Q. How can I keep my dog from taking my socks and underwear?

A. Socks and underwear are extremely appealing to dogs. After all, few things smell more strongly of family members than these items. But as any practicing veterinarian can tell you, these items are among the most dangerous things your dog can chew on. That’s because they often end up being swallowed, and once that happens, they can form blockages that may require surgery, and could even kill your dog.

Because of this danger, my number-one recommendation is training — for you and the other two-legged members of your family. You need to get in the habit of putting your clothing in a hamper, preferably one that lives behind a closed closet door so your dog can’t chew through the side or lift the lid. Putting dangerous items beyond the reach of your dog is paws-down the best way to protect your pet.

While you’re getting that habit down pat, work on redirecting your dog’s chewing habits to safe and acceptable alternatives. Chewing is normal and healthy for dogs. Puppies and adolescent dogs need to chew, but even old dogs are happy when they can gnaw as nature intended. Ask your veterinarian for suggestions for safe, durable chew toys that are not so hard that they can fracture your dog’s teeth, and rotate toys to keep them appealing. And remember: Dogs need a daily session of exercise to help keep them out of trouble.

Use positive reinforcement to teach your dog what he can chew. When he takes an approved object to chew, praise him. If you catch him with something he shouldn’t have, remove it without comment, provide an acceptable chew toy and praise him for chewing on that.