Does your dog chew your shoes and other accessories? Do you find that leather items are the most adored? Especially if you have a female dog. It’s because she can tell the difference between vinyl and Italian leather. And why wouldn’t she? She’s a girl. It’s not hard for her to tell the difference between a pair of Manolo’s and Vans. If you ever bought her a cow hoof, though, you may be tempted to let your dog chew your shoes again! After about 15 minutes of having this delightful chew toy in the wet jaws of your furry charge, you’d think you were "livin’ in a home on the range." I mean, the first time I brought one home I got whiplash just looking for the buffalo in my living room. Well… if a dog would even consider chewing on something that smells like livestock dung, why wouldn’t they want leather?
How to fix this addiction? Start by disciplining this behavior when you’re home by setting up the trigger, waiting, watching, and then when your dog goes for the shoes – take action! The first thing you’ll want to do is blow up two small balloons for every pair of shoes that might be left out or accessible to your dog. Then, placing a balloon-filled shoe next to you on the sofa or in your chair – wait until your dog comes in close for examination and pop the balloon with a pin while saying firmly, "LEAVE IT!" When your dog backs off, hide the shoe on the other side of you and reward your dog for complying by offering love and praise. Implement this exercise as often as you can until it’s clear that Fido got the message and won’t come near you if a shoe is anywhere in the vicinity.
Then, to test the success, keep a couple of pair of inexpensive shoes, (that your dog is known to like chewing on), around the house with balloons in them. Most likely you’ll come home to find that no shoe has been touched. Remember that you don’t want to scare your dog, you just want to create a negative association with the behavior of chewing shoes… or anything else for that matter such as socks, pillows, remote controls, sunglasses and other small objects. Also, make sure that you’re offering plenty of "dogpropriate" chew toys in-between to keep the shoe cravings under control.
If your schedule is too tight for training, or your brain is more wrapped up in stilettos than where you last put them, the other alternative would be to confine your dog to an area of the house where he or she has no access to shoes or small objects.
“I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes. I had one thousand and sixty.” - Imelda Marcos
-Written by Colleen Paige. With over two decades of expertise as a dog trainer and animal behaviorist, Colleen teaches people to be kind to their dogs using love and leadership in combination with “speaking” dog language. A columnist for Fido Friendly and regular guest expert for many national magazines, TV and radio programs, she also founded National Dog Day, (August 26th)! Check out Colleen's new book, The Good Behavior Book for Dogs.