It's a question that has stumped dog owners for the ages, from the everyday pet owner to Bravolebrity: Why does my dog chew ________? (Something? Anything? Everything?)
Sure, the simple answer would be 'it's science' but there's more to the reason why he treats your Choos like chews. In a recent article published in Live Science, Colin Tennant, the chairman of the U.K. Canine and Feline Behaviour Association explains, "Dogs frequently chew things because they like the taste or the odor. In a home, the odors that the dogs find the most attractive are the human odors. People leave their shoes about, and the shoes have an intense smell."
That makes sense, if you think about how a dog may also want to eat other items that have strong human odors. (We won't come out and say it, but trust you can figure out what we're alluding to.) And, when it comes to the shoes in particular, this actually goes back thousands of years, long before we invited domesticated pets into our homes — animal smells appeal to the wild instincts of their ancestors. "Shoes are frequently made of leather, and that reminds the dog of animals," Tennant says. "Dogs eat animals. They are predators."
So is there any hope? Even if we checked off his entire wish list at Christmas?
Unfortunately, not all dogs like the same toys, or to the same degree. "The most common misconception people learn from the internet is that they just need to buy the dog some toys and [the chewing] would stop," Tennant explains. "It won't. A toy would smell of plastic, which is not necessarily a pleasant smell for a dog, [whereas] the shoe stinks of a human, which is a fantastic smell [for a dog]. They love it. There is no contest."
Another tricky thing is ... say you get your dog a pair of old shoes to chew or a leather toy, the pup can't tell the difference between that "good" toy and your good shoes. To keep a dog interested in any item, think of it like a game. Dogs like to play keep away so if you lunge after a shoe he's grabbed, that becomes a game in itself. And, if you return home hours later and see he's been playing munch the Manolos, it's too late to scold the pup. "Dogs live in the moment," Tennant adds. "If you scream at them half an hour after they destroyed something, the only thing they would learn is that sometimes you act nuts."
And, all those 'dog shaming' posts with dogs that seemingly feel guilty about their naughty actions, we hate to break it to you but they don't feel bad. One bit. Humans naturally want to assign 'guilt' to the look or behavior that may result after we scold a pup but it's not because the dogs understand what they've done. They can react to the sound of our voices and most pups do not like the angry scolding tone. The 'why' behind the scolding — and the knowledge to apply that to future scenarios — simply isn't there.
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