Dog ate my shoe! Again!
May 16, 2009 11:41 AM   Subscribe

Hi. We have a puppy that's a little over a year old, and lately she's picked up a bad habit. She's started to chew on (and ruin some of) our shoes. Rather than totally removing access to the shoes, how can we get her to stop? We've tried showing them to her and telling her "no", but she's a little airheaded so that's not working very well. I bought some of the bitter apple taste-bad spray stuff from PetSmart. It kind of worked, but it seemed like if there wasn't a lot of spray on there then it didn't deter her, so I had to re-spray a lot. Is there a better spray? I was wondering about maybe wiping mace on them, but would that damage our shoes? (btw, we can handle washing our hands after handling our shoes until she gets trained to leave the shoes alone). Or what other techniques would work? Thanks!
posted by atm to Pets & Animals (71 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
IANADT, but I'd start by putting a really tasty, non-sprayed shoe in front of her. When she starts to put her mouth on it, correct her. Do this for a few minutes, correcting her instantly each time she starts to mouth the shoe. When she ignores the shoe even though it's tender and delicious and right there in front of her, give her a treat and stop. Repeat again later.
posted by jon1270 at 11:55 AM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

A year-old dog has very little self control. Why not put the shoes in a safe place for another six months.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:59 AM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]

I'm sorry, I really don't understand why you can't just keep your shoes away from the puppy (i.e., in a closet with the door shut, or on a bench or shoe tree that's too high for her to reach). It is a statement of fact that puppies chew. A lot. On whatever they can get their sweet little teeth on. You can correct her (firmly but not angrily) if you catch her in the act, but showing her the shoe after the fact and expecting her to "get it" doesn't make her air-headed; it makes her a dog, with different cognitive skills than a human.

Training (through reward) to ignore shoes in front of her -- presumably in favor of her favorite chew toys (you do have adequate and appropriate chew toys for her, right?) -- is a good idea, too, but really, I still think it comes down to this: if you don't want something chewed on, it's your responsibility to keep it away from the chewing machine in your midst.
posted by scody at 12:02 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'm going to try and take some deep breaths so I don't freak out that you want to put mace on your shoes for a one year old puppy. If I sound really annoyed, I AM. REALLY ANNOYED. And trying not to be too rude. The following suggestions are not just for the shoes but for general dog knowledge and training. If you think putting mace on shoes for your puppy is a good idea, you really need some other training ideas. Your dog is not going to be a puppy forever. She will soon be bigger, stronger, more stubborn. She is not "airheaded" -- you are just not communicating with her very well.

Have you done ANY training with your dog? Like can she reliably do a sit, stay, come, etc.? Have you read any books on dog training? Can she do "drop it" or "give"? I guarantee you she can learn most of these things with very humane, fun, and effective training. "NO" does not work - it has no meaning for her. Teach her what she SHOULD do and keep giving that option to her over and over. And remove the obstacles. SET HER UP FOR SUCCESS.

FIRST: JUST REMOVE SHOES FOR NOW. SHE IS A PUPPY. She WILL chew on things and it's up to you to remove and supply better options. She WILL grow out of shoes but right now they smell delicious, nice and soft, right texture, etc. Get a big box and put shoes in it. She'll get over it, I promise.

1. Does she have her own chew toys? A variety of them? Rotate them in and out every day or two. She will get bored of them and they'll seem new. Different bones, bully sticks (NOT RAWHIDE), squeaky things, ropes, kongs? They make these great canvas toys with bits of suede sticking out that puppys who like shoes love. Find a toy that FEELS like a shoe.

2. Get about 5 kong toys. Plug up the bottom hole with peanut butter and a piece of kibble or treat. Fill the rest with kibble, bits of cheese, and peanut butter. Pour a bit of beef broth in there. Freeze until solid. Give to puppy to chew for at least 30 minutes of hard chewing.

3. How much exercise is she getting? Is she socialized with other dogs? How? Please answer.

4. A tired puppy is always a good puppy.

5. Are you in a puppy training class with her? Not at Petsmart. At a real training facility or with a trained dog behaviorist/trainer.

6. Read some of these authors: Jean Donaldson, Ian Dunbar, Karen Pryor.
- Jean Donaldson, The Culture Clash
- Ian Dunbar, How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks
- Karen Pryor, Don’t Shoot the Dog
- Karen Pryor, Clicker Training For Dogs
Go through those books and get into a class with your dog.

7. Are you crate training your puppy? Do you know what this means? Is she chewing shoes in your presence or when you are not home or not looking?

Please answer the questions above and you will get more answers.
posted by barnone at 12:05 PM on May 16, 2009 [16 favorites]

PS: I just read your profile. Since you are a Christian that hates the thought of others suffering, and hate it when people smile at the suffering of others, you SHOULD NOT PUT mace for your one year old puppy to eat. She will suffer.

Set her up for success. Make it your goal to only be able to praise her (not scold). Of course you will have to remove things from her and teach her how to say yes/no (in dog language -- be able to leave things, take things, sit, stay, go, come, down, ignore the tasty steak sitting on her paws, etc.)

She is a dog. A puppy. Who wants to chew. Get her tuckered out and only give her appropriate chew toys. Score! no more shoes ruined!

Think of it this way: if she fails, you've failed. Set up the situation so that she can only succeed and then YOU'VE succeeded as a trainer and friend.
posted by barnone at 12:12 PM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]

If a dog does something that's a bad behavior, with a physical result (puddle on the floor, chewed shoe), you've got maybe a minute to have an effective correction. After that, it isn't "there's that place where I just peed," it is "there is a puddle of pee that smells familiar to me."

Think about it, the lower down the food chain you are, the more your actions are immediately rewarded or punished (usually by pain or being eaten by something else). The window of associating an action performed by you and the result only gets fairly big when you hit adult animals with big brains. A year-old dog hasn't hit that yet.

Dogs are creatures who mostly interface with the world via their mouth (action) and nose (sensing). Fantastically odoriferous shoes might as well be disco balls with strobing lights. Hence, that item begs for exploration, and one does that through the mouth.

I would do it all: keep the shoes away from the dog, and do what jon1270 suggested. And get the dog something else, non-shoe-like (the worst possible thing to do here is to sacrifice an old shoe) to chew upon.
posted by adipocere at 12:13 PM on May 16, 2009

Leather shoes are delicious dried beef jerky to a puppy.

Puppies like and need to chew.

What do you mean, "rather than remove access to the shoes"? Remove access to the shoes. Put them where the puppy can't reach them. And them make sure your puppy has lot of other appropriate things to chew. Read barnone's answer several times.

