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The Root of the Behavior
Often times, the root of the behavior is simply due to teething or an attachment to the teething process. By the latter, this means an attachment to chewing on things not like a bone or chew toy, but shoes, carpet, and pillows. These would be classified as destructive behaviors that would have otherwise stopped when the teething process was over. However, their fixation on chewing prevented this. Providing an alternative, such as an antler or chew toy, will reduce the damage they cause during this teething process, and can easily be removed from their environment in later years, hopefully not applying that need to chew into anything else. Even if they do, however, you can make adjustments to their behavior to stop chewing in general. Shoes in particular have a common attraction. The hard soles and leathery material make for good texture for dogs to chew on and the unique smells are easily sought out. In fact, chewing on material like this can clean the teeth and works well to make sure they maintain a high level of jaw strength so chewing in earlier years is considered pretty important to the development of a healthy mouth. In this way, it is important but what can you do to make it a fixation on a toy other than your important belongings? Separation anxiety is pretty common in canines and this can often translate into destructive behavior. An easy way to tell if this is the cause of the destructive behavior is simply to figure out when they do their destruction. If the damage only occurs while no one is home, and you come home to your shoes torn up and strewn about the place, then separation anxiety is a likely culprit. Compulsive chewing behaviors are common in dogs that are particularly high strung and finding a way to reduce their general anxiety could save you a few pairs!
Encouraging the Behavior
Chewing things in general for canines has some medical benefits. It assists in keeping their teeth clean and jaw strong. Giving your dog something else to chew on, perhaps antlers or rawhide, will allow them to continue to keep their teeth clean while keeping your shoes intact. This will not reduce their need to chew, but it can change what they are chewing on. Dogs often chew in their later years out of habit or to relieve boredom. Essentially to say, they may be destroying your shoes simply because they have nothing better to do. An increased amount of exercise or toys around the house they enjoy can reduce their want to chew as that energy can be used and displaced into other outlets. Using antlers and suitable chew toys you may find to be your best approach, especially during their younger years. Introducing new animals or people into their environment can increase stress and lead to compulsive behaviors such as chewing to become more common. Having a safe environment for them to retreat to such as a dog bed or kennel, in an area removed from the high trafficked areas of your home, can reduce this stress and keep your dog from eating all your things!
Other Solutions and Considerations
If your dog is in his younger years, chewing is a natural part of the teething process. It can reduce the general pains of that growing process. This will typically pass with time and as they grow older will likely drop the habit naturally and all together. In older dogs, it is likely due to the teething process. If this is the case, it will likely pass with time and no action needed from you. Hiring a behavioral specialist or dog trainer can help you to determine the cause of these behaviors and the right steps to removing them going forward.
Chewing on shoes, carpet, furniture, and other household items is a common issue with dogs, especially during their formative years. As time goes on, if these behaviors persist, then some basic training techniques can quickly correct these behaviors. Contact a behavioral specialist to determine your best steps forward! Good luck!