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Golden Retrievers can sometimes be mischievous by doing all sorts of things that may leave us puzzled.
One such behavior is their love for collecting dirty socks and chewing them up. But why do Golden Retrievers like socks?
These energetic gundogs were originally bred to retrieve game birds in the wild and they are also loyal to their handlers.
Going with their innate personalities, your Golden may rummage through the laundry basket to pick a pair of socks for chewing and toying with.
Read on to discover some of the top reasons that make these fluffy dogs become obsessed with their owners’ pair of socks.
Watch out for our practical tips on how you can manage socks obsession in Golden Retrievers.
Golden Retrievers Characteristics
Before we dive deep into the obsession of Goldens with socks, we need to highlight their origin and characteristics.
Golden Retrievers are large-sized dogs who are highly well-known for their lustrous coats and gentle demeanor toward humans.
Their coat color ranges from deep mahogany to shades of gold and cream. They have a set of lovable characters that makes them a favorite breed for first-time owners.
Golden Retrievers were first bred by Lord Tweedmouth during the late 19th century in the highlands of Scotland.
The nobleman was looking for a dog that would accompany hunters in the vast fields to retrieve gunned waterfowl.
Scotland was used as a hunting ground by hunters and sportsmen from all over the UK but there was no suitable dog breed that could jump into the water and retrieve gunned birds.
Tweedmouth first crossed a yellow retriever named ‘Nous’ with a Tweed water spaniel named ‘Belle’. He then infused the offspring with Red Setters, Labradors, and Bloodhounds that developed what we now know as the Golden Retriever.
Golden Retrievers became recognized as breeds by the UK’s Kennel Club in 1913 and by the American Kennel Club in 1925.
Personality Traits of Golden Retrievers
Golden Retrievers have an instinctive trait of carrying objects with their mouth owing to their innate retrieving abilities.
You are most likely to see your Golden puppy trying to pick up objects and toying around with them from as early as 2 months of age without being taught.
“These gundogs are known for their loyalty to their human caregivers, which makes them eager to please and do whatever it takes to make their owners happy.”
Golden Retrievers are also active, fun-loving, and playful dogs. They are likely to carry along their mischievous puppyhood behavior during the first phase of adulthood.
This makes them a good breed to have if you have kids in the house or if you’re looking for the perfect companion for your outdoor adventures.
Understanding The Socks Obsession
Ask any Golden Retriever owner and they will tell you how they found socks under the couch or freely lying on the dog’s bed.
Golden Retrievers’ fascination with socks can be understood by looking at their innate characteristics and some of the theories that explain this behavior.
Theories Behind Why Golden Retrievers Love Socks
1. Instinctual Behavior
Golden Retrievers have an inborn liking to carry objects with their soft mouth because they were bred to retrieve waterbirds from the swamps.
It, therefore, becomes easier to see why these intelligent dogs are most likely to steal your items. Any low-lying socks in your laundry basket are an easy target for your Goldie to pick up and play with.
Most socks are made with a soft material that is not hard on the dog’s mouth hence they find it easy to carry it along.
2. Socks are stacked with your scent
Your fluffy Golden pal would certainly love to interact with objects that carry your distinctive scent. Dirty socks are packed with a strong human smell which comes from the secreted oils and sweat.
Goldens can easily locate the socks, pick them, and chew for some time as a way of connecting with you and finding comfort.
By picking up the dirty socks from the laundry pile and dropping them at your feet, the Goldie is trying to ‘retrieve’ something they know belongs to you.
This can also be a good way of bonding with your dog and easing them whenever you are out for an errand.
If your Golden Retriever is fond of excessively chewing and ingesting tiny pieces of socks, then they could be suffering from a condition known as Pica.
This medical problem makes the affected dog crave non-food items such as paper, dirt, socks, rocks, cardboard, shoes, cloth, etc.
Pica is a serious health condition that should be controlled before causing harm to the dog. You should always know the difference between normal socks obsession in Golden Retrievers and when it gets out of hand.
Pica is largely caused by nutritional deficiencies and anxiety. If you suspect that your Goldie is obsessed with non-food items, you should take them to the vet for a checkup and early treatment.
Golden Retrievers are highly energetic dogs who require plenty of physical and mental stimulation to keep them active and fit.
When they are bored, they can quickly look for ways of creating their fun and that includes picking up your socks and chewing them up.
If your Goldie feels like they are not getting plenty of attention from you, then they may turn their focus to your items.
This can be a common way that your lovely pup uses to invite you for play or physical engagement. You should however not give your dog attention for engaging in bad behavior.
Being attentive to them on such occasions would encourage them to continue with the behavior as long as it gives them what they need.
1. Mischievous behavior
Younger Golden Retrievers can be goofy sometimes and hence they may decide to pick up your items for physical engagement.
Carrying and playing with socks is one way in which Goldens may show their mischievousness and adventurous personality.
Golden Retrievers are fun-loving and playful in nature. They can easily walk into your laundry hamper and pick some pairs of socks just for fun.
Socks are also a favorite option for Goldens to play with because they are soft, lightweight, and easy to toy around with.
Health Risks Associated with Sock Obsession
There’s nothing wrong when your Golden Retriever picks up and plays with your socks for a few minutes every week.
