Why does my dog lick my underwear? Here’s what you need to know before diving deeper into the topic. Dogs are incredible companions. Dogs can sense your emotions and give you comfort. They also like to go on adventures and keep you company in different settings.
However, that doesn’t mean that they also don’t have some gross habits that can be pretty confusing to us. A particularly annoying, gross, and puzzling dog behavior is licking underwear. If your canine companion digs into the laundry, it can be puzzling why they end up licking your underwear.
If this has happened to you, you might wonder, why does my dog lick my underwear? Why not my pants, shirts, or anything else? If your dog has been acting this way, you have come to the right place. This article covers everything you need to know about why your dog is licking your underwear.
By the end of this article, you will learn about dogs’ sense of smell and taste, how that impacts their decision to lick your underwear, why your dog is licking your underwear, and what can be done to stop this behavior.
Before you scroll down to a more in-depth answer to this guide, “Why Does My Dog Lick My Underwear,” you can check out these other dog-related questions answered by our team at We Love Doodles: Why Does My Dog Eat Grass Frantically and Why Does My Dog Roll Around After Eating?
Dog’s Sense of Smell and Taste
The primary reason why your dog is licking your underwear is that they have a keen sense of smell and taste. Smell and taste are primary senses that dogs use to interact with the world. Just as humans like looking at and touching things, dogs want to smell and taste something.
Dogs smell and taste things to identify friends from foes, what is safe to eat, and satiate their curiosity. Dogs’ sense of smell and taste is much more advanced than humans. Dogs have an organ in their nose called the vomeronasal organ or Jacobson’s organ.
The Jacobson’s organ allows them to process smells differently than humans and identify a broader range of scents. Dog experts estimate that dogs have a sense of smell over 100,000 times stronger than humans. Their high-powered olfactory abilities allow them to pick up things like pheromones and other scents that we cannot even begin to detect.
In addition to their incredible sense of smell, dogs also have a great sense of taste. Dogs have around 1,700 taste buds, while humans have approximately 9,000. However, that doesn’t mean that dogs have a weak sense of taste. Dogs’ tasting abilities differ from humans in that they can taste water and salt but not sweet things.
The difference in how dogs taste things is because they lack something called the sucrase-isomaltase gene. This gene is responsible for the ability to taste sweet things. All mammals have this gene except for dogs, foxes, and wolves. The combination of an advanced sense of smell and taste allows dogs to identify various scents and flavors and is the primary reason your dog likes to lick your underwear.
More Dog Guides: Why Does My Dog Nudge Objects With His Nose?
Reasons Why Your Dog Is Licking Your Underwear
Now that you know why your dog is licking your underwear let’s look at why your puppy engages in this behavior.
1. Your Dog is Curious and is Attracted to a Smell
The most common reason your dog is licking your underwear is that they are attracted to the smell. Dogs are curious creatures and constantly explore the world through their sense of smell.
Your dog is probably smelling your underwear to figure out what it is and why it smells the way it does. In addition, dogs are also attracted to certain smells. Just like humans, dogs have their scent. Your scent might tempt your dog, which is why they are drawn to lick your underwear.
Related: What Smells Do Dogs Hate?
2. Your Dog Could Be Attracted to Your Underwear’s Pheromones
Another reason your dog is attracted to your underwear because it contains pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals released by the body that impact the behavior of other individuals. Pheromones play a role in many mammalian behaviors, such as social bonding, mate selection, and territorial marking.
Many experts believe that pheromones play a role in why dogs are attracted to certain people. It is also thought that pheromones play a role in why dogs are attracted to certain types of clothing, like underwear.
3. Your Dog Doesn’t Have Much Attention, or It’s Bored
If your dog is bored or wants attention, it may begin sniffing your underwear. Dogs are social creatures and need interaction with others to stay happy and healthy. If your dog is not getting enough attention, it may turn to your underwear to get your attention.
In addition, if your dog is bored, it may turn to your underwear to entertain itself. Dogs are known for their destructive behaviors when bored, such as chewing on furniture or digging holes outside. Licking your underwear may be your dog trying to find something to do.
Related: Why is My Dog So Obsessed with Me?
4. Your Dog Could Be Dealing with Stress and Anxiety
One of the less obvious reasons your dog may be licking your underwear is because of stress or anxiety. Dogs can suffer from stress and anxiety just like humans. When stressed or anxious, dogs may engage in repetitive behaviors like licking. Compulsive licking is a common symptom of anxiety in dogs. If your dog is licking your underwear compulsively, it may be a sign that they are stressed or anxious.
5. Your Dog Probably Has a Poor Diet
Your dog’s diet could also influence your dog to lick your underwear. Dogs need a balanced diet to stay healthy. If your dog is not getting the nutrients it needs, it may turn into weird behaviors like licking your underwear.
A lack of specific vitamins and minerals can lead to deficiencies that can cause several different problems. For example, a lack of zinc can lead to skin problems like dermatitis, making your dog more likely to lick its owner’s underwear to soothe its skin.