If your puppy is lonely, she'll chew even more, to comfort and placate herself. Your puppy is not airheaded....she just is not a human being. Don't expect her to know what you know. You have to teach her.
posted by iconomy at 12:16 PM on May 16, 2009

"What did I do???" Said a foster pup the first week I had him. I mean, yeah, they were hidden. And then he found them :-) My fault, not his! I know your pain but you can successfully resolve this (and many more) issues with a knowledge of training, a whole bunch of patience, and the most important thing: humour.
posted by barnone at 12:22 PM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]

Mace is not okay. First of all, it's poison and that's just not a nice thing to do one's own puppy. Secondly, a combination of proactive environmental modification (i.e. put your shoes away until puppy is older) and teaching is always preferable to punishment. Punishment is not durable, doesn't generalize, and almost always comes with unwanted side effects.
posted by dchrssyr at 12:29 PM on May 16, 2009

Barnone's suggestions are great. Puppies are a huge responsibility, more so than many people think. You will need to make that level of commitment if you want to have a happy and obedient dog.

Please do not put harsh chemicals (natural or otherwise) on your shoes for your puppy. You should correct her with a sternly toned "No." if you catch her in the act. You should also work to encourage her to chew on the correct things by rotating chew toys every few days (as Barnone suggested), and using a high pitched tone to say "Good Puppy" and petting her when she chews on the right toys.

You should be very disappointed when she chews on the wrong things, but never angry and certainly never hit or kick your dog. You should be absolutely, fantastically ecstatic when she chews on the right things.

You should also get her into a training program. Dogs need structure if they are to learn their place in your family (your pack, really). They need to know you are the alpha and make all decisions about what and when to eat, where to go, and what behavior is and isn't appropriate. You cannot expect to change one thing without changing everything. Almost all dogs will surpass their owners expectations when trained properly. And faster than you think. The key is doing it correctly and consistently. A professional can help you immensely and the next 15 years you spend with your dog will be much happier for it. It is a very small price to pay.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:34 PM on May 16, 2009

We had a dog when we lived in Japan, and in Japan it's very difficult for me to find shoes, so much so that I usually spent about $1000 on shoes when returning to Canada each year or so.

Anyway, I had a nice pair of dress shoes for work and weddings, and I polished them and left them in the shoe cupboard in the front hall.

We left our dog in the front hall at night and when we went out, just to reduce the risk of pissing/puking on floors, chewing on rugs, etc, and it worked well.

However, I polished my shoes, shut them in the cupboard and went out. When I returned my shoes were wrecked.

She chews on them because she misses you.

But boy was I pissed.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:35 PM on May 16, 2009

If you're on the west coast, mefi mail me and I will suggest some trainers.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:36 PM on May 16, 2009

Will mace wreck your shoes? Who cares, you're debating putting it in a baby's mouth. Sorry to pile on, but BAD OWNER.

This worked for my friend's chewy dog. Bring the leashed puppy into a room where there is a shoe. When the puppy shows interest in the shoe, tug her leash back and quietly say NO. Then go the the shoe and correct the hell out of it. Yell at it, stomp on it, BAD SHOE! You're mad at the shoe, not the puppy. Then nonchalantly take the puppy out of the room and back in again. Repeat until she's disinterested in the shoe. Then she gets a treat for ignoring it. Switch shoes a few times so she understands that all shoes are bad. Problem solved. More detailed advice here (scroll to the top of that page).
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:37 PM on May 16, 2009

Barnone has the best advice. Your dog should be in basic obedience if she hasn't gone through that already. If she's a high-energy breed like a lab, she probably needs a couple of 45-minute walks per day.

I second the Kong recommendation; some dogs also enjoy the Buster Cube.

But yeah, puppies chew. My lab took 3 years to get out of the puppy stage. But you will be rewarded if you put effort into training and positive reinforcement with your dog. Just showing her a shoe and saying no won't cut it.
posted by Ostara at 12:47 PM on May 16, 2009

The notion of the "alpha" as a human is actually outdated and really used by some trainers to enable a certain amount of violence, fear, and what most modern and positive dog trainers consider to be an incorrect dominance model. I agree with most of what jeffamaphone says but don't fool yourself into thinking you're the "alpha." If anyone suggests doing the "alpha roll" or putting the dog on its side, etc., that person is not up-to-date on their dog knowledge and is putting you and the dog in what could be a bad (and dangerous, and VERY unfair) situation. The Dog Whisperer is very inhumane and does not provide lasting results. (Another rant for another time).

Bottom Line: Dogs know you're not a dog! So how could you be the Alpha? Pack leadership is WAY more complicated than any of us humans can figure out.

This Academy for Dog Trainers is one of the best. They have a list of resources, including the ABCs for dog guardians (not "Alpha" owners) and a list of dog trainer referrals. Obviously there could be some bad apples on that list but if folks spend the time and money and energy getting trained in San Francisco, my guess is they're better than most folks with NO training.

Here is a list of their resources. And their list of dog trainers.

"No" really doesn't work, especially not on its own. It might work in your presence but it won't be generalized when you're not home, not looking, other shoes, other things (purses, belts, couch, whatever). What DOES work is showing her what TO DO. (Not just what not to do).

It's up to you to provide that guidance.
posted by barnone at 12:51 PM on May 16, 2009

We put up a gate (actually, an easily shifted plastic barrier) to block the dog from the entranceway where we kept our shoes. There were still occasional mistakes but then around the time he turned 3, we noticed that even if we forgot to put the gate up, he no longer chewed on the shoes. (Note - our dog is part lab - famous chewer - other dogs would probably reach this stage earlier.) so now the shoes are unprotected in the entry way all the time without a problem. I will add the dog is not allowed in the entry way - usually a problem guest come in and he can't stand to wait to greet them but it does let him know he shouldn't be where the shoes are.

The interesting thing is that he will still sometimes steal the shoes my husband uses to exercise (which are left near the exercise bike). Not often, but once in a while where the dog never steal shoes from the front hall. Apparently since shoes are stores in a different place, he isn't quite as sure if they are off limit.

Also "release" is a very, very useful command so chasing dog+shoe does not become a favorite game. (voice of experience here)
posted by metahawk at 12:58 PM on May 16, 2009

BitterApple plus yelling at the shoe, per psuedostrabismus's advice, worked for our puppy. But you know what? I regret it now. We later got an older lab from the pound, who one day brought me a sneaker as if to say "Let's go for a walk!!!" We did, and now he brings me sneakers on command. He gets a bit confused if I leave more than one pair out, but hey so do I before the coffee kicks in.

I tried to teach our original girl the same trick but she won't go near them. Too bad, cause it's a charming trick. It's a way for the dog communicate clearly with you (walk! now!), and also makes them feel helpful, which they love.

So - put the shoes up for now, then teach your pup to bring them to you when she's a little older and has a little more control.
posted by txvtchick at 1:38 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Remove access to the shoes. Buy a belt or a pair of shoes at Target that the puppy can chew on. Exercise her, so she's tired. Chewing at that age seems likely related to excess energy and boredom; it's the dog equivalent of doodling.

You don't seem like you like animals much. I would never in a million years imagine putting mace (and maybe you don't really know what mace is or does) on anything near my dog. If you don't want this dog, memail me, maybe I can find someone who does. I don't know if you're cut out for this. Dogs aren't furniture, or a behavioral problem to be resolved.

