes, whether dirty or clean, give your dog a soft, cushiony spot to lay down on. The softness coupled with your scent is the perfect reassuring atmosphere for your dog. You may have also noticed that when you leave your house, your dog may lay on your clothes or steal clothes items and put them in different places. This is because he misses you. It can also be because your dog has some separation anxiety. This behavior may be annoying but your dog only does it out of love and respect for his ‘pack.’
Encouraging the Behavior
First, there are a few simple things that you can do to stop this from becoming a bad habit with your dog. Keep all of your dirty laundry picked up and in a hamper with a lid. Also, when folding your clean laundry, keep your dog out of that room and put your clothes away right away. If you cannot do those two things, you might have to revisit the command ‘leave it’ with your pup. Teach him to leave the clothes alone. Not only that, give your dog a piece of blanket that is his own blankie. When he wants to lay on your clothes, ask him where his blankie is and to go get it. This serves two purposes. It gives your dog something with his ‘pack’ smell on it that is special to him, and it will help with any separation anxiety. In addition, it will help discourage your pup from laying on your clothes. You may have to reinforce this with your dog many times before he starts to understand not to lay on your clothes. Be patient with your dog. It’s not always easy to break habits that are based on instinct and scents. But don’t let it discourage you, it can be done.
Other Solutions and Considerations
If these behaviors are based on your dog having separation anxiety, you may want to find a way to ease your dog’s anxiety. You can ease this anxiety issue by spending more time training your dog, crate training your dog, and even changing up your routine a little. Your dogs behaviors won’t necessarily change unless yours do. Your dog having his own blankie or something with your scent on it will help with that. With new puppies, having something that has his mother’s smell on it has been known to ease separation anxiety and the fear of a new place.
Scent is a powerful tool that dogs use to know they are home, they are safe, and they are with their pack. Your dog laying on your clothes can be a nuisance but know they do it out of love. You can redirect this behavior with a little training and a lot of love.