If you’ve ever noticed your dog will often like licks your clothes (clean, or dirty laundry), then understandably you’re going to be curious to know why. It’s a weird habit for sure, but there are some very good reasons why dogs lick clothes, furniture, or your bed.
Dogs will lick your clothes as a grooming tactic, to possible relieve anxiety and comfort themselves, or because they love the taste of your clothes. Dogs can also lick clothes and furniture due to a possible medical issue.
Below I will explain in more detail all the possible reasons why your dog can’t keep their tongue off your clothes and furniture. It also includes tips to help you correct this licking behavior.
What does it mean when a dog licks your clothes?
We all know licking is a normal part of every dog’s life. However, when this extends to them licking things they shouldn’t, it can have a potential hygiene impact. For example, when dogs aren’t licking themselves, they are licking our faces, feet, hands, and anywhere else they see fit.
Most of us find this normal and don’t read too much into it. But if when they start licking your clothes, this odd habit can leave you baffled.
What could possibly be that amazing about your clothes that makes your dog want to lick and lick some more? Particularly if your clothes are dirty and haven’t been cleaned!
Before I go on, it’s a normal behavior among dogs. While it may seem creepy, it’s a habit familiar to almost all dog parents, you’re not alone.
Why dogs lick my clothes
Let’s take a closer look at why your dog likes to lick your clothes, bed, and furniture.
1. It’s part of your dog’s love language
From the time they are born, puppies experience their mother’s love and comfort through licking. Mother dogs will lick their little ones to show them affection, among other reasons.
As puppies grow, they embrace this affection-licking habit and practice it on their human family.
Your dog may be licking your clothes simply because they want to remind you how much they love and care for you.
Your clothes have your body scent, which your dog is highly fond of. Licking your clothes makes them happy.
2. Exploring chemical scents on your clothes
If your dog’s nose could talk, it would go on and on about the interesting chemical secretions lingering on your clothes, what experts call pheromones.
Dogs smell stuff that our human noses can’t, thanks to their powerful sense of smell that’s over 10,000 times better than ours – it’s why they are used at airports to sniff out drugs.
All humans have sweat glands that carry pheromones.
Each time you sweat, these glands release chemical secretions that reveal a lot about you — like your mood, what you’ve eaten recently, and the smell of those you’ve had body contact with.
If you have a sweaty t-shirt or pants lying somewhere, your dog’s nose will detect more than just the sweat. Your dog will get a whiff of these pheromones and immediately get down to their scent investigation mission — licking while sniffing your dirty clothes, and then lying down on them too.
As they attentively lick and smell, they get to gather as much of the chemical scents on your clothes as possible.
Your dog has an extraordinary organ in their nose known as Jacobson’s organ that captures these “odorless” chemical scents. Our human noses lack this organ.
Jacobson’s organ connects with the part of your dog’s brain that analyzes the pheromones on your clothes. That’s how they can find out so much about you just by licking your clothes.
3. Your clothes feel and taste great
There might be something on your clothes that your dog finds delicious so they want to lick and lick until their heart’s content.
Maybe the last time you offered them a crumbly treat, you wiped the tiny crumbs (left on your hands) on your clothes. They might even like the taste of the detergent.
Licking is simply their attempt to win themselves a free snack or nice smell stuck on your clothes.
It can also be the salty taste of sweat on your clothes. Dogs like the saltiness in sweat, hence why they don’t mind licking sweaty clothes.
Besides taste, your dog probably likes how amazing the texture of your clothes feels on their tongue. This may be the case if you’ve realized your dog often licks a particular cloth more than other clothes.
4. They’re trying to clean things up
We all know dogs excel in the grooming department courtesy of their licking skills.
Just as dogs lick other dogs’ coats during a mutual grooming session, your dog may also extend his grooming services to your clothes. They may be licking your clothes because they want to clean them on your behalf.
5. It could be an anxiety issue
Dogs resort to licking and chewing stuff to cope with stress or anxiety.
II there’s something stressing out your dog, they may resort to licking whatever they find — including your clothes. Your dog’s source of anxiety could be something as ordinary as hunger, loud noises, pent-up energy, or loneliness.
You may also notice other signs of anxiety as they lick your clothes — for instance, whining or panting. Licking your clothes soothes them. It triggers their body to release feel-good endorphins that calm their anxious mind.
But if you notice your dog licks your clothes more frequently and with greater intensity while exhibiting other typical signs of anxiety, it’s best to speak to your vet for guidance.
Their anxiety problem may be deeper than you think.
Some pet owners will also notice their dog is licking the floor as part of this anxious behavior.
6. You’re unknowingly encouraging the habit
Each time you see your dog lick your clothes, how do you react? Do you stare at them as you smile, giggle, or pet them for their seemingly adorable deed?
If yes, they will continue licking your clothes because they think you enjoy seeing them doing so. Your positive reaction motivates them to keep up with their clothes-licking behavior.
7. There might be a medical issue or behavioral disorder
If your dog’s habit of licking your clothes seems like an obsession, there may be a serious underlying issue that requires your vet’s attention.
Illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease can make a dog engage in excessive licking habits. And they will lick just about anything — clothes, the carpet, couch covers, you name it.
It might also be a serious behavioral issue like Canine Compulsive Disorder (the dog version of OCD). If your dog has CCD, licking your clothes may become their favorite pastime. They will spend most of their time licking the clothes and other stuff like their life depends on it.
If you suspect your dog’s licking behavior has gotten out of hand, you should see the vet.
Handy Hint: Both you and your dog can become ill if they lick your wounds or blood.
How to stop your dog from licking your clothes
While some dog parents don’t mind when their dog licks their clothes, others this habit downright annoying. Luckily, there are a few straightforward ways to correct it:
- Redirect their attention. Whenever you catch your dog licking your clothes, don’t scold them. Instead, throw them their favorite toy to interrupt the licking session.
- Reward good behavior. Your dog knows what’s right and unacceptable when you reward good behavior. So, if you see them licking your clothes, issue a command like “no” or “no licking” to make them stop and focus on you.
And when they do, hand them a treat or praise them for not carrying on with the licking. Do this regularly. With time, they will learn that licking your clothes isn’t a good idea since they won’t get any nice stuff if they do it.
- Reduce the temptations. Avoid leaving your clothes where your dog can easily access them. Otherwise, you’ll always find their tongue busy on your clothes.
- Ensure your dog feeds at the right time, has easy access to water, and has enough playtime with you. This will help control licking behaviors driven by anxiety. But if they still carry on with the habit, speak to a professional.
Why do dogs lick blankets and clothes?
It might be their way of coping with anxiety, expressing affection, they love the taste and texture, or because they’re attracted to the chemical secretions in the clothes.
Do dogs lick you because they love you?
Yes, that’s right. Licking is one of the ways dogs show their love for human bestfriends.
Why is my dog all of a sudden licking everything?
Your dog might be having an underlying health issue or suffering from Canine Compulsive disorder (CCD). You should speak to your vet since excessive licking isn’t normal.
Dogs like to lick their owner’s clothes for many reasons, most of which are harmless. However, some clothes licking can point towards a more serious issue with the dog so it’s worth keeping a close eye on the behaviour in case it is due to a possible medical issue.