Nancy Binger

When we can’t find a sock in our house, we know it’s not the dryer.  It’s the sock thief.  We have two of them - a toy poodle named Noah, and a goldendoodle named Flynn.  Do you have a sock thief in your house?  Then please read on.

Little Noah can be fun to watch while he’s gallivanting around with one of our socks - flipping it in the air, growling at it on the floor, or running away with it.   As a matter of fact, Noah’s antics inspired my first children’s book – “Most Wanted! The Sock Thief”. 


Curious, I asked our family veterinarian why our dogs “take”, “chew”, or even “eat” our socks and these were his top answers: 

  • They love you and since your socks smell like you, taking your socks makes them feel closer to you.
  • They like the texture and chewing sensation.
  • They’re bored and looking for something to do.

Our vet’s advice?

“If your dog is playing with a sock, take it away, and teach young family members to do the same.”

Why? Because if your dog swallows a sock, it can get stuck in their stomach or intestines and make them sick…really sick. And even if it doesn’t make them sick, the chewed-on, mushed-up socks they leave behind are not fun to clean up or find.

Small dogs may only chew a hole in one of your favorite socks. The bigger the dog, however, the bigger the chance they might decide they like your sock so much they swallow it.  Afterall, there’s no safer place to keep something they value and don’t want to give up or share.  It’s dog logic and for them it makes perfect sense.  Or your dog may just think they’ve hunted down and captured a well-deserved snack.

Our toy poodle, Noah, just chews and plays with socks. Our 95-pound goldendoodle, Flynn, swallows them.  We try to keep our socks out of his sight and reach, but he still finds one now and then.  Afterwards, he throws it up with everything else in his stomach…yuck.  He’s like a cat throwing up a really big hairball. Same sound beforehand, bigger mess afterwards.  Same guilty, embarrassed, slightly remorseful look. 

Our unfortunate sock mishaps with Flynn led me to make some important changes to my book, “Most Wanted! The Sock Thief”.  The story now ends with an encouraging message to kids to put their socks away.  I also added a section in which our family veterinarian teaches about dog behavior, and gives some basic care and safety information like the following:

If you know or think your dog has swallowed a sock, take them to your family vet before any of the following symptoms appear.  It may keep your dog from getting really sick or needing more expensive treatment later - like surgery.  If they do display these symptoms, get them to your family vet right away:

  • They show discomfort when you press or touch their belly.
  • They stop eating or eat very little.
  • They have none of their usual energy.
  • They vomit repeatedly.

Want to be able to find your socks the next time you reach for them, try these ideas:

  • Train them so they’ll “leave it” or “drop it”. Attend a training class or look at videos and books for help.
  • Trade the sock in your dog’s mouth for a toy or treat.
  • Practice by intentionally putting a sock in front of your pup. When they listen to your command to “leave it”, reward them with a treat, words of praise, or affection.


Time spent training with your sock thief is a great way to build a strong and lasting bond between you.


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