How to Train Your Dog to Stop Chewing Shoes

Medium
2-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Tired of getting up in the morning to find your pup has turned yet another shoe into a new chew toy? Well, you're not alone. Thousands of dog families around the world face this same problem every day. Your shoes have a lot to offer your pup--they are a great thing for him to chew on and best of all, they smell just like you!. What you might not realize, is that your dog probably feels pretty guilty after destroying your shoe, after all, he really didn't mean to, he just wanted to chew on it a little. Of course, one of the easiest ways to do this is to make sure everyone puts their shoes away. The only problem with this is getting everyone in the house to cooperate. 

Defining Tasks

The idea here is pretty simple, you want your dog to stop chewing on everyone's shoes. If you keep yelling at him, all you will do is make him more agitated than ever and most likely make the problem worse. Try instead to identify the reason your pup is chewing in the first place. There are three common reasons why most dogs chew, they are teething, they are bored, or they are anxious about something. Once you know why he is chewing, you can determine the right way to train him not to. Bear in mind, the only time you should discipline your dog for chewing on your shoes is if you actually catch him in the act. Beyond this, you simply have to let him know that chewing on shoes is not an acceptable way for him to behave. 

Getting Started

It doesn't take much to get started training your pup not to chew on shoes. However, you will need the cooperation of everyone in the house. They need to work with you to keep their shoes put away where the dog cannot reach them during the training period. You are also going to need a decent supply of your pup's favorite treats and plenty of time and patience. Chewing is a natural behavior in young pups as they teethe. But, chewing on your shoes is never an acceptable behavior. The hardest part of this training is catching your pup in the act. 

The Set for Success Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start with an evaluation
Start out by learning everything you can about your dog's chewing habits. Does he chew at night when everyone is asleep, or does he chew during the day when no one is at home? Or is he still a puppy and teething? The more you learn about why he is chewing on your shoes, the easier it will be to train him not to.
Step
2
Buy plenty of chew toys
By now your dog should already have a few chew toys. But, even if he does, go out and buy him a selection of new toys and chews. Since your pup is already attracted to the leather of your shoes, you can buy a few animal product chews. Be sure to rotate the toys every once in a while to help keep your pup from getting bored with them.
Step
3
Manage the situation
Managing the situation is an important part of the training. This means having everyone put their shoes out of your pup's reach, especially during the training period. Chances are good that if there are no shoes for him to chew on, he will find his toys more appealing.
Step
4
Teach him to 'leave it'
Put a shoe in the middle of your living room floor and sit next to it. When your dog comes over to investigate the shoe, cover it with your hands and say, "Leave it!" in a firm voice. If he backs or turns away from the shoe, tell him he's a good boy and give him a treat.
Step
5
Finalize the concept
Now try putting the shoe down and walking away from it. Your pup may see this as you "giving" him the go-ahead to pick up the shoe. The moment he moves towards it, turn around and give him the 'leave it' command. As soon as he complies, give him lots of praise, a treat, and maybe a nice "bone" to chew on. The more you can redirect his attention to his chew toys and away from your shoes, the less likely you are to have this problem.
Recommend training method?

The Remove and Replace Method

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Step
1
Clean up the house
Start by going around the house and putting away everyone's shoes in places your pup can't reach. This can include closets, high shelves, baskets with lids, just places your pup cannot get into.
Step
2
Remind your guests
Tell guests to do the same and provide them with space to do so in a convenient closet. This will protect their shoes and keep your pup out of trouble.
Step
3
Place toys
Place a selection of your pup's favorite chew toys out on the floor to distract him and keep him busy. When he picks one to chew on instead of a shoe, praise him and give him a treat.
Step
4
Replacement theory
If you happen to leave a shoe out and your pup starts chewing on it, don't scold him. Instead gently take the shoe away and replace it with a chew toy.
Step
5
Rinse and repeat
You will need to keep doing this every time you catch your dog chewing on an illegal shoe. It can take several weeks before your pup finally gets the idea his chew toys are for him to chew on, not your shoes.
Recommend training method?

The Prevention Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Start by preventing access
Use a crate, gates, and when supervised, a tether to help prevent your pup from being able to sneak off and chew on a shoe or two in private. At the same time, be sure he has plenty of his own chew toys to gnaw on. Keep your shoes put away out of his reach.
Step
2
Not so tasty
There are special sprays you can get that won't harm your shoes, but they will definitely discourage your pup from wanting to chew anything you have sprayed it on. Use all-natural sprays like bitter apple, avoid any with ingredients you can't pronounce.
Step
3
Provide lots of alternatives
Be sure that there is always plenty of chew toys laying around for your pup. Rotate them regularly to reduce boredom. You can buy sprays to apply to his toys that will make them appear to be much tastier than your stinky old shoes.
Step
4
Give treats
Give your dog treats any time you catch him chewing on his toys instead of your shoes. The more you do this, the faster he will learn to stick to his chew toys and bones.
Step
5
Drop it!
Any time you catch your pup chewing on a shoe, give the command "Drop it!" and offer him a treat in exchange. Then follow this up with plenty of repeat training to help reinforce the behavior and prevent him from chewing on your shoes in the future.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Honey
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel / poodle
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Honey
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel / poodle
1 Year

She keeps eating shoes and she goes to bathroom in the house.

I’ve tried to say “No” and put her in the crate after she eats a shoe or uses the potty but she continues to do it.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
236 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am sending you quite a bit of information on potty and crate training just in case you want to use the crate to help with potty training. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

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Question
Chata
Border Collie
2 Months
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Question
0 found helpful
Chata
Border Collie
2 Months

She has bite inhibition down and for the most part she won't bite hard but lately she's been going after my pants and especially my shoes and feet and biting down, not even a yelp gets her to let go. How can I stop her from biting on my pants, shoes and socks.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
916 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lupe, I would start teaching her the Leave It and Out commands. Once she knows Leave It, practice specifically with articles of clothing that you can wiggle around and put on your hands. Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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