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Why Do Dogs Sleep On Your Clothes? A Pooch’s Point of View

Written by Adaptil, published on 21 April 2022

I do like to have a good sniff – especially if it includes my human’s clothes.  I know that my nose is very powerful – it has two uses, one for smelling and one for breathing.  But we breathe differently to humans. Dr. Michael T. Nappier, DVM, DABVP, of the Virginia Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine wrote about how special our noses are:

  • A dog’s nose is used for smelling and breathing (similar to humans) but did you know that our noses can breathe in and out at the same time (not like humans)?  Clever, eh?
  • Dogs have a vomeronasal organ which helps us detect pheromones;  these pheromones can affect our behaviour. We know that the clever people at Ceva produce the ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser which emulates Dog Appeasing Pheromones;  it certainly makes me and my friends feel more comfortable and secure.
  • Our nostrils can smell separately from each other! This helps us sniff out smelly objects even if they are well hidden.
  • Our sense of smell is so good that it can help us even sense tiny reductions in the concentrations of odour molecules that occur over short periods of time – this helps my tracker doggie friends follow an animal or person when sniffing the ground.  They are very clever!
  • We can smell up to 100,000 times better than humans! We are superior sniffers!

So, because my nose is so clever, I can even pick up on my human’s scent from their clothes and that is really reassuring!  

dog lying under blanket

Why Do Dogs Sleep On Your Clothes?

My human is an excellent replacement for my doggie mummy.  She looks after me so well, by making sure I get fed regularly, she’s got me a lovely cosy bed which I can curl up in and I get to go on super-long walks with my doggie friends.

But I do like to smell her when she’s not around because it makes me feel safe and secure.  I’ve got used to her being around during lockdown, but she has started to go back to work and I need to adjust! Sometimes I might take one of her t-shirts out of the washing basket and sneak it into my bed, hoping she doesn’t spot it.  I’m not fussy if it’s clean or if it’s dirty and needs a wash – as long as I can smell her.

dog asleep on jumper

Tips for humans: how your clothes can make dogs feel safe and secure

  • If you are going to leave your dog home alone, make sure you leave your scent around.  There are a number of things that you need to take into account when you leave us home alone, like don’t leave us for too long, make sure we have some toys and treats to keep us busy and, importantly, one of your nice fluffy jumpers would help to keep us relaxed when you are out. You could even plug in an ADAPTIL Calm Diffuser  to ensure they feel calm and relaxed whilst home alone.
  • Make sure you give us an old one that you don’t mind smelling of dog after a while.  I know you won’t be happy if we go and help ourselves – we might pick the wrong one!
  • It doesn’t need to be your clothes – it can be a cushion or a blanket that you have used – as long as it has your scent on it.
  • Something that we can snuggle into is good; we particularly like your clothes if you have just taken them off – they not only smell of you but they are lovely and warm from your body heat.
  • Don’t worry if you see us trying to re-arrange our bed with your clothes – it’s a doggie thing!  Sometimes we scratch our bed before lying down – our ancestors used to scratch their bed before lying down, to mark their territory and if we do it to your clothes, it is our way of making sure that no-one else takes it.
  • A blanket or clothes with your scent on them will be very helpful if there’s a lot of noise around – particularly when there are fireworks.  Most dogs get very anxious when they hear fireworks; not only do we have very sensitive noses, we have very sensitive ears as well, and having a safe place to hide with your clothes can be very comforting.

small dog curled up with owner

Important things for humans to look out for

Mostly, we will just be happy to snuggle up to your clothes because it is reassuring for us.  However, there’s a puppy in the next street that has started to eat their owner’s clothes – that’s not good!  If you see your dog doing this, it could become serious as it could cause an obstruction in their intestines. Socks are sometimes a favourite thing for dogs to run away with, so if you have a sock missing and you suspect that this has happened, you should take your pooch to a vet to get them checked out.

cute puppy asleep on blanket

I’m a good doggie, and I will only sleep on clothes that my human has given me, but just be aware that your dog might be stealing your clothes in order to get your attention or they may be bored.  You may have to build in some extra play time during the day, both physical and mental, which may mean an extra walk or playing games with us in the garden.

Finally, if you have special clothes that you would rather we don’t use, make sure you hide them in a drawer.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so don’t get cross if we use something that is just lying around – they’re fair game to us!

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