Answer: Don’t give your puppy shoes.

Isn’t it awesome when the solution to a problem is so easy?!

And it really is this easy.

The key to keeping your puppy from engaging in undesirable behavior is to manipulate their environment so that they literally cannot engage in undesirable behavior.

Note that I use the word “undesirable” and not “naughty” or “bad.” If you’re on our mailing list (and if you’re not, sign up here), you have already heard this from me:

Dogs are really good at being dogs.
And they are really, really bad at being people.

I’m going to add the following to this obvious-but-shockingly-hard-for-humans-to-understand concept:

Puppies are not naughty.
Puppies do exactly what they are supposed to do.

Puppies are supposed to chew, bite, investigate, and explore. Our job, as their guardians, is to allow them to do all of these normal puppy behaviors in a way that allows them to co-exist with humans. A puppy wants — and needs — to explore the world with their mouth for teething purposes, mental stimulation, brain development, and general exploration. Getting your puppy to stop chewing is just not healthy. Instead, we must set them up for success by giving them things that are ok for them to chew… AND by restricting access to things that are not on that list.

When you give a puppy the option to chew up a shoe, and then they do, you must do the following:

Hold your hand up with your palm facing you.
Smack yourself in the face.

Kidding, kidding, we don’t condone positive punishment around here. But seriously, why on earth would you expect a puppy to make sensible-to-humans decisions? They are a baby, an infant, just newly born. They just arrived on this planet and they are a stranger in a strange land.

So what do you do? This bears repeating:

The key to keeping your puppy from engaging in undesirable behavior is to manipulate their environment so that they literally cannot engage in undesirable behavior.

A great way to put this principle in action is by creating a puppy den. Check out this description of a puppy den from Ian Dunbar’s website, Dog Star Daily. (Incidentally, do you have a puppy or are you thinking of getting a puppy? Before and After Getting Your Puppy by Ian Dunbar is required reading. And the entire book posted FOR FREE here.)

Creating a puppy den in your home will give your puppy the perfect environment for an errorless (or close to errorless) puppyhood. Again, your puppy is just a baby, so he cannot be trusted to ignore electrical cords, laptop cables, clothes, shoes, chair legs, etc. When he cannot be directly supervised, he must be safe and secure in an enclosed puppy area with Kongs, bully sticks, various chew toys, etc. A puppy does not earn free access to a house or apartment until they have earned it, and usually not until they are at least one year in age.

To sum up…
Your puppy won’t chew on shoes because your puppy will not have unsupervised access to shoes. And when he is supervised and he does go for the shoe, he will be actively redirected to a human-approved chewie or toy or game. And if he cannot be redirected, either the puppy or the shoes will be physically moved to different locations. The shoes can go in the closet and/or the puppy can go into his puppy area. Question answered, problem solved!

Dog Adventures Northwest Logo

Would you like to receive dog training tips and tricks in your inbox?

Sign up below to make it happen!