Mr. Llama once said to me, when I was pointing out how crappy our couch looked after our cat had done her work on it for the hundredth time, and he said, you can be a furniture person or you can be a cat person, but you can't be both. I think that's a really important thing to understand if you want animals in your life. Whatever perfect elegant existence you imagined is likely to not mesh with the reality of pet ownership.

As for shoes: we keep them in the breezeway. She gets marrow bones. We have shoes, she has something to chew on.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:39 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I hope the OP ignores the knuckleheads snarling "BAD OWNER" or "ANIMAL HATER". It's entirely possible the OP doesn't know exactly what mace is, so there's no reason to exercise your morning hate here, folks. Try to use the same patience and restraint and compassion you would use with, you know, animals.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:05 PM on May 16, 2009 [6 favorites]

get the dog some chew toys
exercise the dog
play with the dog
keep your shoes out of her way, put them in a closet
do not yell at the dog
do not hit the dog

Dogs chew. Young dogs really chew. People have lots of chewy stuff. It is up to you to make a safe environment for the dog. If you catch the dog chewing, take the item away (my husband usually growls while doing this) and give her a suitable chew toy. She will out grow this, like a child as she matures she will stop this behavior.

As for bad owner, I had a dog that chewed furniture. I loved this dog with all my heart. If I was not at work I spent all my time with this dog. Since we lived in a studio I could not isolate her from the furniture, I painted the furniture legs with Tabasco sauce, she stopped the chewing. I would not suggest this with your shoes, just keep them out of the way like you would something you do not want a child or baby to get at.

I also had a cat with the dog. The cat would climb up and knock things down for the dog to chew. I actually caught them doing this, working as a team. It was cute.
posted by fifilaru at 2:32 PM on May 16, 2009

Great advice here.

I just wanted to raise the possibility that the OP might have meant mace as in the spice, not the poison.
posted by bink at 2:42 PM on May 16, 2009

Another thing to consider is that the scent of you is very vital and attractive to your pup. You can (this is kind of gross) marinate their chew toys in your shows after you've worn them for awhile to get your scent all over them, and then give the chew toys to your pup as a transfer away from the shoes.

Dogs use their sense of smell like we use our eyes. I read once that dogs who tear apart furniture and clothing while their owners are away do it because they can still smell you in them and, using doglogic, feel like they just have to take apart the sofa/your sweater/your shoes until they find you hiding in them somewhere.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 3:23 PM on May 16, 2009

Response by poster: Op here. First I want to say to those people who said I was a bad owner (and worse): If there's a difference between mace and the pepper spray that is used for self protection, I didn't know there was a difference. What I really was thinking of was pepper spray. So in your minds, substitute "pepper spray" for where I wrote "mace". If that doesn't matter to you and you still think it would be cruel to put a little bit of pepper spray on shoes to discourage my dog from chewing on them, well I think you're wrong and over reacting. There wouldn't be any permanent harm; she'd be fine. And the flavor of shoes would not be desirable any more. Besides, the reason I posted this question was to see if there are better alternatives.
I will not get into arguments over this but if you want to add another "give them spare shoes, etc to chew on", please save your time because they have plenty of toys and bones to chew on.
posted by atm at 3:34 PM on May 16, 2009

It's a puppy. Put your shoes out of the way and anything else you don't want chewed up. As Barnone and others have suggested, proper training will ensure that this behavior stops in time.

Also, you might want to consider what gets tracked in on your shoes to avoid the risk of Canine Parvovirus.
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:06 PM on May 16, 2009

OK, that was a little out of line on my end, and doesn't answer the question. Barnone seems to have a pretty good lock on what works, OP, and I'd definitely suggest a canine behaviorist or trainer-- folks have offered to refer you if you need it-- come in and evaluate your situation.

I'd wondered how full of crap the Dog Whisperer was after being unable to stomach an ep the other day where he was basically traumatizing a dog with the alpha-roll technique for 10 minutes or so of lovingly obscene camera time. I would hate to see you, OP, or anyone else place your dog in a state of pain, anxiety, or fear as part of training, and I'm pretty sure that even if lasting harm isn't done, the pepper spray will hurt your dog and upset her-- and that's not going to produce a lasting positive result.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:14 PM on May 16, 2009

Response by poster: A.) Not if you're defending yourself or someone else. It's the person you're defending against who's the lawbreaker.
B.)I think the charge of maliciously hurting a person is "assault" and/or "battery" (never been sure which or both). Anyway, that charge wouldn't apply for a dog. I think it would be animal cruelty for maliciously hurting an animal. The point is: animals are not people (believe it or not).
C.)Since I love her and she's my responsibility, in a way I feel any pain she feels and it would pain me to have to cause her discomfort. I wouldn't ever cause her pain without reason. I will, however, lovingly discipline her when it is called for, and our shoes are not hers to chew. If a little bit of pepper spray stops it, and it doesn't harm her, then I'm considering it.
D.)The fact is that we structure our lives in a fashion that cares for her and considers her into our plans, and I have spent hundreds (and will continue to spend) for vet bills and health supplies for her, not to mention the money she cost to buy, and the money she's cost in destroyed belongings.
E.)Ah, nevermind, I'm probably wasting my time.
posted by atm at 4:24 PM on May 16, 2009

You know, when my dog was little and in the "chew" phase, he destroyed a couple pairs of flip flops.

Because I left them around, he was bored or he didn't have any other toys around.

Get your puppy a Kong. Fill it with snacks. Put your shoes away.
posted by jerseygirl at 4:33 PM on May 16, 2009

Response by poster: Future posters, I don't want to have to keep my shoes away from the dog. She has plenty of toys around to chew. She has her dog reasons for wanting to chew our shoes, but I want to train her not to. I don't want our lives to be like, come home, find chewed shoe, say to each other, well it's our fault for leaving the shoe where she could get it. I am trying to train the dog not to chew shoes, period. This isn't unreasonable, even if it breaks some people's hearts.
posted by atm at 5:07 PM on May 16, 2009

I think what many answers are trying to stress is that training your dog is a process, and is not something that will happen overnight. There are no magic words or sprays that will stop your dog from chewing on your shoes immediately. If you remove the temptation while working to train the dog, you will end up with less shoes that are ruined overall.
posted by macska at 5:20 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Future posters, I don't want to have to keep my shoes away from the dog. She has plenty of toys around to chew. She has her dog reasons for wanting to chew our shoes, but I want to train her not to. I don't want our lives to be like, come home, find chewed shoe, say to each other, well it's our fault for leaving the shoe where she could get it. I am trying to train the dog not to chew shoes, period. This isn't unreasonable, even if it breaks some people's hearts.

Your puppy is young and stupid, with poor impulse control. You seem to want your puppy to not just understand what you want, but to be properly grateful for all you've done for it. Whenever it fails and chews your easily available shoes, this seems to anger you and make you more and more determined that the puppy will obey.

