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How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Eating Socks?

Posted in General

Dogs that are not well trained often do things that they shouldn’t. Socks are one of the most common things that dogs eat and vets often deal with panicked owners, wondering if their dog is in danger because they have swallowed some socks. 

Although it might be a bit of a stereotype of naughty dogs, it’s not something to joke about because it can be very serious. A dog eating socks is at risk of serious complications as a result of an intestinal blockage. That’s why you need to tackle this problem as soon as it comes up, and the best way to do that is by training your dog to leave it instead of eating the sock. 

Why is your dog eating socks?

Many dog owners are confused about the reason for a dog eating socks in the first place. Why are they so interested in them because they’re not food? The simple answer is that you haven't trained your dog not to eat socks. Each and every behavior you desire in your dog has to be taught. Sometimes these are taught on purpose for example if you teach your dog to sit. Other things are taught to your dog unknowingly. This happens when you unknowingly reinforce an undesired behavior by giving your dog attention. Even telling your dog no, is considered attention. 

There are many reasons why dogs might eat socks. Even though we think of socks as a fairly mundane item, in the eyes of a dog, they seem to be quite important because all of the humans that they interact with are wearing them. If a dog craves attention, it may eat socks because they can tell that it immediately gets your attention. It becomes a game to the dog and they cannot differentiate between a toy and a sock. This tends to be due to a lack of training and a dog that hasn’t been given any boundaries will continue eating things that they shouldn’t. If you want to stop them from eating socks, you need to train your dog to leave them.

Here is how it can happen. Your dog smells your sock, why does she love them? It's because feet are stinky and socks smell like you quite a bit. So you kick your socks off to relax, the dog smells them and because they are lying on the floor with the rest of her toys she picks it up and either plays with it or eats it. Once she picks it up and if you see it, you reinforce it by talking to her even if it is a scolding, you might chase her and even end up in a tug of war with your dog over your sock. 

In some cases, dogs eat socks as a form of resource guarding. This is when a dog feels threatened and wants to guard items that they consider valuable, like bones or toys. If a dog is not properly socialized and feels threatened by other dogs or people, it may engage in this kind of behavior. 

In rare cases, your dog may be suffering from a condition called Pica. This causes dogs to eat a variety of non-food items, including rocks, leaves, dirt, and socks. Although the exact cause of this condition is unknown, it is believed that it could be linked to a behavior disorder or a digestive issue. 

Regardless of the exact reason, a dog eating socks is usually due to an issue with a lack of training. Dogs that are not trained properly from a young age do not have any boundaries and they are essentially free to do as they please. If you want to stop them from eating socks, you have to actively train your dog to leave it alone. 

What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats A Sock?

If your dog swallows a sock, it can be very serious, so you need to get in contact with your vet right away. 

The best case scenario is that the sock will pass through your dog’s system naturally. However, it all depends on the size of the sock and the size of your dog. Vets often get called about a dog eating socks, so they will know what to do. They will start by asking how long ago the dog swallowed the sock and what size it was. If the sock was swallowed recently, they may give you instructions to help you induce vomiting but do not decide this on your own. 

Unfortunately, if the sock was swallowed a few hours ago and it is quite large, things get more serious. If there is no other way to get the sock out, your dog may have to be called in for surgery. So, it’s incredibly important that you train your dog to leave socks alone when they are a puppy. Setting clear boundaries from day 1 will help your puppy to understand what is expected and what the rules are. They normally live to please you so as long as you set clear boundaries, they normally are happy to follow. 

How Do You Stop Your Dog Eating Socks?

If you are concerned about your dog eating socks, there are some simple steps that you can take to keep them safe. 

Hide The Socks 
The most obvious thing to do is keep your socks out of reach of your dog. This might sound easy, but in a house with young children, it can be quite difficult. Make sure that everybody in the family knows how important it is to keep socks tidied away at all times. Remember that if your dog is determined to get socks, they will go to great lengths, so don’t forget about socks that are in the bed or in clothes hampers that can be easily knocked over. 

Keeping socks out of the way is a short term solution to avoid a serious intestinal blockage. But if you want to deal with the problem effectively, you must deal with the underlying behavioral issues. 

Provide More Stimulation 
Mental and physical stimulation will help to distract dogs from socks and direct their attention towards other things. Make an effort to play with them more and show them toys that are safe to play with. Doggie puzzles that use food to stimulate them to solve the puzzle are very good for this. This should hopefully encourage them to leave the socks alone. Have you ever heard the saying "Idle hands do the devil's work?" Normally that saying is associated with children and it means if you don't keep the children busy, they will find something to do that might not be the best activity. 

Train Them To Drop It 
Although these other methods can help to manage the problem, the most important thing you need to do is train your dog to leave it whenever they pick up a sock. Teaching a dog ‘leave it’ and ‘drop it’ commands is one of the most important parts of their training and you should do this right away when they are a puppy. If you don’t do this, your dog will pick up whatever they like and they won’t know what they are and are not allowed to play with and swallow. 

If you are concerned about your dog eating socks and you want to keep them safe, training is the only way to do it. Our online training courses give you all of the tools that you need to train a puppy or an older dog from the comfort of your own home. Once you are able to teach your dog simple commands to drop and leave items, they will soon learn that socks are not for eating. 

The best way to focus your attention on any problem like this is when you ask yourself a question about why your dog is doing something, for example "Why does my dog eat socks" or "Why does my dog jump up on the counter" or "Why does my dog beg for food?" The very next question to ask yourself is "What have I done to teach my dog not to engage in this undesired behavior?" Only then can you begin to understand and make a plan to fix the undesired issue. 

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