Features May 2009 Issue

How to Stop Your Dog From Chewing All of Your Shoes

Five things to do when your dog chews up your shoes.

For almost any challenging dog event there are at least five relatively easy things you can do to defuse the crisis and reduce the likelihood of a return engagement of the unwanted behavior. “Action Plan” is a new column that will offer five simple solutions for one common undesirable dog behavior. Feel free to suggest your favorites!

Here are five things to do about the dog who chews up your shoes:

1. Breathe

Even if your dog still has your $600 pair of leather Gladiator sandals in his mouth, take three deep breaths to calm yourself. Then grab a high-value treat out of the plastic container of treats that you keep handy in every room of the house – you do, right? – and quietly trade him for the shoe. Tell him he’s a good boy when he gives up the sandal for the treat, and absolutely resist the urge to punish him! You’ll get your shoe back faster, with less damage, if you cheerfully trade for it rather than chasing him around. If you punish him, it’ll be that much harder to get the next shoe back. (See “Thanks for Sharing,” Whole Dog Journal September 2001.)

problem dog behavior

Remember, some problem dog behavior is actually a human behavior problem. Itís your responsibility to manage your dogís environment so he has few opportunities to do things that make you unhappy. Put those shoes in the closet and close it!

2. “Dog-Proof”

...the house for items you really don’t want him to chew. Put your shoes in a closet and close the door. It really can be that simple. Often, management is the answer, rather than training.

3. Restrict

Limit your dog to smaller, more dog-proofable areas if you can’t dog-proof the whole house: Prevent your dog’s access to any areas where tempting, chewable footwear might be left lying about. Use baby gates, tethers, doors, and leashes to restrict his activities to dog-proofed areas or, if necessary, to the “right under your nose” zone. (See “Upper Level Management,” October 2001.)

4. Get Him Some Appropriate Chew Things

“Appropriate” means things that are safe, reasonably healthful, and that he likes. If he doesn’t chew what you’ve already bought him, keep searching until you find things he does chew. Not every dog loves hard plastic ersatz bones. Remember that leather shoes are just treated animal hide – not so very different from a pig ear or any of the other animal-parts chewies now on the market. A Pizzle makes a fine alternative to shoe leather. Stuffed Kongs are high on the “appropriate chew things” list. You can create stuffing recipes to tempt all but the most finicky of chewers.

If you have a dedicated chewer get him a black Kong – they are the toughest. Thick raw carrots can also make great chew toys.

5. Increase His Exercise

That’s mental exercise, by the way, as well as physical exercise. Unless you’re walking a marathon, remember that an on-leash walk is a mere exercise hors d’oeurve for a dog. A walk is a nice social outing, but exercise means when you get done he plops to the floor, stretches out on his side, happily panting, for a long nap.

So, it’s a rousing game of fetch, with you standing on top of the hill and tossing the ball down to the bottom. It’s an invigorating round of tug, or an off-leash hike in the hills with your dog running circles around you. Mental exercise is positive training that encourages your dog to think. My personal favorite for mental exercise is shaping. (See “The Shape of Things to Come,” March 2006; and “A Puzzling Activity,” June 2008.)

Pat Miller is Training Editor of Whole Dog Journal.

Comments (12)

Me and my family have a 1 year old Labrador and America Bulldog mix. She is a sweetie and we love her. But she lately has been eating my mom's favorite expensive shoes. My mom is running out of shoes and it is usually just my mom's shoes she has been chewing on.

My mom has tried everything, but our dog just won't stop. We never catch the dog in the act, but we find the shoes after she chews on them. My mom is at her breaking point. Our dog has chewed $200 worth of shoes.

What should we do?

Posted by: Ybbag08 | September 4, 2016 12:20 PM    Report this comment

I feel for you...we had the same problem with our dog also: nipping, scratching. Well, you can find guides that solve this and other training issues. Be careful tho, most of the information on the internet is totally useless. Both my husband and I work a lot and had no time to take our Bud to dog training classes. We asked one friend who works in foster care (he is always surrounded by dogs) what we should do. He recommended one online dog behavior trainer. I love this trainer http // bit.ly / 1QfdUHX
It helped us a lot, and I strongly recommend it for you.