Did your parents try to toilet train you when you were a few months old, or did they wait until you were older? If they had tried to train you early by leaving your diapers off, would they have been justifiably angry about the trail of scat you left around the living room? After all, they loved you, spent oodles of money on you and your Mom even went through a lot of pain to deliver you. Your infant reasons for pooping on the shag carpet would not be tolerated because there would have been an easily accessible potty in your house.

While there may be some way to leave those tempting shoes around and successfully train the puppy to avoid them -- and you have received a few suggestions so far -- you may find that it's a lot more effective for your puppy to go through the kind of obedience training barnone has suggested FIRST. Get that relationship between you and the puppy well-defined, get it to understand that it can and should try to please you. Keep those tempting, tempting shoes locked up until the puppy has learned how to successfully deal with the broad rules for being a well-behaved pet.

You don't have to keep your shoes locked up for life. You just have to keep them locked up until you have a more mature, well-trained dog.
posted by maudlin at 5:53 PM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]

I don't want to have to keep my shoes away from the dog.

That's too bad. That's your responsibility as the human in this scenario. You signed on to raise a dog properly. Raising and training a dog properly entails precisely this sort of thing.

You may not be a bad owner, but you are apparently being a pretty stubborn one by failing to understand her real needs and capacities and refusing to actually address this issue properly. All of which means that no matter how much you genuinely love your dog, you're not doing her any favors.
posted by scody at 6:01 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

So, I *am* a dog trainer. :) I'm not *your* dog trainer, but I am a dog trainer and behaviourist.

At one year old, your dog is an adolescent, with all the trials and tribulations that are involved in that. She doesn't have the best impulse control in the world, but she can and should learn more and more of it.

90% of dog training is training the owner. 90% of the remaining 10% is consistency. When you undertake training, everyone in the house needs to be on board. I personally do not recommend the use of things like pepper spray or Bitter Apple to my clients, because techniques that reward good behaviour instead of punishing bad behaviour lead to stronger, more consistent results.

Right now, chewing your shoes is a self-rewarding behavior -- this means that chewing on them is its own reward. You need to make the behaviour that you *want* to be the most rewarding thing she can do. You say she has a lot of toys and bones and chewy things now, but they clearly are not as rewarding as chewing on the shoes. So look at her toys and see what about shoes is so different from them. Think about materials, smells, and mouthfeel. Does she have a favorite kind of shoe? How can you present a material that is either similar or better than those shoes? When does she chew on shoes? Is it when you're gone? In front of you?

If it's when you're gone, she may be comforting herself with your scent and the taste of her people while they are gone. Doing something as simple as putting one of her stuffed toys in your dirty clothes hamper could make that toy more appealing than the shoes.

If it's in front of you, the first thing you need to look at is how much attention and exercise she's getting. To dogs, negative attention is better than no attention, so if she can consistently get attention by chewing a shoe, she's going to do it. If that's the case, sacrificial shoes while you teach her that chewing toys get her positive attention while chewing shoes gets her nothing is something that needs to be done.

Either way, some sessions of directed training with shoes and appropriately awesome toys are called for. Sit down with her, shoes, and toys and reward her with treats and praise for chewing on toys. If she starts to chew the shoe, ignore her -- you could even turn your back. Offer her the toys -- make a big deal about her taking them or chewing on them. No reaction at all for the shoes, in fact, withdrawing your attention is going to be powerful for her.

Feel free to MeFiMail me for specific suggestions to your situation.
posted by Concolora at 6:24 PM on May 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

You don't seem to want any suggestions other than "sure, mace is fine for dogs." We offered you lots of other solutions because quite simply, mace is NOT fine to train your 12 month old puppy. You're a Christian who believes in not harming others. That's easy to do when everything's easy. Practice what you preach: this is the perfect opportunity because it's not easy. Because you have to find a way that isn't obvious or easy (for you).

At this point I'm really not that concerned with just the mace. It's your overall attitude about your puppy and training in general that is a little worrisome. Even the idea that using mace might be possible is a red alert symptom of that.

I work extensively with foster dogs, shelter dogs, and rehabilitating all kinds of dogs. I'm nowhere near a dog behaviorist expert, but I've done my fair share of training dogs, teaching owners, and learning myself. Dogs are not born "bad" or air-headed. They're made that way through poor communication, unfair training, inconsistency and not setting up the dog for success.

I will say this without qualification: owners like you, who think they're doing a "favor" for the dog by keeping it alive and paying the bills required to live with a pet, are the hardest to deal with. Sure, those folks who tether a dog or physically abuse a dog are terrible. But you know what? They actually learn faster or are more likely to find alternate arrangements for their dog when offered other options. Owners that pretend to know everything, snub alternate options, are entirely inflexible, without humor, and without anything resembling understanding of canine behavior, personalities or the requirements of dog guardianship, only continue to harm their dog and their relationship with their pet.

And the kicker? You won't get what you want. In this case, you might eventually - most dogs grow out of it in another few months or a year. But she also might gnaw on shoes forever.

Once you get past your own ideas about how a dog thinks, how to communicate effectively, and what it's capable of learning, you'll find your relationship with your pup improves dramatically.

You did not answer any of my questions about:
- exercise
- socialization
- toy prep (i.e. kong freezing)
- rotating other toys
- training in general

Some of us have a world of experience with dogs, but you are refusing anything other than your own stubborn ideas which ARE NOT WORKING. She's one. Can you deal with not getting what you want out of her for 12-15 more years?
posted by barnone at 6:49 PM on May 16, 2009 [5 favorites]

Mod note: few comments removed - name-calling has to stop both ways, please, thank you
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:50 PM on May 16, 2009

Response by poster: There's nothing wrong with putting something that tastes bad onto shoes to discourage dogs from chewing on them. Further, a little bit of pepper spray wiped onto shoes wouldn't cause any harm at all. To say that putting a little bit of pepper spray onto shoes to discourage my dog from chewing them makes me a bad owner (or worse) without any other knowledge of anything else about our home life with our pets is an over reaction and frankly, calls the accuser's overall judgment skills into question. It's not like I'm talking about holding her down and spraying it into her face. Get a grip.
posted by atm at 9:22 PM on May 16, 2009

This isn't unreasonable

Yes it is. You have a year-old dog. There is no magic bullet (or spray) to prevent normal, predictable canine behavior. Dogs are remarkably intelligent creatures that can be trained to do any number of things, even things that contradict their natural instincts -- like not chew on shoes. But that takes a bit of time. Reread barnone's advice, but this time without the sanctimony. In the interim, the simplest solution is for you to get up off your ass an put away the damn shoes.

if there's a choice between inconveniencing them or me being inconvenienced, well, I win.

