Dogs are fun companions, but they can find ways to get into trouble, especially while spending time at home alone. For instance, many dogs love to chew on things. Some dogs focus their chewing attention on toys and other items that are theirs, but other dogs prefer to chew on things like their owner’s shoes, which can be frustrating.
Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to stop your dog from chewing shoes in your house. But it’s a good idea to understand why your dog might be chewing on shoes before considering your options for stopping the behavior, as only then can you determine which ones are most likely to work.
Why Your Dog May Be Chewing on Your Shoes
There are a few different reasons that your dog might be obsessed with chewing on your shoes. For one thing, your shoes smell like you, so chewing on them can help make your dog feel closer to you when you’re away from the house or busy with other things rather than giving them attention. Here are a few other reasons that your shoes might be favorite chew toys for your dog.
Shoes Feel Like Chew Toys
Shoes tend to be pliable and flexible, much like a good chew toy. Therefore, your dog might simply think of your shoes as toys and treat them as such. There are also many fun components of shoes for a dog to appreciate, such as heels, shoelaces, emblems, rubber soles, insoles, and different kinds of fabric.
They Are Teething
All dogs go through a phase of teething during puppyhood and into adulthood. As their teeth grow in, their gums can feel irritated and sore, so the dog chews on things to relieve the pain. A shoe is just as good as anything else when it comes to chewing for teething relief.
They Have an Abundance of Energy to Get Rid Of
When a dog is full of pent-up energy, they are bound to get into trouble. Even if they know that they shouldn’t, they might just take the bait when a shoe is lying around and start chewing on it. They are simply trying to get rid of energy that’s making them feel stressed out.
Boredom Has Become a Problem
Dogs that don’t have much to do during the day can become bored and will do anything to relieve that boredom. Shoes may not be a dog’s first choice, but if there is nothing else to do around the house and outdoors are off-limits, any shoes lying around are likely to be fair game in their mind.
Separation Anxiety Has Developed
Destructive behavior is a sign for most dogs that experience separation anxiety. They may scratch at the walls, bark until your neighbors get frustrated, pee on the floor, or chew on your shoes. They can be destructive in multiple ways, but shoe chewing is common because of the scent that you leave behind on them.
The 11 Tips on How to Stop Your Dog From Chewing Shoes
Depending on the reason that your dog is chewing on shoes, not all of the following tips may work for your specific situation. However, you might just have to try more than one before finding the “golden ticket.” So, here are 11 tips for getting your dog to stop chewing on shoes.
1. Treat Your Shoes With a Deterrent
One easy way to stop your dog from chewing your shoes is to spray the shoes with a commercial anti-chew deterrent. It contains bitter flavors that dogs simply cannot stand. When you spray the deterrent on your shoes, chances are that your dog won’t even go near them. Every deterrent works differently, so read the instructions before choosing one to ensure that it will produce the results that you’re looking for.
2. Redirect Your Dog’s Attention
Sometimes, all it takes to stop a dog from chewing on shoes is to teach them that it’s not okay by redirecting their attention any time they do it. If you catch your dog chewing on a shoe, tell them, “No,” in a clear voice, then offer them a toy or something else that they can chew on instead. Eventually, your dog will figure out that they are not supposed to chew on shoes and that they should focus their attention on their toys and other belongings.
3. Reward & Reinforce Positive Behavior
When your dog starts listening and obeying after you tell them to stop chewing on a shoe, reward them for their good behavior with a treat or a cuddling/petting session. This will reinforce their obedience. Rewarding your dog for choosing a toy over a shoe when they have a choice (maybe the kids left their shoes in the living room right next to the toys!) will also help ensure that they go for the “safe” items over the shoes in the future.
4. Invest in Good Chew Toys
Nobody should expect their dog not to chew, as it’s not realistic. All dogs like to chew, even after going through the teething process. But if you don’t want your dog chewing on your shoes or anything else of yours, make sure they always have access to durable chew toys.
Kongs are effective options because they are extremely durable, even for the hardiest of chewers, and they also act like treat dispensers, so they can keep a dog’s attention for quite a while. The best way to make sure your dog doesn’t get bored with their toys is to switch them out every couple of days so there is always something new to play with and chew on.
