My dog greatly enjoys stealing socks and running around with them in his mouth any chance he gets. He doesn't destroy them; he just holds on to them. Eventually, he will get bored with this and just drop the socks. I know he does it just to get my attention, but I am not sure of a good way to stop this behavior.

Obviously, I do my best to keep socks hidden from him at all times, so he doesn't have the opportunity, but every chance he gets, he will pick one up and run off with it.

How do I stop him from stealing socks?

  • 3
    when my brother would steal my socks, i would take another pair of socks, put one of the socks inside the other one, and then proceed to beat him with my new weapon... it wasn't the best behavior deterrent, but it sure was fun.
    – n00b
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 22:03
  • Note that your socks carry a lot of your scent, even after washing. (My cats will sometimes respond almost as strongly to a sock or washcloth as to catnip.) That may make it hard to resist as a toy -- "This has lots of Eep's scent on it, it's obviously a much-loved item, that makes it a great candidate for keep-away games. Hey, look, I've got your thing! Chase me and maybe you can get it back!" I like the suggestion of giving him a few objects of his own that are suitable for chase and tug-of-war games, so he's less motivated to swipe yours.
    – keshlam
    Commented Feb 1 at 1:48

3 Answers 3


Look who figured out how to get attention from you! And judging by him making you post here, he's done a fine job of it. Face it, your dog has outsmarted you. Happens to me almost daily. ;-)

As you have already figured out, he's doing it to get your attention, and he's succeeding because you go chasing after him, right?

Time to outsmart your dog! Find an old sock you don't care about and make it a toy for him. Tie a knot in it so you both know which one it is. When you have the time, let him grab that one and make it a game to get it back. This will be the game and the attention he craves. (Yes, dogs not only play games but invent them, and "keep away" is an ever popular one.) When he grabs a real sock, completely ignore him. Do not try to get it back, do not even acknowledge he has it. Really, you must completely ignore his stealing of a real sock no matter what.

Pretty soon he'll learn that only The Sock gets attention. He'll learn to ignore the others, and now you have only one sock you need to control. It will take some time, probably weeks, but it will happen without undue stress to you or him and with no real major efforts.

  • 1
    That's the way to do it. And yet, socks are cheap.. No matter if the dog starts chewing one of your better shoes, do nothing. If you jump up and reach for the shoe that dog will know a bulletproof way to get your attention and goodbye all the shoes you forget on the floor. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 5:09
  • 1
    Yah, I never chase him when he has one (though the very first time I did make that mistake, which I'm sure is where he learned this from)... I just wait till he drops it pick it up quietly and walk away. I didn't think of giving him a "toy sock" though, I'll give that a try!
    – EEP
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 16:04

Your dog is most likely stealing your socks because they smell like you. A few good ways to prevent this behavior are:

  1. Plenty of exercise. If your dog doesn't have loads of pent up energy, then he/she will be less likely to engage in extra-curricular activities.
  2. Attention. Have one-on-one time with your dog. After all he/she is stealing your socks for your smell, or, when you catch the dog in act, he/she will receive attention. Whether your reaction is good or bad, the dog still sees it as attention.
  3. Keep your socks out of reach. After all, if they aren't there, then they can't be stolen.

If you notice that the thieving sessions are around the same time every day, then you can easily prevent this by having a short 10-minute training or play session right around that time to distract your dog.

Hope this helps.

  • Good ideas but he does it even when he is tired and getting plenty of attention from me... sometimes he just picks them up and looks at me, doesn't even run away with them. I'm sure this will be quite helpful to someone else though so thanks for the good answer!
    – EEP
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 16:03

My alternative method involves the dog learning to present the sock owner the act of placing the sock somewhere it should be. Rather than taking a sock and putting the sock somewhere it shouldn’t be. I speak from experience - I would train my dog every time she picked up a sock to put it in my laundry basket and reward her every time she drops the sock in the laundry basket.. She eventually learned every time she picked up a sock she had to go through a boring training session and eventually just moved on


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