Additionally, if your dog is iron deficient, it may try to lick any period of blood stains on your underwear because blood contains high iron levels. Talk to your veterinarian if you think your dog’s diet may cause its licking behavior. They can recommend a balanced diet to meet your dog’s needs.
6. Your Dog Probably Has Poor Hygiene
If you do not shower or bathe regularly, your dog may start to lick your underwear because of poor hygiene. Your sweat and body odor will linger in your underwear, which can be an attractive combination for your dog. Additionally, it can stink if you do not wash your underwear regularly.
The bacteria that cause this odor may also be attractive to your dog. To avoid this issue, make sure you are showering and washing your underwear regularly. It would be best to keep your underwear where your dog cannot reach it, such as in a dresser drawer.
Related: Best Smelling Dog Shampoos.
7. Your Dog Could Be Seeking For Your Attention
Your dog may lick your underwear to get your attention. Dogs are social creatures, and they crave attention from their owners. If your dog is not getting enough attention, it may turn to licking your underwear to get you to interact with it.
In addition, if you often punish your dog when it licks your underwear, it may continue to do so as a way to get your attention. Dogs are known for their attention-seeking behaviors, such as barking or chewing on furniture.
If you think your dog is licking your underwear for attention, try to give it more attention throughout the day. Play with it, pet it, and give it treats. Additionally, do not punish your dog when it licks your underwear. Punishment will only reinforce the behavior and make it more likely to continue.
8. Your Dog Has an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
In rare cases, dogs may lick your underwear because of an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental health disorder that causes dogs to perform repetitive behaviors like licking.
Dogs with an obsessive-compulsive disorder may lick their owner’s underwear because it is a part of their compulsions. If your dog is licking your underwear obsessively, it is essential to talk to your veterinarian. They can help you create a treatment plan to help your dog.
9. Other Dogs Could influence your Dog
If you have more than one dog, the other dog may influence your dog to lick your underwear. Dogs are social creatures, and they often learn behaviors from other dogs. For example, if you have a dog that is often left alone, it may start to lick your underwear to cope with its separation anxiety.
Additionally, if you have a dog that is often aggressive, your other dog may start to lick your underwear to try to defuse the situation. If you think another dog influences your dog’s licking behavior, try to keep them separated. Separating your dogs may require crating or penning your dog when you are not home.
10. Your Underwear Reminds Your Dog of its Toys
If your dog often plays with toys, it may start to lick your underwear because it smells like its favorite toy. Confusing toys and other items is especially likely if you have a puppy still learning to differentiate between toys and other objects.
Keep your dog’s toys separate from your belongings to avoid this issue. Keeping their toys separate will help your dog understand the difference between them and your belongings and clothes.
How to Stop Your Dog from Licking Your Underwear
Now that you know the various reasons why your dog is licking your underwear, you are probably ready to get them to stop this behavior. Thankfully, there are several effective methods to prevent this from happening.
Use positive reinforcement whenever your dog is not licking your underwear. You can accomplish this by giving your dog treats, verbal praise, and pets when it behaves correctly. Keep your underwear out of reach by putting it in a drawer or hamper your dog cannot access.
Consider using a bitter-tasting spray on your underwear. This spray will deter your dog from licking your underwear since the unpleasant taste. Talk to your veterinarian. If the problem persists, there could be an underlying medical condition causing it. Get help from a professional dog trainer.
They can help you teach your dog the appropriate behavior and stop them from licking your underwear. You can get your dog to stop licking your underwear with patience and effort. Try different methods until you find the best one for you and your dog.
Conclusion For “Why Does My Dog Lick My Underwear”
So, if you’ve ever asked yourself, ‘why does my dog lick my underwear,’ you can rest assured knowing they do it for various reasons, most of which are innocuous, such as attention-seeking and boredom. However, others are more problematic, such as anxiety and even compulsion.
If your dog is licking your underwear, there are several things you can do to get them to stop. The most important thing is to be patient and consistent with your dog. You can get your dog to break this unwanted behavior with time and effort.
If you find this guide, “Why Does My Dog Lick My Underwear,” helpful, you can check out these other dog-related questions answered by our team:
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- Why Does My Dog Suddenly Want to Sleep Alone?
- Why Does My Dog Scratch the Carpet?
You can learn more about why your dog would lick your underwear by watching “Why Do Dogs Lick Everything” down below:
Dr. Sabrina Kong graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in England in 2016 and has been working at a small animal clinic in Northern California since then. She grew up in the Bay Area and got her bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She also became a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner through a program at the University of Tennessee.
When she isn’t in the clinic taking care of her four-legged patients, she enjoys traveling and trying new foods with her friends and her three-legged dog, Apollo. She adopted Apollo from her clinic when he was a puppy with numerous health issues. Dr. Kong truly cares about taking care of animals.