You’ve lusted after them for months… You’ve imagined all the outfits you could wear them with… And finally your new Jimmy Choo high heels adorn your feet! The leather smells divine and they are now definitely your favourite pair of footwear.
One morning you awake to hear teeth grinding away. It’s probably just your pup chewing on his Nylabone…. You look down adoringly at your pooch to say good morning and there he is – the heel of your brand new Jimmy Choos resting in his mouth. The heel that was once smooth, now has jagged little teeth marks and tiny holes punctured into the once pristine leather.
You feel anger surging but there’s nothing you can do because at the end of the day, it was kind of your fault!
A pair of red Jimmy Choos - Image courtesy of Thomas Hawk, Flickr.
Why do dogs chew shoes?
Chewing is a natural behaviour for dogs, particularly puppies because they explore the world with their mouths and release teething pain by gnawing on hard objects. Most of the time dogs will chew designated chew toys such as bones and dental chew toys. Sometimes, despite how many toys there are around them they’ll reach for an object that is not a nominated chewing item, like your brand new shoes.
If you play and exercise with your dog regularly then this behaviour could be due to a few other reasons:
- They're bored of the dog toys they have.
- Something about the item is better than the toys, perhaps texture or size.
- He wants the attention.
- It helps him to feel close to you (smell or taste).
- He has an eating disorder like Pica that causes him to eat non-edible items.
Each of these motives must be approached using different but similar methods.
How to stop a dog chewing shoes
There is one resounding and obvious answer to the question – keep them out of your dog’s reach! At all times possible keep your shoes and other items out of the way of your dog. Of course, this is not always practical or doable. You don’t want to hide shoes every time you walk through the front door and some items such as furniture cannot be put away.
The second answer is to change your dog’s behaviour. Your dog won’t just chew items to ‘get back at you’. It’s an action that has been learned because he has never been corrected or it’s a behavioural issue, like separation anxiety, that needs to be tackled.
He’s bored of the toys he has
This is something that any human can relate to. For example, why do you need to get a new dress when you already have plenty in the cupboard? Well, you’re simply bored of the ones you already have and, to you, they don’t seem good enough!
Bored of the toys he has! - Image courtesy of Kerry Lannert, Flickr.
This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy your dog a new toy every week. In fact this method will save you money because each toy you buy will have a longer life!
- Make sure you have several different toys that you know your dog loves.
- Each day make sure your dog has only two or three toys.
- Every other day take away the ‘old’ toys put them away in a cupboard and replace with two or three ‘new’ ones.
- Keep rotating the toys every week so your dog always feels like he has new and exciting toys on offer.
Something about the item is better than the toys
If your dog seems to always chew things of a similar texture, size or perhaps taste; consider what toys you can buy that are similar. Don’t fall into the trap of just giving him old socks or old thongs to chew because this will confuse him further!
Try substituting these commonly chewed household items with these toys:
Replace leather shoes with a rawhide dog chew.
Replace a remote control with a hardnylon chew bone
Replace power cables with a rope toy.
Replace wooden furniture with a rubber chew.
Replace cushions with a tough fabric toy.
Replace bars of soap and scented candles with flavoured dental chews and edible bones.
He wants the attention
Your dog soon learns that when he chews up some things he gets more attention than chewing others…Even if it does result in him being yelled at. To your dog, this is still seen as attention.
When you catch your dog chewing on something you don’t want him to, avoid making a fuss:
- Calmly correct your dog by saying ‘No’ or ‘Bad’.
- Give your dog a designated chew toy.
- Praise him if he redirects his chewing to the toy.
- If he continues chewing the unwanted object and doesn’t begin chewing the toy, repeat from Step 1.
Unfortunately, if you are absent when the chewing has taken place, there’s not much you can do. It isn’t effective to punish your dog after the event has occurred because dogs only associate punishment with whatever they are doing at the time of being corrected.
If there are objects that cannot be moved you can try to prevent chewing by applying a bitter spray, which makes the object undesirable by making it taste awful.
Entertainment is the key to stop boredom! - Image courtesy of Kasi Metcalfe, Flickr.
It helps him to feel close to you
If your dog tends to chew things that smell like you such as clothes, favourite chairs or areas around the front door where you leave then they could be suffering with separation anxiety.
This isn’t a behaviour that can be easily changed and takes more consideration than just providing designated chew toys. For some advice on dealing with separation anxiety read Tony Knight’s article here and in extreme cases make contact with a dog behaviourist in your area.
He is suffering from Pica
Pica is an eating disorder that causes dogs to ingest non-food items. As puppies explore the world they often eat things that they shouldn’t. Correcting the behaviour whilst young by firmly saying ‘No’ and redirecting the chewing to toys should mean that it stops in adulthood.
If an adult dog is still eating non-food items regularly then they could be suffering with Pica. Firstly, as with any destructive chewing problem you have to ensure that you are:
- Providing plenty of designated chew toys including food related toys such as Kong toys or other treat dispensing toys.
- Stimulating your dog’s mind through games and training.
- Giving your dog enough physical exercise through walks and/or runs (depending on your dog’s requirements).
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) suggests a few ways to resolve Pica:
- Supervise your dog and prevent access to items that your dog may try to eat.
- Use a muzzle during walks to prevent him from picking up things on the floor (make they can still pant and drink water)
- Verbally correct the behaviour and redirect the attention to something else.
- Teach your dog to ‘leave it’ and ‘drop it’ then use these cues to stop him from eating objects.
- Use a bitter spray on objects that discourage your dog from putting certain things in their mouth.
If, however, the behaviour is obsessive compulsive then you will need to make contact with your veterinarian or an animal behaviourist. They may prescribe medication and a more detailed training plan.
Does your dog suffer from an eating disorder? - Image courtesy of Iain Farrell, Flickr.
Destructive chewing is not only annoying, it can also cause harm to your pooch if they chew through an electrical wire or swallow something that could cause a blockage. Consistently train them to only chew designated toys and always check that every toy is safe without loose or sharp pieces.
It can be infuriating to find out that your dog has chewed something in your house, especially when you feel as though you’ve done everything right! Just remember to be patient and loving with your dog and don’t be afraid to seek professional help because they might see something that you’re missing.
Amy is part of the My Pet Warehouse team. She is a copywriter, social media co-ordinator and a self-confessed pet lover. Amy shares a house in Melbourne with her partner and a rambunctious little Pug called Chowski. She has been writing professionally for two years but her love of writing began many years before.
You can find Amy on Google+