Why Do Dogs Chew on Shoes?

by Brenna Davis, Demand Media
    Puppies naturally chew on things to alleviate gum pain.

    Puppies naturally chew on things to alleviate gum pain.

    There's nothing more frustrating than coming home to discover that your dog has destroyed your gorgeous shoes. Even the cutest dog looks slightly less adorable with a shoe in his mouth. And while chewing makes no sense to people, dogs actually have very sound reasons to chew up shoes.

    Cutting Teeth

    Puppies chew on nearly everything to alleviate the pain of cutting adult teeth. They also haven't yet learned that some things are off-limits, and will put anything in their mouths. You should begin training your dog not to chew during puppyhood by giving him alluring dog treats, keeping shoes out of his reach and rewarding him for selecting an appropriate chew object over an inappropriate one. However, because chewing is so engrained in puppy behavior, it is unlikely that your puppy will stop chewing on shoes until he is done cutting adult teeth.

    Boredom and Anxiety

    Chewing burns off nervous energy and provides bored dogs with something to do. If your dog is home alone for long periods of time each day, he might be chewing out of sheer boredom. Keeping your dog in a crate, providing him with treat-releasing dog toys or hiring a dog walker can all help keep his boredom-related chewing at bay. Similarly, some dogs chew when they're anxious during storms and separations. If your dog is anxious and chewing, a crate is an absolute must that will provide him with the sense of security he craves.

    Smell

    Dogs are driven primarily by their noses, and dogs' sense of smell is a thousand to ten thousand times as powerful as humans' sense of smell. Even the slightest interesting smell can encourage your dog to chew on your shoes. Leather shoes may smell like food to dogs, and any shoe you've worn smells like you, making it instantly appealing. Shoes undoubtedly pick up a variety of interesting scents out in the world, and chewing on your shoes may just be your dog's way of figuring out what you've been doing all day.

    Attention

    If you yell at your dog when he chews on shoes, you may be teaching him that chewing is a great way to get attention. Dogs are quick learners, and if your dog learns that chewing a shoe gets a stronger reaction than, say, chewing a toilet paper roll, he's much more likely to take off running with your shoe. To prevent this kind of attention-seeking behavior, lavish your dog with attention when he's being calm or chewing on an appropriate toy. When he grabs a shoe, simply take the shoe without speaking or making eye contact and walk away.

    About the Author

    Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.

    Photo Credits

    • black labrador puppy chewing image by Scott Slattery from Fotolia.com