Why Do Dogs Lick Clothes?

If you’ve ever noticed that your dog likes to lick your clothes – whether clean or dirty – then you’ll understandably be curious to know why. It’s certainly a strange habit, but there are some very good reasons why dogs lick clothing, furniture, or your bed.

Dogs will lick your clothes to groom themselves, relieve anxiety, and soothe themselves. another possible reason is that they love the taste of the clothes. However, dogs can also lick clothes and furniture because of a possible medical problem.

In this article, we discuss in detail all the possible reasons why your dog can’t keep his tongue off your clothes and furniture.

We also reveal some tips on how you can correct this licking behavior.

What Does It Mean When Dogs Lick Clothes?

We all know that licking is a normal part of any dog’s life.

However, when this gets to the point where they are licking things they shouldn’t be licking, it can have potential hygiene implications.

When dogs aren’t licking themselves, they are licking our faces, feet, hands, and any other places they see fit.

Most of us think it’s normal and don’t take it too seriously. But when your dog starts licking your clothes, this strange habit can leave you perplexed.

What could be so great about the clothes that the dog would want to lick them? Especially if your clothes are dirty and have not been cleaned.

Licking clothes is a normal behavior in dogs. Although it may seem strange, it is a habit that almost all dog owners know. So you are not alone.

Why Dogs Lick Clothes

Now let’s take a closer look at why dogs like to lick clothes, bedding, and furniture.

Showing affection

Even at birth, puppies experience their mother’s love and security through licking. Mother dogs lick their puppies to show their affection, among other things.

As puppies grow, they adopt this habit of licking and apply it to their human family.

Your dog may lick your clothes because he wants to remind you how much he likes and cares about you.

Your clothes carry your body odor, which your dog likes very much. Licking your clothes makes him happy.

Explore Smells On Clothes

If your dog’s nose could talk, it would constantly tell you about the interesting chemical secretions that are on your clothes.

These are pheromones, among other things.

Dogs smell things that our human noses cannot. Thanks to their strong sense of smell, which is more than 10,000 times better than ours, they can sniff out many things.

That’s why they are used at airports to detect drugs.

All humans have sweat glands that contain pheromones. Every time you sweat, these glands give off chemical secretions that reveal a lot about you.

So your dog can smell your mood, what you’ve eaten recently, and the scent of people you’ve had physical contact with on your clothes.

If you have a sweaty t-shirt, sweaty pants, or used socks lying around somewhere, your dog’s nose is picking up more than just sweat.

Your dog gets a whiff of these pheromones and immediately goes on a scent hunt. He licks and sniffs your dirty clothes and then lays on them as well.

As he attentively licks and smells, he picks up as many scents as he can from your clothing.

Your dog has an extraordinary organ in his nose called the Jacobson organ.

This organ allows dogs, as well as cats, to pick up these chemical scents that are odorless to humans. Our human noses lack this organ.

The Jacobson organ is connected to the part of your dog’s brain that analyzes the pheromones on your clothes. So they can find out a lot about you just by licking your clothes.

Taste and Texture

Perhaps there is something on your clothing that your dog finds so delicious that he wants to lick it to his heart’s content.

Your dog might notice little crumbs from the last treat after wiping your hands on your clothes after giving him the treat.

But he might also just like the taste of the detergent.

The licking in that case is simply their attempt to secure a free snack or a pleasant smell that sticks to your clothes.

It can also be the salty taste of sweat on your clothes. Dogs like the salty taste of sweat, which is why they don’t mind licking sweaty clothes.

This may even cause your dog to pull your socks off your feet.

Aside from the taste, your dog probably likes how good the texture of your clothes feels on their tongue.

This may be the case if you have noticed that your dog licks a particular article of clothing more often than other articles of clothing.


We all know that dogs excel at grooming themselves through their licking skills.

Just as dogs lick each other’s fur when grooming, your dog may extend his grooming services to your clothes as well.

He may be licking your clothes because he wants to clean them for you.

Anxiety Issues and Stress Relief

Dogs lick and chew on things to cope with stress or anxiety.

When your dog is stressed by something, he will lick anything he finds, including your clothes.

The cause of your dog’s anxiety may be something as mundane as hunger, loud noises, pent-up energy, or loneliness.

You may also notice other signs of anxiety when he licks your clothes, such as whining or panting.

Licking your clothing calms the dog. It causes the dog’s body to release beneficial endorphins that calm the anxious mind.

However, if you notice your dog licking your clothes more frequently and intensely while showing other typical signs of anxiety, you should talk to your veterinarian.

The anxiety problem may run deeper than you think.

Some pet owners also notice their dog licking the floor as part of this anxious behavior.

However, dogs can also sense when their owners are stressed or worried. In that case, your dog might even bring you socks to do you some good. In that case, he wants to help you relieve your stress.

You Unknowingly Encourage This Habit

How do you react every time you see your dog licking your clothes?

Do you stare, smile, giggle, praise, or pet him as a reward for his seemingly adorable act?

If so, your dog will continue to lick your clothes because she thinks you like it when she does that.

Your positive response will motivate them to keep licking your clothes.

Medical Problem Or Behavioral Disorder

If your dog’s habit of licking your clothes seems like an obsession, there may be a medical problem that requires your veterinarian’s attention.

Diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease can cause a dog to lick excessively. They will then lick everything, clothing, carpet, couch blanket, and anything else they can find.

It can also be a serious behavioral problem like Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CCD). This is the dog version of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

If your dog suffers from CCD, licking your clothes may become his favorite activity. He then spends most of his time licking your clothes and other things as if his life depended on it.

If you suspect that your dog’s licking behavior has gotten out of hand, you should see a veterinarian.

How to Keep Your Dog from Licking Your Clothes

While some dog owners don’t mind their dog licking their clothes, for others this habit is downright annoying.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to correct this:

  • Redirect the dog’s attention: If you catch your dog licking your clothes, don’t scold him. Instead, toss him his favorite toy to break up the licking.
  • Reward good behavior: When you reward good behavior, your dog knows what is right and what is unacceptable. So if you see him licking your clothes, give a command like “No” or “Don’t lick” to get him to stop and focus on you.

When he does, give him a treat or praise him for not continuing to lick your clothes. Do this on a regular basis.

Over time, he will learn that licking your clothes is not a good idea because he won’t get nice things.

  • Reduce temptations: Avoid leaving your clothes where your dog can easily reach them. Otherwise, you will always find him fiddling with your clothes with his tongue.
  • Keep your dog busy: Make sure your dog eats at the right time, has easy access to water, and has plenty of time to play with you. This will help control the anxiety-induced licking behavior. If the habit still persists, you should contact a professional.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dogs Licking Clothes

Why Do Dogs Lick Blankets and Clothes?

It may be a way of coping with anxiety, an expression of affection. Or they may love the taste and texture or be attracted to the chemical secretions in the clothing.

Do Dogs Lick People Out of Affection?

Yes, they do. Licking is one of the ways dogs show their affection for their best friend.

Why is My Dog Licking Everything All of a Sudden?

Your dog may have a health problem or be suffering from a compulsive behavior disorder (Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, CCD).

Talk to your vet because excessive licking is not normal.

Summary: Why Do Dogs Lick Clothes?

Dogs like to lick their owner’s clothes for many reasons, most of which are harmless.

However, licking clothing can also indicate a more serious problem with the dog.

So it’s worth keeping a close eye on the behavior in case it’s due to a possible medical problem.