Behavioral problems

Why Do Dogs Lay on Your Clothes?

Eduarda Piamore
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. May 23, 2024
Why Do Dogs Lay on Your Clothes?

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Dogs seem to have a predilection for sleeping on top of our clothes, something which can be frustrating. Whether it's because it leads to wrinkly sweatshirts or dog hair seemingly infused into the fabric, it is a behavior we may want to discourage. Whether they are clean or dirty clothes, it is a common behavior that many of us do not understand. Despite the possible annoyances, the reasons why dogs sleep on our clothes are not usually anything to worry about. If we really want to avoid this behavior, the solution is simple. Don't leave your clothes out for a dog to lie on them.

At AnimalWised, we find out why do dogs lay on your clothes? Reasons for this behavior include something as simple as comfort, as well as being a sign you have a positive bond with the animal. However, if a dog keeps laying on our clothes, it may also be a sign they are lonely, stressed or have some other issue in the home.

You may also be interested in: My Cat Is Chewing on Clothes
  1. They want to be close to you
  2. They are cold
  3. They are lonely
  4. Boredom or stress
  5. They don't feel safe

They want to be close to you

Guardians that have a strong bond with their dog will often find their canine companion sleeping on top of their clothes. Especially if it dirty laundry, our clothes are infused with our smell. A dog is led by their nose and sleeping on top of our clothes may be a way they can feel close to us when we are not there. It is similar to a dog sleeping on our bed since our bedclothes are equally infused with our smell.

This does not mean our dog is unhygienic. Our worn clothes shouldn't be particularly dirty to a dog who is used to rolling around on the ground or not bathing for long periods. It is simply a way for our dog to search us out and find reassurance when we're not around. Your dog may even steal them from wherever you left them and take them to a nesting area.

What to do if your dog lies on your clothes for comfort

Since this is not necessarily problematic behavior, you may not need to do anything. When a dog sleeps on our clothes to feel close to us, we should let them. They are simply finding a way to be comfortable and we should allow them where possible. It may also be positive for us as it is a way for us to strengthen our bond even when we are not present.

There are some instances when we might want to stop this behavior. The reason could be that the dog has a lot of hair and sheds easily. Another issue is whether they have a health problem such as an infection or a parasitical infestation. For these reasons, we will not want our dog to be so intimate with our belongings. The solution is simple. You should hang up or otherwise stow your clothes so your dog does not have access.

Learn more about proximity and hygiene with our pets in our article asking is it bad to sleep with my dog?

They are cold

Especially if it is a cozy sweater or similar thick garment, your dog might lay on your clothes because they want to be warm. When it is cold, the floor might be chilly or there are few places of warmth. Our clothes can provide a protective layer against the cold substrate. If they have recently been worn, they will also retain some of our body heat, making it even more warming.

This will most likely happen for dog guardians who live in a cold or mild climate. Some dogs may be more sensitive to the cold than others, especially those which have little body fat such as the different types of sighthound breeds. Similarly, puppies, elderly dogs or those with an illness may need more warmth than other canines.

What to do if my dog is too cold

If you want your dog to stop laying on your clothes when it is cold, you will need to provide a warm alternative. Provide a dog bed if they do not already have one. You can purchase specialized beds that have warming pads on them already, but you can also fashion a comfortable bed from old blankets and other materials. You should also ensure your home heating system is able to keep the home at the correct temperature.

For dogs with a sensitivity to cold, you may need to ensure they have their needs appropriately met. In some cases, this may require the use of dog clothes during winter, although the home should never be so cold they need to wear them inside. There are many ways to keep a dog warm, but you will need to be extra careful if they are un well or overly sensitive to cold temperatures.

Why Do Dogs Lay on Your Clothes? - They are cold

They are lonely

We have already stated that a dog will lay on top of your clothes because they want to be close to you. When this is a simpe demonstration of a close bond, it should not provide any problems. However, if the dog keeps sleeping on our clothes and shows anxiety when they are not allowed, it could be a sign of loneliness.

Especially if they are a dog breed known to have separation anxiety, some animals may find it very difficult when we are not around. They may feel secure in our presence, but when we are not around they might become agitated. They can bark out the window, destroy objects or generally be very stressed. These are signs of insecurity and they need to be addressed appropriately.

In some cases, the dog may feel more acutely lonely. For example, if we have just moved home, the dog may be anxious to be in a new place. They may adjust over time on their own, but they may seek extra security by laying down on your clothes.

