As all dog owners know, our pet dogs do some funny and unusual things, including licking people’s clothes (even when they are wearing them).
To some dog owners, such behavior can be interesting and sometimes worrying.
That is why this website exists to answer this sort of question. So, why do dogs lick clothes?
What’s going on here? Let’s find out.
Why Do Dogs Lick Clothes?
Dogs lick clothes for several reasons. There could be a pleasant taste or smell on your clothes. It could be because they are happy to see you, or it could be a form of social grooming.
Dogs explore and understand the world with their mouths by licking, biting, and chewing.
It is similar to the way humans feel things with their hands.
Dogs also don’t understand the concept of clothes in the same way humans do, so how they react to them is different from how we do.
Let’s look at the reasons listed above in more detail and see which could explain why your dog likes licking your clothes.
1. Your Clothes Taste or Smell Good
If you have a nice taste or smell on your outfit, the dog will lick at it just for the pleasure of doing so.
This could be some spilled food or the taste of dog treats left on your hand and transferred to whatever you are wearing.
Or it could be your sweat or scent that makes the dog want to lick your clothing.
NOTE – You may also find this post interesting. It looks at the question – why does my dog eat my dirty underwear?
2. Your Dog is Happy to See You
Dogs use licking as a form of body language and communication. For example, if you watch two or more dogs together, they will often lick each other.
So it could just be that your dog licks your clothes because it is happy to see you.
It’s not really the clothes they are licking. You are important, and you just happen to be wearing clothes.
3. Canine Social Grooming
Dogs, humans, and other animals often perform social grooming as a way of bonding with each other.
As we said earlier, your dog does not understand that you are wearing clothes, so licking your clothes would feel the same as licking another dog’s coat.
Yes, lucky you, your dog is cleaning your clothes for you!
NOTE – You might also like to read this post about why dogs lick pants.
What Should I Do If My Dog Licks My Clothes?
If your dog licks your clothes, you have two choices you can either ignore it, or you can use distraction training to train them not to do this behavior.
The behavior is harmless apart from the risk of dog slobber on your clothing, so it’s totally up to you if you want to train them not to do it.
How to Stop Dogs from Licking My Clothes?
Training your puppy or adult dog not to lick clothes is a simple two-step process.
When you next catch them doing it, give them a firm “No” command.
This is not to tell them off, just to let them know that you do not want them doing what they are doing.
Then use something to distract them away from your clothing.
You can use treats, a beloved toy, some strokes or cuddles, or anything the dog enjoys enough to be distracted from your clothing.
This distraction will reinforce their behavior by doing something else rather than covering your clothes in dog slobber!
Note – You might also find this video useful (it has an adorable puppy).
Just click on the video, and it will start playing:
Should You Be Worried About It?
Dogs licking clothes is, in most cases, a perfectly normal, natural, and healthy pattern of behavior and, as such, is nothing to worry about.
However, it could be something to be concerned about if the licking is frantic, obsessive, or seems like the puppy or adult dog is doing so out of distress.
In this case, take the dog to the vet for a check-up as soon as possible.
It might not be anything to worry about, but it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your dog’s health and well-being.
If you are in financial difficulty and are worried about vet bills, this site lists helpful resources for charities to help you pay your bills.
(If you don’t live in the US, you can use Google to find similar help in your country, there is a lot of support for dog owners who are in difficulty).
Final Notes On Why Dogs Lick Your Clothes
Dogs lick clothes for many reasons, including if the clothing smells or tastes nice or as a form of showing affection and bonding.
It is probably nothing to worry about, but if you feel it might be due to an underlying health issue, you should take the puppy or dog to a vet for a check-up.
Tim is a proud, vetted, and experienced dog foster carer for a charity helping dog owners escape domestic abuse.
He has years of experience training and caring for dogs, both his own and other people’s.
He is an expert in canine behavior and is highly skilled in dealing with all dogs but specializes in the difficult ones that other people may struggle with.
When he isn’t fostering dogs, he is making friends with other people’s pups!