If your dog nibbles on your shoes a lot, you might be wondering why and what you can do about it. This post will show you five common reasons why dogs do it and what you can do to get it to stop.
Your dog could actually be doing it for a number of different reasons and it might be due to a combination of them. However, there are some things you can consider when figuring out the main causes and there are many things you can do about them.
Reasons why your dog nibbles your shoes
Below are a number of common causes and what would make each of them more likely to be the main reason why your dog has been doing it.
One possible reason why your dog has been doing it might be that it has been teething. This would be more likely if it is a puppy, it has started doing it suddenly and if it has been nibbling on other things a lot as well. In this case, it would help to give it other things to chew instead.
Encouraging the behavior
Another possible cause is that your dog has learned that it will get rewards if it nibbles your shoes. If you tend to give it things such as extra attention, toys or treats, when it nibbles your shoes, it will likely do it more in order to get more rewards. Instead, it would help to prevent it from damaging the shoes, ignore it and to give it attention when it calms down.
A part of the reason might also be that it is bored and looking for a way to stimulate itself. This would be more likely if it tends to do it more when it has not gotten any exercise. It would help to ensure that it is able to get the daily amount of recommended exercise for its age and breed.
It likes the taste
It is likely that your shoes will have a strong taste and smell to them due to the dead skin cells and sweat that will have built up on them. It could be the case that your dog nibbles the shoes because it likes the way they taste. This would be more likely if it nibbles other things that you use such as your pillow or your bed sheets.
It is also likely that your shoes have a strong scent on them. It might be the case that your dog has been nibbling on the shoes because they calm it down when you are away. This would be more likely if your dog only seems to be doing it when you are not around and when you are about to leave home. It would also be more likely if it also shows signs of being anxious when you are leaving home by doing things such as pacing or crying.
Things to consider
Below are things to consider when figuring out the main cause of the behavior.
What else happened when it first started doing it
If your dog has not always nibbled your shoes, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it. If it started doing it suddenly, it might be the case that it learned that the behavior gets rewarded, something might have caused it to start being anxious or it could have started teething.
What is different when it does it
If there is a certain time that your dog tends to nibble your shoes, it would also help to consider what is different about the timing.
For example, if it normally nibbles your shoes when you leave home, it would be more likely to be due to things such as separation anxiety.
Whereas, if it does it more when you have not been giving it much attention, it might be doing it because it knows it will result in you giving it attention.
The body language it shows
Another thing to consider would be the body language that it shows.
If it shows signs of excitement such as by wagging its tail, it would be more likely to be due to excitement and learning that the behavior is rewarded.
Whereas, if it shows signs of being anxious by doing things such as pacing, crying or shaking, it would be more likely that it does it due to something causing it to be anxious.
What to do about it
Below are a number of things you can do that will help get your dog to stop the behavior.
Avoid encouraging it
As mentioned above, it might be the case that it has learned that the behavior gets rewarded. Instead, it would help to reward it when it behaves the way you want it to and to avoid rewarding it when it does not.
Redirect its focus
It could also help to redirect its focus towards something else whenever it seems likely to start nibbling your shoes. Things to redirect its focus towards could include toys, a bone or a task to complete. It would help to try to redirect its focus before it starts doing it otherwise it might learn that the behavior gets rewarded.
Keep the shoes out of reach
Another thing to do would be to make sure to put your shoes in a location that is difficult to get to. Perhaps you could try keeping your shoes inside a basket that you put on top of something or you could put them inside a box with a lid.
Limit reasons why it might be anxious
It would also help to limit possible reasons why it might be being anxious. Ways to do so would be to ensure that the room it stays in is cool, quiet and that there is a space for it to lay down. It would also help to let it pee, eat and get exercise before leaving it.
Give it distractions
It would also help to give it things to be distracted with especially if it seems to be teething. Things you could give it would be toys, chews and bones.
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