Whether you wear high heels, hardy work boots, flip flops, or smelly sneakers, if your dog has a shoe chewing issue, the style of the shoe doesn't matter. What matters is that shoes are a great item to chew, especially to a teething puppy. If you want to preserve your footwear, there are some steps that can be taken to eliminate the behavior.
Why Dogs Chew Shoes
Whether you have 20 pairs of shoes or just a few, you likely don't want your dog chewing up your footwear. To get the behavior to stop, you first need to get down to the root of the issue. Shoes are a great chew toy for dogs. They're long-lasting, provide mental stimulation, and can be chewed on for hours. Shoes are frequently available, whether neatly stored on a shoe rack or strewn around the house. A dog doesn't have to work hard to find one, especially if they aren't put away.
Shoes are also often intriguing and full of smells. You can smell your shoes if they're particularly stinky, but your dog can smell even more than you can. Not only does your shoe have your scent, but the scents of the many places you have visited.
Teething puppies are particularly attracted to shoes. A puppy who is teething will search out an item to gnaw on to relieve some of the pain from their teeth coming in. Similar to babies, it hurts for puppies when teeth come in. Babies have teethers to place in their mouths to ease the pain, whereas puppies have toys and chews, or in this case, shoes.
Anxiety or Stress
Dogs who are stressed or anxious may go for shoes to chew. If you have a dog who is feeling these emotions, perhaps because of a change in routine or separation anxiety, they may search out some type of object to relieve their mental anguish. Shoes can be a good distraction, but even so, it's not recommended to allow this behavior to continue.
Shoes Can Be Dangerous
Regardless of how many shoes you own, this isn't an item you should continue to allow your dog to have. Many owners may think, "well, they've chewed this shoe, so I may as well let them have this one and the other." But, not only are shoes an expensive chew toy, they can also be quite hazardous.
If your dog were to ingest a piece of the shoe, whether it's an actual part of the shoe or a shoelace, this could cause serious health complications. Depending on what was swallowed and how large the piece was, there could be a need for an emergency veterinary visit or even surgical intervention.
If your dog has ingested part of the shoe, or you're unsure if they did or not, monitor them closely for any changes in behavior, such as lack of appetite or lethargy, and give your give your vet a call.
How to Stop Your Dog from Chewing Shoes
To begin, you should place shoes in an area out of your dog's reach. Although this can be a frustrating task, it will prevent your dog from chewing shoes any further.
If you do catch your dog chewing on a shoe, it's important not to punish them. Rather, give them a firm, "No." Then, take the shoe away and replace it with a safe chew toy, such as a stuffed Kong. Bully sticks are also an excellent alternative and can provide them with plenty of chewing opportunity, but look for brands that are cooked to help ensure they are free of bacteria.
By replacing the shoe with an appropriate item, you are teaching your dog what is and is not appropriate to play with. The lack of punishment will also prevent your bond with your dog from being damaged.
Be certain to let your guests know about your dog's shoe attraction to prevent your dog from getting into their shoes and keep their footwear from being damaged. If your dog is anxious or stressed, adding more exercise to their routine can be incredibly helpful. Maintaining activity throughout the day, even if it's only for 20 or 30 minute increments, can reduce anxiety while providing mental and physical stimulation.
If your dog finds something else to chew, and appears to want to eat it rather than chew it, consider taking a trip to the vet. Pica is a condition that could cause your dog to want to eat objects other than food, or your dog might have a nutrient deficiency.
Chewing Shoes is Mostly Normal
Chewing shoes is a normal occurrence in most cases, especially for puppies. To protect your footwear and your dog, stay vigilant and work to redirect the chewing. This behavior can be overwhelming at times, but being patient and understanding is key. Be certain to replace the shoe with another appropriate item to chew. If you have any suspicion your dog has swallowed a piece of the shoe, or your dog may have an underlying issue, it's better to be safe than sorry and take your dog to the veterinarian.