You’re just back from a trip to the supermarket.
As you’re placing the shopping bags on the counter, you hear something coming from the room next door.
You walk into the hallway and see your dog’s head shaking ferociously from side to side as if he’s possessed.
Something’s in his mouth.
And it’s not Mr. Cuddles.
It’s not his half-eaten tennis ball either.
Is that what I think it is?
Yep, it’s your favorite pair of shoes.
And they’re in tatters.
Laces in a million pieces scattered all over the floor.
He’s even managed to devour the soles of your shoes.
Sigh This is the third pair of shoes I’ve bought in two months.
I can’t leave this dog alone for five minutes…
How do I get my dog to stop chewing and eating everything he gets his paws on?
If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation and want to learn how to stop it, you’re going to want to read on.
Table of Contents
Why Uncontrolled Chewing is a Serious Behavior Problem
So what are the challenges and potential dangers of having your dog eating everything?
Not only does your dog gnawing on everything create problems for you, but it can also be hazardous for your dog’s health.
- A dog that chews everything does not know boundaries
- It causes damage to property and cost
- It can be harmful to the dog’s health if they ingest the wrong things (our writer Bridie’s dog ate a condom once…)
Let’s begin with boundaries.
Allowing one problem (chewing) to happen often can lead to other issues down the line.
A dog that doesn’t have respect for personal space can result in them jumping on people while they’re sitting at the dinner table. They could walk in on and disrupt owners while they sleep, and even play-biting.
There’s a constant worry that your dog might accidentally scratch a friend or even a family member.
But that’s not all.
It can lead to the bottom of chairs destroyed, new shoes in tatters and couches covered in saliva and bite marks.
There’s no secret about it – having your furniture and personal belongings ripped to shreds by your dog sucks.
This can be hundreds of dollars of property damage.
But more importantly, if the dog ingests plastic shards, this can be extremely harmful. It can cause gut problems and make them sick.
Before you know it, your furniture is in tatters. You have racked up costly veterinarian bills, and your dog is unwell – not good.
Why does my dog always chew my shoes?
There can be a few reasons why your dog is chewing your shoes.
They might be under-stimulated physically and mentally. It could be out of boredom. Or it could even be that it is getting comfortable with its surroundings and taking liberties that they haven’t made before.
A bored dog is a destructive dog. Engage the physical side of your dog by exercising. Walks or playdates are ideal for burning extra doggy energy.
Some dog breeds need more exercise because they are naturally wired with more energy.
You also need to exercise the mind of your dog. Simple puzzle treats or a frozen Kong can distract and mentally stimulate your dog. See 35 indoor activities and games for dogs that are DIY or budget-friendly.
Another excellent distraction that physically AND mentally tires your dog is nose work. Nose work (aka scent training) takes advantage of one of the greatest assets your dog has. Its nose!
Dogs have a truly remarkable sense of smell. They LOVE to put their skills to use to track down treats or hides. Consider formal scent classes or get started simply with a DIY scent course like the one in this video.
3 Tips to Stop Dogs from Chewing Your Shoes:
ONE – Stop the chewing problem by never allowing it to start
The longer a behavior is practiced, the harder it is to stop it.
Instead of blaming the dog for chewing up furniture and toys, start by looking at your behavior.
Are you leaving shoes accessible for the dog? Do you have a habit of ignoring your dog when he wants to play?
It all starts with making a conscious effort as a dog owner to teach your dog good habits and reinforce good behavior.
TWO – Take away the shoes – restrict access to the shoes
The best way to stop your dog from chewing on your shoes is to keep them out of reach while you’re not supervising, even if only for a moment.
Every time your dog chews on your shoes, it reinforces that behavior and makes it a stronger habit.
Putting shoes in a closet or a different room and shutting the door so the dog can’t get in sets the dog up for success.
THREE Redirect behavior rather than punish (distract with chew toys)
Another way is to put your shoes in the room that you occupy the most.
Make sure you have toys that belong to the dog in the same room so you can redirect it to the toys every time it goes for the shoes.
If your dog ignores the shoes and goes for the toys, reward him with play or treats.
Why Does My Dog Chew Everything When I Leave the House?
