You like your new shoes, and so does your dog, but he doesn’t want to wear them, he wants to chew them! Not only can your companion canine’s destructive behavior be an expensive problem, it can mean that he is bored, anxious or teething. All dogs like to chew. This is normal behavior. The act of chewing exercises their jaws and helps keep teeth and gums clean. It also helps ease the pain of teething for puppies. By encouraging him to chew on his own toys, however, you can help stop your dog from chomping on your furniture and other inappropriate items. It’s your job to make sure he has plenty of options. Rawhide chews, sterilized bones and sturdy, hard rubber or plastic toys are suitable. Never give your dog old shoes or other personal items of yours to chew on-he can’t tell the difference between old and new, and many assume that anything with your scent on it is fair game. And be sure to praise him when he chews on his own toys instead of the leg of your couch. If your dog goes to town on your home furnishings when you’re away, always remember to leave him confined with his favorite toys. You might even try inserting some cheese spread or peanut butter in the clean hollow of a toy. A Kong toy is great for this. Getting to the treat inside will both stimulate and occupy a dog that is left home alone. Keep things interesting by alternating toys. Give him some of his favorite and switch them with the rest every few weeks. You should also make sure he is fully exercised before you leave the house. This can help eliminate the frustration and boredom that lead to destructive behavior. If your dog is causing major household damage, you’ll need to do two things: Make sure he’s getting enough exercise, and always confine him to a training crate or a dog-proof room when no one is around to monitor his activities. As a general rule, you can keep him crated no longer than one hour for every month of his age. This is especially recommended for canine adolescents who haven’t yet had sufficient time or training to know what they’re allowed to play with. And remember, firmly telling him “no!” is only effective when you catch him in the act of destructive chewing-not even five minutes after the fact. If your dog is chewing and thrashing out of separation anxiety, simply confining him will not solve the problem. You’ll need to deal with the separation anxiety or your pet may do serious harm to himself while in panic. See our section of separation anxiety.