But when the obsession gets too high, your dog will be at risk of harming their health.
1. Choking hazard
Your lovely Golden pal may try to swallow the socks when chewing and this would pose a huge choking hazard whether swallowed as a whole or in pieces.
The fabrics might get stuck in the throat leading to obstruction of air hence causing choking which is a life-threatening condition.
2. Digestive problems
When your Golden chews on socks for a long time, the fabric material will become softer and they could easily take in some pieces.
The material is indigestible and hence it may tamper with the normal digestive cycle of the dog. This would irritate the gastrointestinal tract hence causing discomfort, pain, and vomiting.
Since the fabrics making up the socks are not digestible, they can easily get lodged in the intestines hence bowel obstruction.
The intestinal blockage will prevent food and water from passing through the digestive tract. The effects of this log jam are severe and painful and the affected dog might try to vomit without getting relief.
4. Intestinal injuries
When stuffed along the gut, the fabric materials on the socks can scratch or puncture the intestines’ wall hence causing bleeding, injuries, and abdominal trauma.
These open wounds will give room for bacteria which might cause severe infections.
If your Golden Retriever has ingested even a small piece of the socks, you need to take them to the vet for medical attention.
In the meantime, you can induce vomiting by administering a teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution per 5 pounds weight of the dog.
Stimulating your canine friend to throw up will help get rid of the non-food item from the stomach before it moves further down the digestive tract.
How to Manage Sock Obsession
If you always find some missing pairs of socks from your laundry hamper every time you want to do the laundry, it might be time to manage your Goldies obsession with your socks.
A mild obsession with your socks is not harmful to your canine friend, on the contrary, it may help in boosting your relationship thanks to the smell.
But the dangers of ingesting the whole fabric or small pieces should put you on alert of the health risks associated.
Prevention has always been better than cure. You can adopt the following practices to prevent your furry friend from accessing your socks freely.
1. Keeping socks out of reach
Leaving dirty socks on the doorways is an easy way to invite your Golden Retriever to pick them up, especially since they are stacked with your scent.
The best way to manage an obsession with human socks is by keeping the socks in a closed drawer or closet so that the dog cannot easily access them.
If your pup is very active and playful with the laundry basket, you can keep it in a closed cabinet or invest in a wash basket with a tight lid.
2. Provide appropriate toys
You should consider providing your lovely pooch with toys that are more interesting than pairs of human socks.
Make sure to give the dog a variety of toys to enable them to have chances with endless fun in new ways every day.
Soft plush toys are some of the best alternatives you can invest in. These toys are much softer than human socks and they are easier for your dog to carry and much fun to play with.
If your dog loves to nibble into your laundry corner, then you should consider getting them a soft yet durable chew toy.
This will help to satisfy their chewing instinct without predisposing them to health risks in case of ingestion.
Squeaky toys are also a good option to consider especially if your dog is inclined towards hunting and digging.
These toys will respond to every bite from the dog hence giving them a feeling of satisfaction when making a ‘catch’.
Don’t forget to keep your Golden Retriever mentally stimulated by providing them with puzzle toys. These toys would provide your dog with treats every time they solve a puzzle and it is good for their brain development and exercise.
3. Creating a safe environment
Make sure to provide a safe environment for your dog to stay. In addition to the interactive dog toys, you need to provide your Golden with a cozy bed to retreat to every time they feel overwhelmed.
You can rub your dog’s blanket on your body to soak up some of your scents. This will help in creating a favorable place for your dog to sleep and connect with you without stealing your socks.
Training and Behavior Techniques
After implementing the prevention practices, you now need to adopt some behavior correction techniques that should guide your lovely pup.
1. Redirecting behavior
You should be ready to interrupt your dog when you catch them running after your socks and redirect them to a positive platform.
Give them a firm ‘leave it’ or ‘no’ command when they try to pick the socks and offer them a soft plush toy instead.
Rub the soft plushies with your hands to soak up some of your distinctive scents before offering them to your dog.
This should help in teaching the dog what is off-limits for them and the safe ways to get physical stimulation.
2. Positive reinforcement
You need to reward and praise your Golden Retriever every time they leave your dirty socks alone. This will help to keep them away from your items and focus more on their toys and games.
Be careful not to punish your fluffy Golden when they pick up and chew your socks. This might create an immediate negative association with your scented items and could break your bond.
3. Consistency and patience
You are likely going to experience some hurdles when managing your dog’s obsession with socks but that should not discourage you.
Play your part by being consistent in training and practicing patience with your dog. Remember you are dealing with a habit that is embedded in your dog’s DNA and therefore you need to be slow with them.
Conclusion – Why Do Golden Retrievers Like Socks?
Golden Retrievers can be obsessed with socks since they are soft, easy to carry, and most importantly, they are stacked with human scent.
A mild obsession with socks may not be harmful to your playful Golden pal, but you should get concerned when they start chewing and ingesting the pieces.
Swallowing non-food items such as socks can pose a huge health risk to the affected Goldie leading to intestinal obstruction which might require surgery.
You should always keep your socks in a laundry hamper with a closing lid to prevent the dog from accessing them.
Don’t forget to continuously train your Goldie to manage their obsession with socks by redirecting bad behavior.
Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a pet expert with more than 20 years of experience working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.
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