Let me guess, this is your first dog. I hate to tell you, but having a dog is an inconvenience. The expense of food, the vet bills, the walks at night in the cold and rain, not being able to just leave town on a whim for a weekend, the housebreaking, and yes, the destructive chewing. Every bit of that is an inconvenience. Like it or not, this is what you signed on for when you got this dog. I lovingly refer to my dogs as retarded children that never grow up or get any smarter. But I knew that was part of the deal when I took them in.

Seriously, everyone here is telling you to put away the shoes. It's not that hard. When I had my first dog, I got tired of being licked with toilet water tongue. I learned to put the lid down.

Finally, on the pepper spray, your dog may very well be turned off by the scent and never touch the shoes again. But what will happen is that you'll have pepper spray in your shoes around all of that tender, sensitive skin on your feet. Or you'll put on your shoes, tie the laces, and then rub your eye or take a leak. Cross-contamination is a bitch.
posted by lost_cause at 9:27 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

if there's a choice between inconveniencing them or me being inconvenienced, well, I win.

Since you continue to insist on viewing your animal as an "inconvenience" -- rather that a responsibility that you freely chose -- let me say this: when you get tired of being inconvenienced once and for all (and I am guessing that you will, because she's going to keep "inconveniencing" for another decade or more), please contact a breed rescue in your area, or take her to a no-kill shelter or rescue service.
posted by scody at 9:37 PM on May 16, 2009

Guys lighten up. She has an indoor dog that she loves and who gets toys and obviously isn't shuttered off to the garage or wherever. Putting something that tastes bad on shoes to deter chewing is not something to alert PETA over. If you have kids, a mudroom, etc. I can see how always putting shoes out reach may not work.
posted by txvtchick at 9:48 PM on May 16, 2009

OP, do you know exactly how seriously the pepper spray can hurt your dog?

A selection from the Wikipedia entry on pepper spray's effect on humans: "The effects of pepper spray are far more severe, including temporary blindness which last from 15-30 minutes, a burning sensation of the skin which last from 45 to 60 minutes, upper body spasms which force a person to bend forward and uncontrollable coughing making it difficult to breathe or speak for between 3 to 15 minutes."

For further reference, here is the link to the Wikipedia entry on pepper spray

The prospect that you would willingly, voluntarily subject your puppy to this sort experience when there are other, better training choices concerns me, and is why every other poster is speaking out against it.

By putting away your shoes, you will be saving yourself hundreds of dollars in shoe replacement costs. Ask me how I know.
posted by choochoo at 9:55 PM on May 16, 2009

if there's a choice between inconveniencing them or me being inconvenienced, well, I win.

By adopting this attitude, it is entirely possible both you and the dog will lose.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:06 PM on May 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: People can twist my words and mischaracterize my statements all they want, but there'll still be nothing wrong with wiping a little bit of pepper spray on shoes to get a dog to stop chewing them. Again, for all those who have reading comprehension problems: No one is spraying anything into any animal's faces.
posted by atm at 10:17 PM on May 16, 2009

there'll still be nothing wrong with wiping a little bit of pepper spray on shoes to get a dog to stop chewing them

If you know this for sure, then why did you ask your question in the first place?
posted by scody at 10:24 PM on May 16, 2009 [4 favorites]

Honestly, dude, it might be you that has the reading comprehension issues. Very few people are accusing you of outright animal cruelty. What we're trying to explain is that you're looking for a complex solution to a simple problem.
posted by lost_cause at 10:27 PM on May 16, 2009

And just to be clear, so you can't sidestep the question -- I don't mean why did you ask the question about "are there other sprays, like mace?" I mean this question: Or what other techniques would work?

Dozens of well-informed people who obviously have far more experience with dogs are telling you precisely what other techniques would work. Why, exactly, are you dismissing them?
posted by scody at 10:28 PM on May 16, 2009

You may wish to remember that dogs (and cats, to a lesser degree) have far keener senses when it comes to taste and smell.

I dunno, I'm inclined to test this myself by purchasing some pepper spray tomorrow and some really tough, leathery beef jerky. If I show up cursing your name, we'll know it's a bad idea.
posted by adipocere at 10:29 PM on May 16, 2009

Please give your dog to someone who will care more about her than they do about their shoes.
posted by trip and a half at 11:14 PM on May 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

A few years ago I was pepper sprayed. For days after the attack I couldn't take a hot shower because it opened my pores and burned like hell, even after scrubbing off in cold water.

If you're claiming that putting pepper spray on an object that an animal with stronger senses will come in contact with won't cause that animal extreme distress, you have no idea what you're talking about and I sincerely hope that you give the dog to someone a little less jaw-droppingly stubborn.
posted by cmonkey at 12:30 AM on May 17, 2009 [6 favorites]

Next time try asking your question on, or,

All you wanted was validation to your original question. The only answer here, which has been repeated by knowledgeable people over and over again, is "Use positive rewards and get some help with dog training."

I don't know what other answer you're imagining you're going to get. There is no other answer other than those listed above and no other suggestions.

What do you think you're going to get? Give her ten dollars and she'll stop chewing your shoes? Tell her she can't go to college? Beat her with a stick?

You ask a question, get a basically consistent opinion, get belligerent when people take you to task for coming up with what is frankly, a dumb idea, and then because you're peeved, take a shot at the president (?!)

Pull yourself together and open your mind to the possibility that the people who've given you a fairly consistent set of answers might be right. If you don't have the ability to listen to other people when you ask them their opinions, stop asking them anything. It's a waste of your time and theirs.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:14 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

OP if you're still there:

Quick trial and error method of finding a repellent your dog doesn't like.

And an alternative suggestion from my favorite dog training book (about toys but should work for shoes too):

"Give your dog one object to chew or play with and discourage him from picking up anything else on the floor. Mark all the childs toys with Scope (just a dot will do). If he goes for it anyway, pick it up and shout at the toy (not the dog). Soon he'll avoid anything that smells like Scope. Lead him to his object and praise him."

As a plus, your shoes will smell minty-fresh. Also, note once again the advice about yelling at the object. It was a really quick fix for us. I was a bit disturbed to find out that I really like yelling at my shoes. Bad Shoe! Terrible Shoe! You are a Scurrilous-Type Shoe! This Shoe has No Honor!

Finally, we have a third, older dog who has separation anxiety and chews on stuff when we're gone. Giving him one of my husbands old t-shirts to smell cut down on that a lot (similar concolora's suggestion of putting the dog's stuffed toy in the laundry hamper) .
posted by txvtchick at 7:20 AM on May 17, 2009

Dogs lick EVERYTHING. Their bodies, their paws, their skin, their butts, your hands, your face. They also lick their paws to wipe their face and eyes. Her skin will burn with pepper spray on it. Dogs don't have great tear ducts so if it gets in her eyes, she will be in a great great deal of pain. Again, you profess to be a Christian who cannot stand the pain of others, or why others can smile at the pain of others. Right now, it sounds like you're smiling at the thought of making your dog mind you at great risk to her own safety and against every recommendation by animal trainers here.

