You’ve probably noticed your dog chewing on shoes occasionally. I didn’t make a thing out of it when I first noted this behavior in my dog—Russel. He’d grab one of them and start chewing whenever I removed my shoes.
Sometimes he’d grab a pair of old Crocs and chew on them. It got me wondering about my dog’s incessant obsession with shoes.
After some extensive research, I wrote this guide to help other pet owners understand why do dogs like shoes.
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Possible Reasons Why Dogs Like Shoes
Apparently, there are many reasons dogs like shoes so much. The primary reason is that they love the smell. In fact, the smellier the shoe, the better.
Leather shoes are notorious for retaining the owner’s original scent, and sniffing or chewing the shoes helps dogs feel closer to you. Other reasons dogs like shoes are:
1. Shoes Provide Relief During Teething
Your pup may feel pain when teething, and shoes provide a soft surface they can chew to relieve pain. Sometimes younger dogs find chewing on shoes fun and may carry on with the habit even after the teething stage. It’s best to nip it in the bud early by providing alternative chew toys or saying a firm ‘no.’
2. Your Shoes are Accessible
If your shoes are readily accessible, they may become the perfect toy for your dog to use for play. This is common among dog parents whose closets are always open or who store shoes in low places. And if you allow your dog to access your shoes, they may assume it’s okay to use them as toys.
3. Your Dog Is Seeking Attention
Your dog may feel neglected, and chewing shoes is the best way to communicate the lack of quality time. In this case, they’re likely to cling to or bite on the shoes while you’re wearing them. It would help if you were attentive to their body language and affectionate when dealing with them; otherwise, they may develop other destructive behavior.
4. Shoes Are the Perfect Cuddle Buddy
Your shoes could also provide the perfect cuddle buddy for your dog. Dogs love lying on the floor; if your shoes feel soft and fluffy, they become the best napping surface. You can break off the behavior early by taking the shoes to their sleeping area.
5. To Relieve Stress
A dog may chew shoes when stressed. It could be you’ve left your dog alone for long hours or are living in an environment with stressors like loud noise and chewing shoes help cope with the anxiety. In this scenario, they will chew on anything, not just shoes.
Identifying the main causes of stress goes a long way in solving the problem.
6. Relieve Boredom
Another reason dogs chew shoes is because they’re bored. Extremely active dog breeds like Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, and Labrador Retrievers get bored quickly and indulge in destructive behavior like chewing shoes to keep busy. Buying new toys occasionally and playing with them regularly could keep such habits at bay by keeping them active and fascinated for extended periods.
7. Dog Has Separation Anxiety
Dog breeds like the German Shepherd, Bichon Frise, and the Australian Shepherd are more susceptible to separation anxiety than other dog breeds. When left alone for extended periods, they come off as clingy to their dog owners and are likely to express anxiety by chewing on objects, including shoes.
Since your shoes have your scent, they feel close to you whenever they chew or cling to them. Your dog is likely to leave the shoe the moment they see you.
8. A Streak of Rebellion
Dogs are fond of exploring things, or habits deemed forbidden, especially if they elicit a certain reaction from their dog parents. Dogs are highly alert and in tune with the owner’s facial expressions, emotions, and physical reactions.
As such, if they know you’ll get angry or play with them when they chew on your shoes, they’re likely to indulge in the habit regularly. Identifying the root cause of their rebellion could help solve the problem. It could be they’re in their rebellious stage (5-18 months), you’ve a highly active dog breed, or you’re reinforcing the bad habit.
Whatever the case, it’s important to deal with the problem early by training them.
Is it Safe For Dogs to Chew on Shoes?
It isn’t safe for dogs to chew on shoes. Some shoes, like those made from leather, contain chemicals that can cause health problems. If your dog ingests a piece of the shoe, look for symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, appetite loss, or weakness.
They may wear out over time if they don’t visit a vet clinic.
How to Stop a Dog from Chewing on Shoes?
You don’t want to buy a new pair of shoes every week or month because your dog chews on them. Here are ways to stop them from indulging in destructive behavior:
Keep Your Shoes Out of Reach
If your shoes are readily accessible, keep them out of sight to prevent your dog from chewing on them. You can install a closet door, keep it locked, and store shoes in shoeboxes or on raised shelves.
Buy Chew Toys
When you find your dog chewing on shoes, use chew toys to create a distraction. Take away the shoe and hand out the toy.
Keep the Dog Active
If your dog isn’t getting enough exercise or is too idle, they’re likely to indulge in destructive behavior like chewing shoes. Keeping them active through regular exercise, daily walks, and play can stop the behavior. Create a routine to help your dog forget about the habit.
Avoid Rewarding Your Dog’s Behavior
Sometimes dogs indulge in destructive behavior to draw your attention. Giving a firm ‘no’ or ‘stop’ should stop him from chewing shoes. And if he follows your orders, give them a treat as a reward.
Purchase Teething Toys
If your dog is chewing on shoes due to teething, it’s best to buy chew toys for teething. They’re soft enough and malleable, providing the perfect surface for your dog to chew. Some chew toys are frozen to help ease gum pain.
Be sure to buy harder rubber toys as the dog matures to prevent him from resuming the destructive behavior of chewing on shoes.
Visit a Vet
Your dog may become obsessed with chewing on shoes, and the remedies discussed so far may be ineffective. If that’s the case, it’s best to visit a vet. They’ll identify the primary cause of your dog’s obsession and recommend a suitable remedy.
So, Why Do Dogs Like Shoes So Much?
Dogs like shoes so much for many reasons, but the main one is they love the smell. Dogs have a strong sense of smell and can identify your scent from afar. Typically, the scent is potent in your shoes and provides comfort for the dog, knowing that you aren’t too far from them.
It could also be your shoes are readily accessible, your dog is teething, looking for attention, or relieving stress and boredom. It’s best to address the problem early before your dog becomes obsessed with chewing on shoes.