Nikki, of Dallas, TX asks:
My dog is a female springer spaniel/pit bull mix. She is 2.5 years old, spayed, and is generally very well-behaved. Occasionally – perhaps once every 3-4 months- she will chew up one of my shoes. Why does she do this, and how can I stop it?
Unfortunately, with any issue that is this intermittant, it can be REALLY hard to figure out why something happens. Keeping a record of the time that it happens and as many things surrounding the issue as possible may help you isolate a factor or group of factors that is leading up to the behavior- but it may not! (this is true for ANY behavior problem). So figuring out what triggers the behavior may or may not be possible. With a log, you may discover that it happens only on days when there is thunder, or men mowing the grass, or some other external circumstance. If that’s the case, just make sure the shoe are picked up on that day (or your dog is not left home alone!), and the problem should resolve itself.
Dogs chew for a number of reasons. It’s fun, it’s comforting, and it just feels good. Shoes are a favorite snack of lots of dogs. They smell like mom or dad (mom or dad’s stinky foot-smell is probably a bonus, given dogs’ general standards for ‘good’ smells- most dogs like nothing better than to roll in something dead and rotting. Ugh.) and leather is a nice chewy material- it’s even sort of like rawhide bones! So while we can’t say for sure why she’s chewing, I suspect it’s more a matter of “Why not?” when she’s stressed or upset- or just bored.