If you're so sure about pepper spray being fine for dogs, then why do NO dog training websites recommend it? They don't even warn against it since it's largely assumed that most people who invite animals into their home will not be DELIBERATELY introducing that animal to a toxic, harmful substance. NONE recommend it -- not even people that I vehemently disagree with (Dog Whisperer / Alpha trainer types)

For you with a reading comprehension problem: show this thread to your partner and vet and see if they stand behind your idea. I don't think anyone in their right mind would violently disregard tons and tons of alternate ideas just to PROVE YOUR DOMINANCE. Get a grip, dude. Do no harm to others. Do what's right. She's a one year-old puppy.
posted by barnone at 8:35 AM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have trained dogs, but I too am not your DT.

That said, most shoes - and I'd wager a bet that the ones she's picking out - are made of leather.

You know what else is made of leather, and will last probably most of her life? A deflated leather basketball.

You need to praise the HELL out of her whenEVER you see her chewing on her toys (or the basketball, if you go that route). And not just praise her, play with her. Hide the toys, make a game out of it. Play fetch in the yard with them. If she's into the whole wrestling the ball away from your grip with her mouth, play fight her until she gets too tired to play anymore. Make it implicit in your behavior that chewing on these things is GOOD and it will become rewarding to her. Lots of "GOOD DOG"s, lots of petting and encouragement, smiles all around.

You need to be stern, cold, loud, negative, and generally just-this-side of frightening when you see her going anywhere near a shoe. Catching her after the fact will do nothing, you have to catch her in the act. You may consider leaving out a shoe that you don't mind her getting a hold of, and then catching her chewing it. "NO" means nothing to her only UNTIL you associate non-rewarding, negative response to the word. You need to be loud, take the shoe from her, repeat "NO" and "BAD DOG" a few times. You should appear angry, she will see that in your face and react accordingly. Don't be violent or cause her outright fear, but be stern enough that she gets the message that this was something wrong. If she has a crate or room that you keep her in, putting her in there for 15-20 minutes of alone time can also be good, to reinforce the punishment.

Dogs, like humans, have an incredible capacity to learn QUICKLY when they are young, and the more you reinforce positive behaviors and quickly and forcefully address negative behaviors, the quicker she's going to turn into a great dog.

You shouldn't be putting anything on the shoes to stop this behavior, you can do it much more easily than that.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:15 AM on May 17, 2009

Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?

If you want to be right, by all means continue to ask your puppy to forgo combining her deeply ingrained need to chew with the opportunity to revel in your tasty tasty shoes. If you want to be happy that your dog is no longer chewing your shoes, then just put your shoes away where she can't get at them. Easy.

My dog is far too old for chewing shoes but is still an unrepentant counter-surfer. If I forget and leave the butter dish out, or forget to set the cooling rack of banana back beyond his reach, I view those as lapses on my part. My dog is doing what thousands of years of doggie evolution has ingrained in him, as your dog is doing with the chewing. It's my job as the human in the equation to set things up so that I am happy with my dog's behavior. I could make myself crazy trying to train the dog to ignore the butter dish, or I could just put the darn thing back in the fridge.

Check out this article: "What Shamu Taught Me About a Happy Marriage" that appeared years ago in the New York Times. It's not really about animal training per se, but it explains very clearly the idea of incompatible behavior, and it is what professional animal trainers use to discourage unwanted behavior. It is brilliantly simple: you make unwanted behaviors impossible because you are re-directing towards a more desired behavior. After all, even if you do find that putting something on your shoes gets your dog to stop chewing on them, you might find that you are stuck putting that stuff on your shoes for the rest of your dog's life. Or worse, your dog goes from chewing on your shoes to chewing on your furniture. So think about what you can train your dog to do *instead*of chew on your shoes. We don't know the exact context of when, where and why your dog chews on shoes, but if you direct her to an alternative behavior that you desire more, you are more likely to enjoy success.

It's an old acorn, but it's true: when your dog does something that you don't want it to do, take a rolled up newspaper and hit yourself in the head, because that's where the fault lies.
posted by ambrosia at 1:43 PM on May 17, 2009

Mod note: comment removed - commenters and original posters are more than welcome to take this to metatalk, but "no calling names" applies to commenters and original posters equally.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:13 PM on May 17, 2009

Response by poster: At this point, I still disagree with those that think that wiping a little bit of pepper spray on shoes to keep dogs from chewing them is such a "bad owner"/"bad person" thing to do. Are there other ways to accomplish the same goal? Obviously. But I don't know or see any yet that are "better". If you have reason to believe that wiping a little bit of pepper spray on shoes to keep dogs from chewing them is cruel or too harsh, please let me know why. Those responses that make assumptions like I'm spraying the dog in the face with the pepper spray, or that I would hurt my dog out without conscience, will be ignored.
posted by atm at 8:53 PM on May 17, 2009

The active ingredient in pepper spray is capsaicin, which is derived from the hottest pepper known to mankind. I've cooked with this pepper, the habanero. When we used it in a cooking class, we were warned to wear gloves when handling and avoid making direct contact with the pepper. We were also warned not to touch it and then put our hands anywhere near our eyes with it. Alas, I touched it with my bare fingertips and the burn on my fingers lasted for days.

Now, imagine if your puppy were to lick it, his mouth would burn for days. I am a dentist and believe me when I tell you that the tissues of the mouth are much more sensitive (and much less protected) than regular skin.

Now, imagine your puppy putting his paws on the spots with the pepper spray and then putting his paws near his eyes or rubbing his face with his paws (my dogs frequently rub their faces with their paws).

Please, for the sake of your dog, please reconsider the use of pepper spray. It breaks my heart just thinking about your dog having to suffer such a consequence.
posted by choochoo at 9:12 PM on May 17, 2009 [2 favorites]

I do not picture you spraying pepper spray on your dog. I picture you wiping pepper spray on your shoes. Your dog will naturally go to chew your shoes. When she does, her tongue and mouth and possibly face and paws will get pepper spray on them. She will not be able to wash them off, so the pepper spray will stay on her paws/face and therefore spread to other areas of her body. I don't think it's hard to imagine that the pepper spray could end up in her eyes or on her genitals.

The effects of pepper spray are difficulty breathing, temporary blindness lasting up to half an hour and burning skin lasting up to an hour. These effects do not just happen when the spray is sprayed, but when skin comes into contact with the residue.

This is not a case of a bad taste being associated with your shoes, but of a very strong chemical being used to cause a severe and longlasting physical reaction. The dog will be in severe pain for at least fifteen minutes and probably continue to be in substantial pain for up to an hour.

If you're still not convinced, I would encourage you to try it on yourself first before you use it on your dog, just to make sure you really want to do this to her. Spray pepper spray on something, preferably shoes. Lick the shoes, hold the shoes, rub the shoes on your hands, arms and face. Once you've done this, use your bare hands to try to wipe the spray away from your eyes.
posted by mosessis at 9:59 PM on May 17, 2009

If you have reason to believe that wiping a little bit of pepper spray on shoes to keep dogs from chewing them is cruel or too harsh, please let me know why

Please re-read the multiple of responses in this thread that do exactly this. For example:
- "The effects of pepper spray are far more severe, including temporary blindness which last from 15-30 minutes, a burning sensation of the skin which last from 45 to 60 minutes, upper body spasms which force a person to bend forward and uncontrollable coughing making it difficult to breathe or speak for between 3 to 15 minutes."

- dogs (and cats, to a lesser degree) have far keener senses when it comes to taste and smell

- A few years ago I was pepper sprayed. For days after the attack I couldn't take a hot shower because it opened my pores and burned like hell, even after scrubbing off in cold water.

- Dogs lick EVERYTHING. Their bodies, their paws, their skin, their butts, your hands, your face. They also lick their paws to wipe their face and eyes. Her skin will burn with pepper spray on it. Dogs don't have great tear ducts so if it gets in her eyes, she will be in a great great deal of pain.

- If you're so sure about pepper spray being fine for dogs, then why do NO dog training websites recommend it?

- even if you do find that putting something on your shoes gets your dog to stop chewing on them, you might find that you are stuck putting that stuff on your shoes for the rest of your dog's life. Or worse, your dog goes from chewing on your shoes to chewing on your furniture.

- This is not a case of a bad taste being associated with your shoes, but of a very strong chemical being used to cause a severe and longlasting physical reaction. The dog will be in severe pain for at least fifteen minutes and probably continue to be in substantial pain for up to an hour.
Those responses that make assumptions like I'm spraying the dog in the face with the pepper spray

This is a convenient strawman for you to set up to justify ignoring the near-unanimity of responses you're getting, but if you re-read carefully you will see that this is largely false.

Are there other ways to accomplish the same goal? Obviously. But I don't know or see any yet that are "better".

Well, given that these "other ways" that you so blithely dismiss have been suggested at some length by actual dog behavioralists and trainers (not to mention as numerous experienced dog owners and dog rescuers), it's indicative either of a reading comprehension problem or some combination of stubbornness and arrogance on your part to claim that no one has shown you a "better" way. Do you, in fact, believe you know more about dogs than animal behavioralists and trainers?

What it comes down to is this: the "other way" to train your dog requires thoughtfulness, compassion, patience, and consistency -- qualities you seem to be angry that are expected of you as a dog-owner, presumably because it suggests that you have to change your own behavior first in order to achieve success with your dog. It also means you would have to do more than pay lip service to your declaration on your user's page that you hate to see living creatures suffer; indeed, it requires that you actively expend the time and effort to refrain from inflicting suffering on a living creature.

There are no one-time, easy shortcuts to training a dog. It requires time and patience in order to build up that level of communication and, yes, closeness with an animal. Why do you insist you're not up to the task?
posted by scody at 10:36 PM on May 17, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't want our lives to be like, come home, find chewed shoe, say to each other, well it's our fault for leaving the shoe where she could get it.

If you have a dog, and they chew your shoe (or do anything you don't like), and you have to assign fault to someone, then it pretty much has to be you. Dogs can't make reasoned decisions, therefore it makes absolutely no sense to refer to anything as "the dog's fault".
posted by primer_dimer at 6:05 AM on May 18, 2009

I know you say you aren't going to spray it on the dog and only put it on the shoes, but it doesn't really matter in what way the pepper spray gets on the dog, it's going to have the same effect. Since you seem convinced and gung-ho about using pepper spray against everyone's advice, you might want to keep this information about the treatment of dogs exposed to pepper spray handy (as well as the phone number for your vet):

What to Watch For

# Squinting
# Crying
# Rubbing eyes/face
# Drooling
# Excessive licking
# Whining
# Reddened inflamed skin


Treating mace or pepper spray is based on which part of the body is affected. Most animals are sprayed in the face. Treatment consists of attempting to remove the spray by flushing the eyes and mouth with copious amounts of water. Typically, the eyes are stained with fluorescein to determine if there has been any chemical burn to the surface of the eyes.

Based on the results of this test, animals may require topical eye ointment.

Home Care and Prevention

If your pet has been sprayed with mace or pepper spray, flush his face, mouth and eyes with large amounts of water. This will help reduce some of the pain and remove excess spray. If your pet continues to squint or the eyes tear, veterinary examination is recommended in case the surface of the eyes has been damaged.
posted by Orb at 8:07 AM on May 18, 2009

OP, I get what you are saying, and what your intention is, but you might be missing the fact that even on the tongue, the pepper spray will probably get onto the face, giving the same reaction as if it were sprayed on. I don't think that was being communicated in a way that you could get.

And (yes, entering a bit of cheesiness), but to get what other people are upset about, this might simplify things.

Good luck.
posted by Vaike at 11:20 AM on May 18, 2009

You don't say where you are located, but in some jurisdictions using pepper spray on a dog for anything other than self-defense can be considered animal cruelty subject to criminal prosecution.

I know you have said you are not going to spray the dog, but spray your shoes, to discourage the dog. But if the dog takes enough of the shoe in her mouth to get a dose of the spray, the impact on the dog is still enormous. And keep in mind that just licking something with pepper spray on it may do enough damage that you will wind up having to take your dog to the vet.

If you don't want to believe us, fine. Call up your vet and ask him/her about your plan, and see what kind of a response you get.
posted by ambrosia at 12:47 PM on May 18, 2009

Think of it this way, if you wouldn't do it to yourself, voluntarily, don't do it to your dog. Before you consider making your dog chew on something with pepper spray, smear some on a cracker or something and dig in. I am really serious when I suggest this. If you can't make yourself do this, don't do it to your dog. Keep in mind that, as mentioned above, dogs have more sensitive senses than us as well.

And I realize there are some strongly worded posts here, but there is also a lot of good advice as well. Remember that your dog is still young and is still growing, and be patient and put her in a position to succeed. Have you considered crating the dog during the day, with lots of things to chew and various toys in the crate with them? Crating can be a useful habit to develop with some dogs, and in this case sounds like an option that would definitely put your pup in a successful position and might give you some piece of mind during the day.