5. Reclaim Your Shoes Whenever Possible
One way to deter your dog from chewing on your shoes is to reclaim them whenever you are there to witness the chewing. Walk right over to your dog and shoes, pick up the shoes, and let your dog know that the shoes are yours. Next, relocate the shoes to a new, less accessible location. These actions should take place every time you or a family member catches your dog chewing on shoes, or it won’t work in the long term.
6. Keep Your Shoes Out of Reach
Although this is an obvious method to consider when trying to stop your dog from chewing on shoes, following through with the method can be tricky. If kids are living in your household, it can be a challenge to get them to put their shoes away. If you’re running late for work or are exhausted after a long day, you may end up leaving a pair of shoes (or slippers) where your dog can easily find them.
Consider putting a tub with a lid in the living room by the front door where everyone can put their shoes when they come in the door. Your dog won’t be able to get into the tub, so your shoes will be protected. You can put tubs in the bathrooms and bedrooms too. It’s much easier to throw a pair of shoes in a tub wherever you happen to be in the house than it is to walk through the house to a specific closet, especially when you’re busy, distracted, or just plain tired.
7. Give Your Dog Their Own Pair of Shoes
Instead of throwing away old pairs of shoes, consider giving them to your dog to chew up and tear apart. This will give them the satisfaction of chewing on shoes without damaging the ones that you’re still using. But to not confuse your dog, you should only grant them access to “their” shoes outside or in rooms of the home where your own shoes cannot be found.
If you allow your dog to play with “their” shoes in the same area where your household shoes can be accessed, it could confuse them and make them believe that it’s okay to chew on or play with any shoes that they find. Allowing access to the shoes only when outside will create a clear boundary that they will understand as time goes on.
8. Limit Access to Certain Areas of the House
One way to keep your canine family member from chewing on shoes in the house is to limit where they can go. If shoes are generally kept in the bedrooms, make sure everyone keeps their doors closed when they aren’t around to supervise what’s going on. If shoes tend to get left in the family room, place a baby gate in the entryway to keep your dog from going in there unsupervised.
9. Enhance Your Dog’s Exercise Regimen
If your dog seems to have pent-up energy whenever you catch them chewing on shoes, clothes, furniture, or anything else that you don’t want them to, it probably means they need more daily exercise to satisfy their body and mind. Taking them out for an extra 15- to 20-minute walk, extending game time with toys in the house, playing an afternoon game of fetch in the yard, or heading to the dog park for a romp each day can help get rid of that extra energy and help mitigate destructive behavior.
10. Alleviate Separation Anxiety
If your dog shows signs of separation anxiety1, such as chewing on shoes, urinating in the house, excessive barking, pacing, and trying to escape from home, you should work to alleviate their anxiety, which in turn, will stop the unwanted behavior. An effective way to alleviate separation anxiety is to have a friend, family member, or dog sitter check in on your dog for a few minutes each day while you’re away at work. This will give them the company that they desire and make it easier for them to cope while they wait for you to get home.
You can also provide your dog with a puzzle toy to enjoy whenever you leave the house, as it will take their mind off of being alone and keep them from trying to chew on your shoes. Don’t make a production of leaving or entering your home either. Act casual so your dog is less likely to make a big deal about it.
Leaving out a blanket that has your scent on it for your dog to cuddle with while you’re gone can soothe and calm them until you return. Finally, consider investing in a calming supplement designed to minimize feelings of discontent, stress, and destructive behavior. Products like Pet Honesty Hemp Calming Chews do all these things and promote relaxation.
11. Work With a Trainer
If all else fails, it might be a good idea to find a professional trainer. Not just anyone will do, though. The person whom you decide to work with should be experienced in dealing with the specific issues that your dog has. For example, if your dog is suffering from separation anxiety, the trainer should work mostly on this issue rather than obedience or agility. Consider meeting prospective trainers in person with your dog to see how well they get along with each other and to learn about the trainer’s techniques, experience, and plans for your dog.
Getting your dog to stop chewing on shoes can seem like a big project to undertake. However, all it takes is a bit of understanding and multiple options to rely on to help you achieve your goals. If you are ever in doubt, though, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for help.
Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock