Playful dogs, just at the cute puppy stage, love slippers. It is very amusing to see your new puppy running off down the passage with your slipper in his mouth. You decide to give chase and the game is on. Sometimes the slipper is almost as big as the puppy and your new little pooch looks so proud as he drags your slipper around like a trophy. Grabbing slippers is part of growing up as a puppy. The slipper provides something soft to chew on. Puppies cut teeth as they grow up and what could be better than a soft slipper to mouth on at that stage. Puppies also enjoy the feel of something fluffy to lie with and find your slipper the ideal comfort toy. It smells like you, you wear it often, and it is usually easy to find by your bed. Puppy behavior can be cute but what if your dog carries on with his slipper stealing habit? The fun and games of puppyhood become part of an annoying adult behavior and not so amusing any longer.
The Root of the Behavior
When your puppy grows up, and the behavior continues, then it can get rather annoying. There is a strong possibility that instinctive behavior is at the root of the problem. A lot will depend on the breed of dog you have. Finding soft toys, socks and slippers are perfect targets for retrievers and hunting dogs. Think about the breed of dog in your household and the work it is bred to do. While you are out of the house and there is nothing for a working dog to do, then slippers could be perfect for Fido to chew on! This is not a malicious act of destruction, but very often a cry for help and a need for some stimulation. The reason behind the slipper snatching could be a comfort and craving for security while you are away. Dogs do get lonely and need toys and chewy distractions. If you have not provided anything then your slipper might just be the best item to fill the loneliness gap. Slippers are overloaded with your scent and are soft and comforting. They are the perfect object to run off with and keep close by while you are away. Slippers are usually an easy pick for dogs and in families with several family members there will be an abundance of slippers to choose from. Storing them up in one place could be a slipper behavior you would want to watch. Hording and guarding a possession can lead to being over protective. It would be wise to break that habit before it gets out of hand. Make sure there are lots of different safe chew toys available while you are away. It can be a long day for a dog with no stimulation. In the wild, dogs were known to be scavengers and stored up food. This instinctive behavior could lead your dog to feel he has a need to go around the house collecting special items and storing them up for another day. Soft things that smell and taste like you are first prize. When you come home and find your slippers tucked away in Fido’s bed you could be tempted to give chase. What a treat, says Fido to himself, as that is just the reaction he had in mind. A bored, lonely dog would love nothing more than running around the house as you chase after him, and your slipper.
Encouraging the Behavior
Taking your slippers is not a harmful behavior but it could be a warning sign to you that your dog is bored, and bored dogs can become destructive. Seek out some ideas of ways to meet your dogs need for activity and exercise. The working and herding breeds of the dog world do need to be busy and active. When they are bored they will find objects to chew and tear up to satisfy the need for something to do. If you are their number one human, then your slippers are the perfect target. The reaction from you will be just what they were looking for. It is advisable not to give into the chase and get my slipper back routine as this will satisfy Fido’s need for attention. This is an opportunity to learn the leave and drop commands that will eliminate the chase. If you have other toys or a Kong product, then this is a great distracting alternative. Perhaps you can stay at home and need a four-legged house helper. Dogs can be trained to do amazing things and giving you a helping hand at home could be just one of those fun things Fido may enjoy doing with you. There are some really smart breeds of dogs that just thrive on having something to do! If you know your dog is needing a slipper or piece of your clothing as a comfort while you are away, then perhaps you can sacrifice one of your worn and torn slippers just to be a comforter. A little security for Fido to have and to hold while he thinks and dreams nice things about seeing you again.
Other Solutions and Considerations
You will probably find that your dog grows out of this behavior as puppyhood passes by and you are providing the right kind of stimulation at home. Your dog will settle down into a pleasant homely routine and as the saying goes: "Old dogs like old shoes (or slippers) are comfortable. They might be a bit out of shape and a little worn around the edges, but they fit well." Bonnie Wilcox. Author of Old Dogs, Old Friends. Knowing your dog has eased into family life and the slipper thief has just become part of the furniture is a comforting thought. Dogs do just want to be part of the family and will keep you loving their antics from the playful puppy stage to the mature adult. If the slipper chewing becomes destructive and you feel it has gone beyond playful activities, then seek for some help from a behaviorist and see if there is a way to change your dog’s mind and focus on an alternative game. Spending more time with your dog is always going to be a good investment.
Dogs are notoriously fond of slippers. It is probably their best attention seeking trick. Your cute and fluffy canine, running off with your new pair of slippers, is bound to attract attention. Even Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of New York billionaire and animal advocate, has something to say about slippers: "I love slippers, but I have five dogs so unfortunately, I have a lot of single slippers!" Mad as it may make you at the time, chasing after your slippers is probably the best exercise you and your dog will get around the house.