Does your dog destroy everything in sight? Find the underlying causes behind this behavior and learn how to stop that destructive chewing.
First things first. Let’s try to understand why dogs chew.
Why do dogs chew?
Dogs are dogs, and chewing is a natural desire for most of them. Simply put, it’s just fun! So it’s not the chewing itself that is a problem, but chewing upon inappropriate things is. Being able to redirect their chewing towards more appropriate items like their own toys or bones is a great solution. (By the way, if your dog is a power chewer who destroys most toys in like two minutes, check out this toys and treats box designed specially for power chewers.)
Some dogs also chew when they are anxious or nervous, or just as an emotional outlet. Also, some dogs will use up their unspent energy in chewing.
Ok. So how should you prevent destructive chewing?
1. Dog Proof Your Home:
Now you are thinking – here I thought these were tips on how to teach my dog to behave better, and here you are giving me work to do? But step back and think about it – why do you want to test your dog’s self control? Just reduce tempting objects like shoes lying around for your dog to chomp on, and replace them with a plethora of things your dog would love to chew instead (see below).
Basically just take whatever you don’t want to end up in your dog’s mouth, and put it out of his or her reach. Examples of such objects could be shoes, books, clothes, of course medicines, and maybe even small appliances. Of course, you’ll need to take your dog’s size as well as agility into consideration here.
And then there’s food. Needless to say, don’t keep stuff like snacks or your dinner within reach of your dog.
By dog proofing your home, you don’t allow your dog to repeatedly enjoy the fruits of destructive chewing. The more the times she successfully manages to chomp on something she should not – your couch, a shoe or a shirt – the more she’s going to learn how much fun that is. She’ll want to do it more and more! So you should try to prevent her from chewing your stuff in the first place. If you can only dog proof one or two rooms in the beginning, try to not leave her unsupervised anywhere else.
2. Set clear boundaries
What is your dog’s stuff and what’s not? Don’t make these boundaries blurry. If you don’t want your dog to rip your good clothes, don’t offer her your old clothes as toys either — how is she going to know what you don’t want and what you do want?
Also don’t keep her toys right next to the kids toys – have separate areas for these so that she can get her toys when she wants from where she knows they are kept.
3. Provide her with lots of alternatives
Give her lots of interesting stuff to chew upon. If she has a lot of options she loves, its much less likely that she will divert her attention to your stuff. If you are looking for ideas on what to get her, check out this monthly subscription box made specifically for power chewers.
4. Actively supervise your dog
It’s not fair to your dog (or to you for that matter) to keep your dog in a restricted area for a majority of the time. You want to your dog to be a trusted member of the family who is free to roam around in the home. So invest the time and effort to let her go here and there. Tell her what is appropriate to chew upon and what is not.
5. Correct inappropriate behavior right away
When your dog does chew upon something inappropriate, indicate to her right away that she is making a mistake. You could startle her a bit by making a lot sound like by clapping your hands or making a loudish “Ah-ah-aaaah!” noise. Follow this up immediately by giving her one of her toys or treats, praise her heartily when she chews that. This the best way to get your dog to figure out that chewing “her” toys or treats means getting praise from you, while everything else spells trouble.
6. Be realistic
You are trying to get a behavioral change here, and a behavioral change is not instantaneous. So give your dog a chance – show her patience and love, and don’t get easily frustrated when she makes a mistake. Give her consistent messages and enough time, and you’ll reap rich rewards!
For some more information about how to handle problematic dog behavior (like chewing), we highly recommend that you check out Secrets to Dog Training.
Please note that in several places on this site, we have included affiliate links – what this means is that we get some money if you click on some of these links and buy any of these products or services. (There is absolutely no additional cost to you.) This is part of how we can spend the time and effort to keep up this site.