Posted by: Katelyn | August 25, 2016 11:23 PM    Report this comment

Hello Liza. I usually don't write comments; I just read what people are talking about :) But I feel for you...we had problems with our dog also. He used to chew shoes, bed etc when we were not at home. Both my husband and I work a lot and had no time to take our Bud to dog training classes. We asked one friend who works in foster care (he is always surrounded by dogs) what we should do. He recommended one online dog behavior trainer. I love this trainer h t t p://b i t . l y / 1WFtYpt
It helped us a lot, and I strongly recommend it for you.

Posted by: Jennifer74 | October 25, 2015 6:35 PM    Report this comment

Ooops sorry about the multiple posts.. connection problem :-)

Posted by: Liza F | October 25, 2015 6:22 PM    Report this comment

Hello everybody, I have a big problem. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he chews things A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us.
My husband and I were thinking about taking him to 'doggy school', but then again, it's extremely expensive, and the nearest 'doggy school' is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

Posted by: Liza F | October 25, 2015 6:20 PM    Report this comment

Hello everybody, I have a big problem. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he chews things A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us.
My husband and I were thinking about taking him to 'doggy school', but then again, it's extremely expensive, and the nearest 'doggy school' is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

Posted by: Liza F | October 25, 2015 6:17 PM    Report this comment

Hello everybody, I have a big problem. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he chews things A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us.
My husband and I were thinking about taking him to 'doggy school', but then again, it's extremely expensive, and the nearest 'doggy school' is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

Posted by: Liza F | October 25, 2015 6:17 PM    Report this comment

Hello everybody, I have a big problem. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he chews things A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us.
My husband and I were thinking about taking him to 'doggy school', but then again, it's extremely expensive, and the nearest 'doggy school' is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

Posted by: Liza F | October 25, 2015 6:17 PM    Report this comment

Hello everybody, I have a big problem. I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he chews things A LOT. . So, leaving home is always a challenge for us.
My husband and I were thinking about taking him to 'doggy school', but then again, it's extremely expensive, and the nearest 'doggy school' is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!

Posted by: Liza F | October 25, 2015 6:17 PM    Report this comment

I have been a canine behaviorist/trainer for more than 25-years. The simplest and most effective method I have used to control a puppy or dog's chew habits is this: Spray the inside of a pair of shoe with men's original scent Right Guard Deodorant or dust inside of shoes with corn starch based, lavender scented baby powder. Most canines avoid the smell of the deodorant and can't deal with the taste or texture of baby powder. This technique has worked for most of my clients especially those that can't keep an eye on their valuables 24/7. I even sprayed the cuffs of children's pant legs to get the puppy/dog to stop or curtail herding behavior.

Posted by: Savvy Canine | August 22, 2015 11:55 AM    Report this comment

I didn't think I'd ever say this, but.... I managed to train my puppy to STOP chewing! "The Online Dog Trainer " (visit: TrainDogsOnline DOT org ) is a WONDERFUL resource for learning how to effectively and quickly train your dog without ever leaving home. I learned great ways to teach my dog almost every single trick imaginable and how to correct the most common behavioral issues, such as barking. It is full of carefully compiled videos that allow you to watch and listen to their expert solving the exact problem you're having with your dog, with another real dog and its owner. You can see the precise body language he uses, how the tone of his voice changes, and how the dogs respond, changing their behavior almost immediately. It's remarkable to see how quickly my dog picked up on these methods. My dog behaves PERFECTLY now! From what I understand, the information on that webiste works for any age or breed of dog. I feel blessed to know my dog is trained properly and effectively :) Gotta love the Internet!

Posted by: AndreaNeil | August 19, 2015 12:31 AM    Report this comment

I didn't think I'd ever say this, but.... I managed to train my puppy to STOP chewing! "The Online Dog Trainer " (visit: TrainDogsOnline DOT org ) is a WONDERFUL resource for learning how to effectively and quickly train your dog without ever leaving home. I learned great ways to teach my dog almost every single trick imaginable and how to correct the most common behavioral issues, such as barking. It is full of carefully compiled videos that allow you to watch and listen to their expert solving the exact problem you're having with your dog, with another real dog and its owner. You can see the precise body language he uses, how the tone of his voice changes, and how the dogs respond, changing their behavior almost immediately. It's remarkable to see how quickly my dog picked up on these methods. My dog behaves PERFECTLY now! From what I understand, the information on that webiste works for any age or breed of dog. I feel blessed to know my dog is trained properly and effectively :) Gotta love the Internet!

Posted by: AndreaNeil | August 19, 2015 12:31 AM    Report this comment

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