Why Does My Dog Steal My Shoes but Not Chew Them?

If you’re a dog owner, you may have experienced the frustrating phenomenon of finding your shoes mysteriously missing, only to discover them hidden somewhere in your dog’s favorite spot. 

While it may leave you puzzled, you may also notice that your dog doesn’t actually chew on the stolen shoes. So, why do dogs engage in this peculiar behavior of stealing shoes without destroying them? 

In this article, we will explore the possible reasons behind this behavior and provide insights into understanding your dog’s motivation.

Instinctual Behavior

Dogs have a long history of being hunters and scavengers, and their instincts can still drive their behaviors today. 

In the wild, canines would often steal and hoard items such as bones or food to ensure their survival. 

Domesticated dogs may exhibit a similar instinctual behavior of taking and collecting objects like shoes. 

Stealing shoes may satisfy their instinctual desire to gather resources, even if the objects themselves have no intrinsic value to them.

Scent and Comfort

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and your shoes carry your unique scent. When a dog steals your shoes, they are essentially taking a piece of you. 

The familiar scent provides them with comfort and reassurance, especially when they are feeling anxious or seeking solace in your absence. 

Chewing the shoes could damage the comforting scent, so dogs may opt to keep them intact to maximize their soothing effect.

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Attention-Seeking Behavior

Dogs are social animals and thrive on attention and interaction with their human companions. 

Stealing your shoes, which are often associated with your daily routine, may be a way for your dog to get your attention. 

The act of taking something that belongs to you can be seen as a playful or mischievous behavior, prompting you to engage with them and redirect your attention towards them. 

Dogs quickly learn that stealing shoes often results in interaction and playtime, reinforcing the behavior.

Boredom and Lack of Stimulation

Dogs are intelligent creatures and require mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy. 

If a dog is under-stimulated or bored, they may resort to engaging in behaviors that alleviate their boredom, such as stealing shoes. 

The act of taking an object can provide a temporary distraction and entertainment for them. Chewing shoes might not be as interesting or satisfying as the initial act of stealing them, so they choose to keep them intact.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common issue among dogs, especially when their owners leave them alone for extended periods. 

Dogs with separation anxiety often exhibit destructive behaviors, such as chewing furniture or household items, as a way to cope with their distress. 

In some cases, stealing and holding onto your shoes can be a form of self-soothing for dogs with separation anxiety. The presence of your scent on the shoes can provide them comfort and reassurance during your absence.

Lack of Training and Reinforcement

If your dog has not received proper training or reinforcement to discourage the shoe-stealing behavior, it may persist or even escalate. 

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Dogs are quick learners and will repeat behaviors that have been rewarded in the past. 

If stealing shoes has previously garnered attention or amusement from you, they may continue the behavior to obtain the desired reaction. 

Consistent training and redirection can help break the habit and teach your dog more appropriate behaviors.


Understanding why your dog steals your shoes but refrains from chewing them can shed light on their motivations and help you address the behavior more effectively. 

Whether it’s driven by instinctual behaviors, a need for attention, boredom, separation anxiety, or lack of training, there are steps you can take to manage and redirect their actions. 

Providing adequate mental and physical stimulation, teaching proper boundaries, and offering alternative toys or activities can help prevent your shoes from becoming your dog’s favorite “toys.” 

With patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement, you can guide your furry friend towards more appropriate and enjoyable behaviors.