What to do if my dog is lonely

There is nothing wrong with your dog lying on your clothes to feel welcome or protected when they are afraid or uncomfortable. There is a problem if the dog is so insecure that they need to do so all the time. When they show other symptoms of anxiety such as peeing all over the house, the dog is experiencing acute loneliness which can serious harm their wellbeing.

There is nothing wrong with leaving a dog home alone for a few hours. However, we need to respect the following:

  1. No dog should spend too much time alone, especially while they are still a puppy.
  2. Every dog should learn to stay alone in a progressive way and not be abandoned suddenly.

Instead of leaving the dog alone suddenly, leave for a short time and increase this period incrementally. Ensure they have a comfortable place to rest and plenty of environmental stimulation for dogs.

Socialization of the dog is also necessary. Dogs will also be scared and insecure if they don't understand stimuli in their environment. This requires experience. It is most important to do so while they are a puppy, but you can also socialize adult dogs. If you still do not know the source of your dog's anxiety, you should speak to a canine ethologist for assessment.

Boredom or stress

Dogs may also steal your clothes to lay on them because they are bored. This is not a state of insecurity, but it may also have similar symptoms. Dogs that are understimulated will react in various ways, but behavioral problems are common.

The reason why a bored dog might take your clothes and lay on them is because of your reaction. When a dog does not get enough attention, they will do something they know gets a rise out of their guardians. If you scolded your dog for taking your clothes, they may do it again simply because you will pay them attention, even if it is in a negative way.

Boredom in dogs is due to the dog not being sufficiently stimulated. If you leave a dog a lone for too long, neglect their walks, do not play with them or generally ignore their needs, they will find other ways to entertain themselves. In addition to taking your clothes or sleeping on them, destructive behaviors are common. In this way, they are similar to a child acting out.

Different dogs will have different needs when it comes to stimulation. For example, the Border Collie is a dog breed which needs a lot of training, exercise and education. Without it, they are more likely to develop behavioral problems. If you adopt a dog with a strong training drive, you will need to spend the time educating them otherwise you are not meeting the responsibility of care.

What to do if a dog is bored

Enriching your dog's environment with a variety of toys and sensory stimuli will be your best ally in preventing destructiveness, boredom and stress. It is also highly recommended that you dedicate some time each day to introduce intelligence games to your dog. You will also need to remember the importance of establishing a good routine of at least three daily walks of between 20 and 45 minutes each, although this may depend on the dog.

If you perceive that your dog is very stressed or their character has changed, do not hesitate to consult with a veterinarian. There are some diseases and metabolic disorders that can lead to an increase in stress and even aggression in dogs.

Why Do Dogs Lay on Your Clothes? - Boredom or stress

They don't feel safe

Insecurity can also explain why your dog lies on your clothes. It is not one of the most common causes of this behavior, but we need to be considerate of it. It is also important not to confuse fear with insecurity. Fear is a natural emotion that is essential for the survival of all animals, including dogs. It allows them to be alert and react to situations of imminent danger.

Insecurity in dogs involves the absence or loss of self-confidence, often occurring as a result of systematic or continuous exposure to factors or contexts of fear, stress or isolation. When we talk about an insecure dog, we are not referring to one that has a correct or understandable reason to be fearful. For example, there are dogs which will be fearful during fireworks or a storm. This is a normal reaction and not generalized insecurity.

Canine insecurity is often a result of not having their needs met. Perhaps you do not feed them regularly or enforce a suitable routine for them. Dogs are creatures of habit and need routine to feel secure in their home environment. Similarly, neglecting training, education, exercise, affection, play or anything the dog needs to feel secure can have negative consequences.

What to do if a dog feels unsafe

The first step is to understand why your dog is insecure. The treatment must be aligned with the cause to have the expected effects. Unfortunately, there are several factors that can induce fearful behavior in dogs. It is not always easy to detect them, especially if we are talking about a rescued dog. In these cases, we are usually not aware of their previous experiences and the details of their socialization process.

For this reason, it may be essential to have the support of a veterinary ethologist. Beyond performing the necessary tests to detect health problems, they can evaluate the behavioral signs help to identify the cause. They can then establish compatible behavioral patterns which will ne catered to your dog's individual needs.

To learn more about the causes and treatment of fear and anxiety in dogs, you may want to take a look at our related article which explains why a dog is anxious all of a sudden.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Do Dogs Lay on Your Clothes?, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.

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Why Do Dogs Lay on Your Clothes?