You’re doing stuff around the house, when out of the corner of your eye, you catch your dog sleeping on your clothes. There’s your puppers, all curled up on the pile of dirty clothes on the floor of your bedroom. Why does my dog sleep on my clothes? Is it just a fluffy comfy spot or is it because they want to soak in your scent – all that sweaty, stinky smell that’s YOU?
Your dog sleeps on your clothes because they smell like you. Your scent on your clothes give your dog comfort and make them feel safe. Additionally, they’re putting their scent on you. This is all part of the pack bonding that is hardwired into your dog.
It’s important to know that to your dog, you and the family are their pack. The instinct to be around the scent of the pack is still a strong instinct in dogs from when they were wild. The pack equals a sense of belonging and safety. This is also why your dog may sleep on your belongs, or gather them together, when you aren’t home.
A dog’s sense of smell is quite remarkable and plays a HUGE part in everything they do in life. If you want to learn more about a dog’s sense of smell and their other senses, check out my post on “What is a dog’s strongest sense?”
In this article we will look at the following topics:
- Is it ok to let my dog sleep on my clothes?
- Why should I not let my dog sleep on my clothes?
- How to discourage your dog from sleeping on your clothes
Is it ok to let my dog sleep on my clothes?
It is absolutely fine to let your dog sleep on your clothes. In fact, in most cases they want to. It’s their way of showing love and respect for “the pack.”
To me, one of the biggest compliments a dog can give me is to sleep on your clothes. I always viewed it as a way that they say “I love you” or “I accept you”. It reminds me specifically of a great story from not too long ago in my life.
When my wife, Jena and I first started dating, I was about 24 years old, and I had a Golden Retriever named Nakota. I got him as a pup when I was 15 years old. He was an awesome friend that got me through the rollercoaster that makes up those teenage years. I can’t adequately explain in this article just how special he was to me. Nakota followed me everywhere, slept in my room every single night, and comforted me whenever I was upset. He was a remarkable dog. He was my best friend and I was his.
Now Nakota slept on my clothes all the time. In fact, he would constantly carry around an article of my clothing. Which was only a problem if I left a pair of underwear around, which he would proceed to retrieve and present as an offering to a visitor. Yes, that happened a couple of times.
Anyhow, the point of all of this is that, while I did date before Jena, Nakota hadn’t really done anything to display deep affection to anyone else. However, about a month into Jena and I’s relationship, Nakota did something I’d never seen him do before. He curled up and slept on Jena’s sweatshirt. This was a big deal because it was if he was putting his stamp of approval on her. She was now part of the pack.
Sadly, Nakota became very sick and he had to be put to sleep a few months later. However, my best friend must have known that she was going to become my wife and he made sure to let me know he approved.
Wow, that story’s always good to give me teary eyes.
Why should I not let my dog sleep on my clothes?
Even though the gesture of a dog sleeping on your clothes may be a sign of respect, I certainly understand how it could be a frustrating behavior. Especially, if your dog insists on doing this on your folded clean clothes.
More than messing up your clothes, there may be some reasons you might be uncomfortable with your dog sleeping on your clothes (I will briefly list a couple reasons here below, but they’re similar to the reasons for concern that I list in my article “Should My Dog Sleep on My Bed?”. Check out that article if you some more information on that topic.)
You may want to keep your dog from sleeping on your clothes if you are concerned about any of the following issues:
- The mess of dog hair on your clothes – Even though your clothes may be dirty, some dogs shed a ton and this may be an unnecessary mess that you don’t want.
- Allergies – dander, hair, or even pollen carried in on your pooch can cause allergies to flare up, especially if you have severe allergies
- Fleas, ticks, and other parasites – your dog could share some unwanted guests. Make sure you are treating against these pests anyhow.
- Infections or diseases – it’s super duper rare, but there is a tiny chance that you could catch something your dog is carrying
- Potential accidents – it is not unheard of for dogs to add their scent in that manner
How to discourage your dog from sleeping on your clothes
So maybe as cute as the gesture is that your four legged kid wants to sleep on your clothes, it’s just not for you. No worries! There are some things you can do to discourage the behavior.
First of all, keep all your laundry picked up and inaccessible to your fellow pack mate. You may also want to consider investing in a hamper with a lid – if you don’t have one already. Additionally, be sure to put away any clean and folded clothes immediately.
Secondly, put your training hat back on. You may need to teach or revisit the command to “leave it”. This is the universal dog training command to leave an item alone. This works on more than just clothes, so it is a good command to master anyhow.
Third, find an old shirt, old towel, or even a blanket for your pup to claim as his security blanket. This gives the dog a safe object to have the pack scent on to feel calm and secure. This helps a lot with anxiety.
When we first had Juno, we kept a toy and blanket that had the scent of my aunt’s dog, Molly, on it. Molly kept Juno company the first night away from her mom and siblings. This helped Juno transition to our family and minimized her anxiety. Even to this day, Juno carries it around with her.
Your dog’s desire to sleep on your clothes is deeply instinctual. If you let your clothes around it’s going to happen. If you’re cool with your dog sleeping on your clothes then don’t worry. It means they love you a bunch.
However, if that just isn’t for you, follow the steps above. Be patient with your pup as they learn an appropriate way to add their scent to the mix and find comfort in belonging to the pack.