No matter what breed you have, sock-eating has long been an iconic sport for many dogs across the world.
At first, your furry friend’s obsession with your socks starts out to be comical and innocent but soon turns into something ugly and devious.
If your dog is leaving you sockless, then read on. This article will explain why your dog or puppy eats your socks and how you can stop it from happening.
Why Do Dogs and Puppies Like Socks So Much?
Dogs and especially puppies often chew items that they aren’t supposed to. And a vulnerable sock that you mistakenly dropped on the way to the wash basket will certainly get your dog rather excited.
Socks are like toys and your dog will see it this way too. They are small, chewy, make the perfect tug of war toy and if they’re smelly, even better! It’s no wonder that your dog soon learns that a sock is desirable, especially when you give them a reaction, every single time. This is one big recipe for unrivaled entertainment.
But the issue unbeknown to your dog is that ingesting entire socks or even smaller ripped up pieces of socks can cause some serious health issues. And it’s necessary that we as responsible owners stop this behavior. Unless we enjoy expensive trips to the vets!
Why Sock Eating Poses Serious Danger to Dogs
If your dog has a particular obsession with your socks and hasn’t already become ill or eaten one, you’re lucky and take this opportunity to stop the behavior quickly!
Socks or any other items that are not digestible are technically known as “foreign bodies”. As foreign bodies do not digest, once swallowed, they just sit in the stomach, or even worse, find their way to the intestine, where they then sit there.
Because foreign bodies can’t be digested they instead obstruct the normal route that food and water would otherwise take. The obstruction can be directly in the stomach, or further down the line, in the intestines. Either way, this is already a serious health issue. At first, your dog may experience severe vomiting, lethargy, a lack of appetite and constipation. But in the end, if left untreated can actually be fatal.
It’s a very big mistake to think that any foreign body ingested “will just get pooped out” at a later stage. While it’s fair to say that this does happen sometimes, the risk is so great that any foreign body ingested needs to be taken seriously and an emergency trip to your veterinarian would be necessary.
How to Stop Your Dog Chewing and Eating Socks
Your pup won’t be chilling out with his buddies at sOcktoberfest anymore!
Let’s cover 5 ways you can stop your dog from stealing and eating your socks. Some tips are actionable today, and others are somewhat of a training method that may take some time and consistency.
1) De-sock all rooms in your house
Without a doubt, the most practical and instant way to stop your dog stealing your socks is to locate them somewhere he can’t access them. If you didn’t have a good excuse to spring clean your home, you do now! Be sure to locate all your socks and keep them tidy in a single draw, out of his reach or in your bedroom with the door shut.
Most dogs are opportunist sock poachers. The socks you accidentally drop on the way to the wash basket, or socks you leave out to dry after washing are the main victims. This can be harder said than done, especially if you have young children or husbands leaving random socks everywhere. Try your best to keep socks under wraps.
This is the first step you should take, but it doesn’t really fix his obsession. So let’s take a look at that next.
2) Preventative Chewing Training
This is more of a training routine that should be on-going regardless of the sock issue. But don’t worry, it’s super easy.
It’s a very simple technique that involves 4 simple steps:
- Stopping your dog when he starts chewing something he shouldn’t
- Informing him that you don’t like this behavior
- Replacing what he was chewing with something you allow him to chew, like a toy
- Praising him heavily when he focuses on the toy.
This doesn’t need to be a military-style training routine, but more of an on-going training exercise that happens casually, on a daily basis. It’s simple, but it works so well due to positive reinforcement of behavior that you as the owner approve of. Dogs, in general, only want to appease their owner, so when they know what actions receive a positive response from you, they will do it more often.
After 1-2 months of this constant, stop, inform, replace, reward routine, your dog will no longer opt for the chair legs, your shoes, or your socks.
3) Provide More Mental Stimulation
Many dogs, unfortunately, don’t receive enough mental stimulation as they do physical stimulation, but it’s certainly just as important!
A lot of negative behavior seen in dogs can actually be reduced and even stopped by introducing sufficient mental stimulation. Your dog’s mind needs exercise just like his physical body does. Training, interactive puzzle toys and engaging in playtime with your dog all go towards mental stimulation.
When dogs receive adequate mental stimulation their stress levels decrease, they appear to be happier and more content. And not to mention, destructive behavior and excessive chewing significantly decrease.
All breeds are different. Generally speaking, breeds that require high amounts of physical exercise, will also need high amounts of mental exercise too. A great example is the Siberian Husky!
P.S This isn’t to take away from his physical exercise requirements either. Exercise plays a critical roll in all well-behaved dogs. Try increasing his physical exercise as well as his mental exercise.
4) Practice Drop It and Leave It Commands
Prevention is better than cure. A solid understanding of “drop it” and “leave it”, may save you a trip to the vets.
If a sock falls behind you while you bring your laundry upstairs, not all hope is lost. If your dog has received adequate training for “drop it” then you won’t have to put up a fight to get it back.
I could sit here and give you a written explanation but for this particular training command there’s a fantastic video that would be better for you to watch, it’s underneath and it plays right here on the page 🙂
5) Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has long been used to prevent dogs from chewing, biting and even eliminating in certain areas. Strong citrus or acidic smells are typically disliked by most dogs.
This isn’t guaranteed to work. Some people swear by apple cider vinegar, and others don’t. Despite commonly being known as a smell “all dogs hate”, some actually don’t mind it, and others, even like it!
If your dog doesn’t like the smell of apple cider vinegar then by all means, try it out on your socks. Only spray a little on your socks, and don’t wear them while they’re damp!
Again, this is a little extra trick up your sleeve and may or may not work for your dog. The other 4 methods are without a doubt the most effective.
My Dog Ate a Sock. What Should I Do!
Before going to the vet, call them, right away. They will find out important information and will give you advice in the moment. Their instructions will typically depend on how long ago your dog ingested the sock.
In most scenarios, they will instruct you to immediately go the veterinarian practice, if that’s a possible option for you.
Time is of the essence because a sock in the stomach is easier to resolve than if it passes on through into the intestines. There are various ways to help a sock come back out of the stomach, compared to the intestines, where surgery then becomes the main option.
Most likely, your veterinarian will try to induce vomiting or pump the stomach.
Your dog’s stomach will be sending signals to the brain that there’s something in there which shouldn’t be and in some lucky situations, your dog will vomit the sock back out themselves.
Can you do anything while you are at home?
You can try to induce vomiting but it’s risky, and you should only try doing so if the veterinarian gives you instructions over the phone to try it.
Getting the sock back out is important. But there’s a chance that it can get stuck in the throat on it’s way out. If this were to happen, it would be an emergency situation and you would be infinitely better off having a veterinarian by your side to resolve the issue, than being at home alone.
Hydrogen Peroxide in small doses can help to induce vomiting. But should be given in the correct amounts. Here’s a full guide by the London Vet Clinic on this topic.
I’m not really in a position to give advice on treating this issue at home. If treating it at home is necessary for your particular situation then your veterinarian will guide you over the phone. In most cases, they will ask you to bring your dog to them.
So there you have it, you should now be better prepared to stop the sock monster in his tracks!
If you have experience with a sock-eating dog, comment below and tell me your story, I will look forward to getting back to you!
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