Here are some critical questions to ask yourself to find out if you’re doing everything you can to raise a well-trained dog:
- How much exercise is your dog getting?
- Do you have enough puppy toys for it to play with?
- How often are you leaving your dog alone?
With those questions in mind, here are some reasons why your dog might be devouring everything in its sight when left alone.
Lack of toys
Do you have enough toys for your dog to play with? Are those toys left out, or are they stowed away in separate rooms where they don’t have access?
Consider getting more toys and leaving them scattered around the house.
Not mentally or physically exercised enough
Tired dogs are good dogs.
Having toys for your dog is excellent. It’s even better to use those toys and play a game like go-fetch for at least 30 minutes per day.
Going for a long walk can be enough to tire your dog out and calm him down. Without exercising daily, you run the risk of leaving your dog agitated, which then leads to acting out and chewing on everything.
Some dogs (like the energetic Goldendoodles) need more exercise than larger dogs like the Bernedoodle.
Separation anxiety (worry about being alone)
Dogs are social creatures, so being left alone isn’t the most pleasant experience for them.
Here are some ways to tell if your dog is experiencing separation anxiety:
- Excessive vocalization (out of control barking, whining, crying, howling)
- Inappropriate chewing and destruction
- Paw licking and chewing
- Excessive panting and pacing
Sometimes it will also depend on other factors like:
- Breeds: Some breeds are more prone to feeling separation anxiety. For example, German shepherds
- Changes: Changes in dog owners or moving to a new place.
- Health issues: It would be worth having a full physical done on your dog to rule out potential health issues.
How to stop a dog from chewing?
What would it feel like to have your dog trained so well that people would mistake it for a guide-dog?
Yes, behaved dogs are far and few between…but it’s not too late. Here’s what you can do to stop your dog from chewing:
Make sure they are exercised in the morning and tired
A tired dog is a happy dog.
Rigorously exercise your dog, so the most appealing way to spend the rest of their day is nap after you leave the house.
Remember, the more time they spend napping, the longer your doggy toys will last!
Give them brain exercise too.
The best way to stop thinking about something negative is to do things you enjoy. It’s no different for your dog.
Stimulate your dog by leaving them with fun games and their favorite toys when you leave.
It’s best to pick a ‘leaving toy’ which could be their favorite. Consider leaving our dog with long-lasting chews or a frozen Kong.
Consider using natural sprays that are distasteful to the dog but always spot test first.
Another way to stop your dog from chewing things is to use a natural spray that doesn’t taste so good to eat on.
You can spray it on things like shoes and even on furniture.
Something like Grannicks Apple Chewing Deterrent Spray can work wonders and might even save your next pair of shoes.
- Discourages fur biting, hair chewing and hot spots
- Can also be used to discourage chewing on shoes, clothing, pets beds, furniture, etc.
- Beware of copies as pets often acquire a taste for them; only Grannick's Bitter Apple keeps working
- Far and away the most recognized and best selling product of its kind in the world
- Simply spray problem areas to discourage chewing
We have a list of 5 DIY puppy chew sprays to try also (though bitter apple is typically the best).
Can medical problems cause a dog to chew?
If your dog suddenly starts chewing non-food items, the first thing you should do is take them to the veterinarian.
You want to rule out any medical causes before labeling it as a behavioral issue.
For example, certain GI conditions (gut problems) can lead to problems chewing. The reason dogs start chewing on everything if they have gut problems is to trigger vomiting, so they feel better!
Unless you visit a vet (or have read this article), then chances are you wouldn’t have known. Consider getting a professional to help diagnose the issue.
Undiagnosed pain can also cause excessive chewing as a problem. It’s not always the easiest to spot when they’re in pain, so it’s essential to look for sudden changes in behavior.
Things to look out for include loss of appetite, vomiting, and low energy, to name a few.
To have a well-trained dog, we have to start by looking at our behavior and ask important questions:
- Are we setting the dog up for a happy life?
- Have we got an expert opinion if we think there might be medical issues?
- Are we reinforcing positive behavior early on?
- Is your dog eating everything on walks?
If your dog suddenly starts chewing, he could be trying to tell you something so pay attention.
Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog. (And even an aggressive chewer can be tired out with chew toys0