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Shoes Our Dogs Have Chewed

Most people have a story to tell
By Karen B. London PhD, July 2018, Updated June 2021
dog chewing shoes

It’s an unfortunate part of the association between our two species, but we seem to have different uses for shoes. We humans value them for keeping our feet warm, covered and fashionable. Dogs consider them convenient chew toys. “What luck—I always seem to find one of these just when I need it!” Obviously, part of raising a puppy involves teaching her that shoes are off limits and that she must stick to antlers, Kongs, Nylabones, cow hooves, bones and anything else that is a designated chew item. Just as obvious is the fact that keeping our footwear out of reach of our dogs makes life easier for us. This commonsense way of preventing trouble is sometimes the only way to save our shoes if our dog has a particularly strong interest in them.

I’ve never had a dog who was a voracious chewer of shoes, but I have still sustained some damage. One flip flop strap was damaged by a puppy and even though she didn’t chew it all the way through, the rough edge of the damaged section gave me a blister. That shoe was ruined for regular use, and now that pair is just a spare for running to the mailbox.

I also have in my possession a snow boot with a tongue in dreadful shape. The boots are still warm and I wear them, but right one is not as structurally sound as it once was. It is more inclined to let my foot get wet than its mate. Some shoelaces in this house have been trimmed, but not for our convenience. I consider it good news if the only part of a shoe that has been damaged by a dog’s mouth is the shoelace. They are easy enough to replace and not overly expensive. I came to terms with the temptation of shoelaces years ago due to one dog in our home who sniffed them out repeatedly. She presented us with the important and worthwhile challenge of keeping our shoes inaccessible. In a two-month period, she destroyed four shoelaces before we all really got the hang of keeping our shoes out of her way.

Overall, we have suffered very little shoe damage courtesy of dogs. Most people I know have not been so lucky. It seems far more common to have dogs chew our very best, favorite and most expensive shoes. Often, that is because the leather of expensive shoes really seems to attract dogs. Also, leather boots have so much juicy leather that they are an extra temptation for dogs.

Do you have any experiences with dogs and shoes that you’d like to share?

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life