The age-old belief is that dogs like stinky feet. It can only seem like the logical explanation for why our dogs seem to be obsessed with our shoes. They sniff them, they’ll sometimes roll around on them, and occasionally, they’ll chew on them. I remember my dog would always insist on stuffing her nose into every single one of our shoes whenever we’d get home and take them off. It’s an interest in our shoes that all our dogs seem to share, and it’s definitely something odd to witness. Most annoying is when our dogs try to turn our shoes into toys – especially if they’re our “good” shoes. But there is a scientific explanation for why our dogs seem obsessed with our shoes.
The easiest explanation for why our dogs end up using our shoes as their own personal toys is because they’re very accessible. Think about it. Most of us will leave our shoes out wherever we take them off, whether that is in the bedroom beside the bed, by the front door, or in the living room. Unless your dog knows how to open a closet door, our shoes can be easily grabbed and then destroyed. But another reason that our dogs love our shoes is that they can smell everywhere that we’ve been and it’s exciting. We wear our shoes to the park, to the grocery store, to our friends’ homes, to the office, to the mall – literally everywhere. There is no way that our dogs would not be interested in the different smells that inadvertently come home with us. That excitement might mean that they get a little carried away sniffing the shoes and that leads to unwanted playtime. Furthermore, our dogs find most of the textures in our shoes to be quite fun. Leather in particular is quite fun for some dogs.
But sometimes it isn’t just interest and a love for your personal smell. Puppies will often chew on shoes because they’re teething and similar to babies they need something to chew on to relieve the discomfort. But if your adult dog is taking chunks out of your Chucks, then it could be because they’re experiencing some kind of anxiety or stress. When dogs feel stressed they might chew on things to help alleviate their anxiety. Look for other signs of stress that might be accompanying such behavior like excessive licking, decreased appetite, increased sleep, isolation, digestive distress, shaking, excessive barking, or bathroom accidents. If you think that your dog might be experiencing stress then it’s best to talk to your vet about the appropriate course of action to take to get them to stop.