Good luck.
posted by warble at 1:21 PM on May 18, 2009

Response by poster: A couple of thoughts on some of the newer posts.
Ambrosia, I never said I would spray the shoes. Did I? That would put far too much spray on there. You might need to reread my posts since you don't seem to understand a very basic point about the discussion. There might be other points you are missing. Overall, let's stick to responding to my actual words, in context, not nightmares about what a sadist would do.
Warble, I had planned on testing whatever I did on myself. Don't let the overall attitude about me influence your impression without evidence. I never said such because I chose to respond by pointing out flying over reactions and not by begging for understanding. I don't crave the understanding of those I fundamentally disagree with.
Second, it's my opinion that crating is very cruel. Caging/crating for 8-9+ hours 5 days/week, every week for years, as some people do, is awful in my opinion. Oh I know, they think it's their "safe place" and their "den", but last time I looked dogs could exit their dens when they felt like it. Oh I also know that dog trainers, vets, etc, love the crates. That proves to me the that the "experts" aren't always right, even if they do agree with each other. I'd like to see them locked in an 8x10 45 or more hours a week, every week, for years and years and see how they like it. it seems to me that getting a taste of pepper spray (once or twice until they learn not to mouth the shoes) is less stressful and does far less mental harm than crating. Talk about taking the easy way out as an owner. Instead of the crate, why not house train your dog and then let them be loose during the day?
Crates vs wiping a little bit of pepper spray on shoes. No contest. (Assuming that I think it's harmless after a taste test)
posted by atm at 2:17 PM on May 18, 2009

Try cayenne pepper first. Apply a smidgen of vaseline or a swipe of chapstick first. Dust on and tap off.
posted by spec80 at 2:46 PM on May 18, 2009

One other thing I would check is how it would affect the mucous membranes of the nose. I know there are a lot of things that would damage a dog's sense of smell, that would be fine on us. As certain foods are fine for us to eat, but can be toxic to a dog, I appreciate the 'self test' but it might not give you enough information to judge.

On a personal note, I do remember chopping up jalepenos, getting some oil on my fingers and touching the side of my nose and eye. I was in a surprising amount of pain for a surprising amount of hours. So if you do test on yourself, be sure and get just a dab in places your pet might, eye, nose, open cut, etc., as those places I feel would be a real issue of pain source.
posted by Vaike at 2:52 PM on May 18, 2009

Pepper spray on the tongue is painful no matter how it gets there. I'm not going to argue about delivery methods.

If you are going to complain that I'm not reading carefully to understand a basic point about the discussion, did you read cmonkey's description of being pepper sprayed? A few years ago I was pepper sprayed. For days after the attack I couldn't take a hot shower because it opened my pores and burned like hell, even after scrubbing off in cold water.

I look forward to hearing about the results of your "taste test." You are going to update us, aren't you? If only to prove that you aren't yanking our communal chains?
posted by ambrosia at 3:11 PM on May 18, 2009

Assuming that I think it's harmless after a taste test

Just to repeat, for the third or fourth time: your senses and a dog's senses are different. Dog's are far more sensitive to tastes and smells (this is why they can, you know, track using scent). Even if you find pepper-spray-on-a-cracker to be bearable, your dog might not. At the very least, please ask your vet.

Oh I also know that dog trainers, vets, etc, love the crates. That proves to me the that the "experts" aren't always right, even if they do agree with each other.

No, what this proves is that you assume you're automatically right if something doesn't happen to fit your preexisting assumptions or intuitions. It appears pretty obvious haven't ever owned a dog before -- if you had, I don't think you would have made the mistake of getting a puppy and then attributing the fact that it chews to her being "air-headed" -- and yet, you feel no reason to give any weight to people who have worked with dozens, hundreds, possibly even thousands of dogs.

I mean, on the subject of crating: I actually don't crate my dogs. But I've had about half a dozen dogs in my lifetime (four of them from when they were tiny puppies), and I do know that they like their own secure spaces. So I've chosen to mindfully create alternatives to crating (confining them to one or two rooms, creating semi-enclosed bed areas, making sure anything destructible is out of reach, etc.), and to take the personal responsibility for what might happen as a direct result of my decision to not crate my dog.

I rescued a dog just the other month -- a sweet, senior terrier. He'd never had his teeth cleaned. He'd never been neutered. He'd never been housetrained. He had chewed off about a third of his own fur as a result of a flea infestation, and had injured both his ears from violent scratching due to untreated ear infections. Like literally millions of animals every year, someone refused to take personal responsibility for doing right by him as a pup, and eventually he ended up 24 hours from being put down in the county shelter.

Look, no one (aside from a sociopath) gets a puppy and expects to neglect or abandon it. Many, many of those dogs who end up in shelters were chosen and loved as puppies. But then, they weren't properly trained, and they chewed. They peed in the house. They barked. They snapped. And on top of that: all those walks, and vet bills, a food bills, and last-minute vacations that couldn't be taken on a whim! They became an inconvenience to their owners. So their owners said -- ring any bells? -- "if there's a choice between inconveniencing them or me being inconvenienced, well, I win."

Becaue you profess publicly to value the sanctity of life: I beg you, for your dog's sake, to reexamine your attitude toward animal ownership with humility, rather than to dig your heels in with stubborness and arrogance. It is clear that you think you know better than anyone who you disagree with. But I would suggest that you entertain the notion, as difficult as it might be to you, that you may be wrong.

Your animal is ultimately helpless. She is trusting you to do the right thing. But the fact that you do love her doesn't mean you are automatically doing the right thing. My grandmother loved her dogs so much that she cooked a steak for them every single day of their lives, despite all advice (and even outright begging) from her vet and family not to. Each of those dogs died 6-8 years prematurely of congestive heart failure.

It takes enormous responsibility, patience, hard work, and commitment to become a good dog owner. In fact, truly good dog owners don't really even see themselves as owners; they see themselves as caretakers. Love is only the starting point; by itself, it is not enough.
posted by scody at 3:44 PM on May 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

Mod note: few more comments remoevd - your options are being decent and/or metatalk, please choose one of them. thank you
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:03 PM on May 18, 2009

Response by poster: Spec80 and Vaike, I hadn't thought of cayennes or jalapenos. Those would probably work. I'll have to test out strength, probably using txvtchick's advice from above. Thanks for the replies.
posted by atm at 8:11 PM on May 18, 2009

Oh my goodness, I am so sorry. My post must not have come across clearly. What I was trying to say is that I was surprised how much of a pain sensation the jalepeno oil gave me, and how long lasting it was. Getting these oils onto the mucus membranes in the nose was surprisingly painful.

Of course you do not want to inflict pain, rather make the shoes smell highly unappealing. Jalepeno or pepper probably would not do that.

Also, oddly, I have tried cayenne on my knees when they used to be painful. Everything was fine until I started sweating and then I had to wash my knees for quite a bit until the pain went away.

Also, I know I do not have a dog's sense of smell, but odor is not something I have noticed about peppers as a strong feature...
posted by Vaike at 10:13 PM on May 18, 2009

Here are other taste averse options along with cayenne pepper:

-Insect repellents, especially those containing citronella or citrus odors (check for toxicity, if it's safe for young children, it's generally safe for pets)
-Some hot sauces
-Some muscle rubs
-Citric odors (colognes, concentrated juices or fresh peels)
-Aloe gel

You could also try putting a cheap aluminum pie tin with dried beans (with another pie tin flipped over and taped shut so there isn't a mess) in the way or on top of your shoes or something that surprises your dog's hearing when he approaches/attempts to get the shoes.

Or you could try a heavy carpet runner with the pointy side up and leave your shoes on that surface.

You should try these before escalating to the pepper spray which honestly should only be used for protection against attackers. You want to save that stuff for when you need it.
posted by spec80 at 6:44 AM on May 19, 2009

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