This page might contain affiliate links that will earn me a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Chewing is a basic instinct for dogs, and it commonly happens when they are bored, anxious, or lonely. The pets make use of their mouths to explore their surroundings, in the same way that people use their hands.
Puppies are especially serial chewers during the teething process. The fun, however, stops when they start targeting your possessions, including books, cellphones, upholstery, clothes, shoes, and plastics.
Why do Dog Chew on Things?
A dog will chew on items for several reasons, including:
Growing puppies will go through the teething process at the age of between four to thirty weeks. Nothing is off-limits as they need to relieve the discomfort they feel.
They will naturally explore any item within their reach, by chewing, licking, and sniffing. Most adult dogs will lose this urge to chew, although some dogs still continue chewing into maturity.
If you leave your dog home all day, the chances are that they are bored and will resort to chewing and other destructive behaviors.
Most pets need a constant supply of mental stimulation to become engaged and enriched. If your dog is bored, the easiest way to combat this is to provide treat puzzles and toys.
Lack of Physical Exercise
Dogs are very welcoming of physical activities, especially in the outdoors. Any pent-up energy in your dog can be channeled in the form of destructive chewing.
Include about 30 minutes of running, playing, and walking into their daily schedule. You can also opt for dog sports and games with other dogs.
Dogs become attached to their owners, and they get separation anxiety when the owners leave. Some pet owners have reported coming home to a messy house, which may include chewed shoes and furniture.
An anxious dog will most likely channel the frustration to whatever that is lying on the floor. Teaching your dog to be alone is the first step in training your dog not to engage in destructive activities.
Anxiety and Stress
A dog can chew on things when they are exposed to situations that result in stress, like another animal that they do not like.
Ensure that your dog is not around things that frustrate them to reduce the chances of them chewing on things.
How to Prevent a Dog from Chewing?
There are few things you can do to prevent your dog chewing:
Dog-Proof Your Home
Managing the environment is the first step in stopping your dog from chewing. If you have a puppy, evaluate your home for anything that may attract their curiosity like children’s toys and shoes.
You should remove items that are valuable and those that are at the dog’s level. Dangerous items should be cleared as well, including toxic plants and electric cables. If you are at home, confine the pet to the room you are in, and close the doors to other rooms.
Only leave the dog’s toys on the floor, and direct them there. Children’s toys can look similar to those of your dogs, so it is best to confine the dog in their own exercise pen.
Provide Chewing Toys
Encouraging constructive chewing will satisfy your dog’s need to chew. Every dog prefers to chew on something different, so it is up to you to know what your dog likes. Pet stores will typically have shelves of dog chew toys and treats. You can get flavored chew toys, rubber bones, or smart puzzles for your dog to chew.
Observe the items that your dog likes to chew on for long periods, and supply more of them. It is better to rotate the toys or supply something new after several days to prevent the dog from getting bored. You can invest in 10 to 15 toys to keep on rotation.
Only present your dog with toys that have been designed for chewing. Refrain from presenting the pet with cooked bones like chicken wings because they can splinter and cause harm to your dog.
Supervision is recommended with determined chewers since they can rip some toys apart and swallow the smaller pieces. These pieces can be dangerous if they find their way into the pet’s small intestines or esophagus.
Small toys can also be swallowed, so get the appropriate size for your dog.
When offering treats and toys, ensure they do not resemble the things you do not want your dog to chew on, as this can be confusing.
If you present them with an old shoe, for example, they will have a go at any other shoe and will not understand the difference with the previous toy.
You should also relieve the teething problems of puppies. No matter how much you train the pet, they can still resort to chewing if they are uncomfortable. Freeze a wet cloth and give to the dog to soothe the discomfort.
Negative reinforcement will be useful in discouraging your dog from inappropriate chewing. You require to teach them that it is wrong to chew on some things while encouraging them to chew on their toys.
If you find them chewing on inappropriate items, take it away and scold the pet with a command like “Bad dog!” Once the dog releases the object, reaffirm the behavior by praise and by giving them their toys. Do not chase the dog as they can think it is a playful game.
Do not scold the dog after finding him with the inappropriate item because the dog cannot link the punishment with the action.
If you hit the dog, you can trigger more frustration from them which may result in more disastrous behavior.
The next step in training involves positive reinforcement with a goal to encourage “good chewing.” If you observe your dog chewing on their toy or treat, affirm the action with a verbal cue like “good job!”
Pair the action with praises and other treats so that the dog associates the good results with chewing the “right” item.
You can also teach the dogs commands for leaving the inappropriate item. To start, conceal two treats in each of your fists and let the dog sniff on one.
Command the dog to “leave it” as it sniffs and licks your hand but do not give it the treat. Once the pet loses interest, give it the other treat, and offer positive affirmations.
Repeat the procedure until the dog learns to move away from your first upon hearing the “leave it” command.
Dogs need exercise through physical stimulation. Hide and seek, tug-of-war and fetching are all exciting games to do with your pet.
Give them at least two walks every day. You can also scout for areas where they can play off-leash, and satisfy the basic instinct to explore the environment.
Dogs also crave interactions with people as well as other dogs. Play with the pet often, and you can engage in a host of indoor games.
The goal is to channel your dog’s extra energy into more constructive activities. Instead of leaving the dog idling at home when you are work, consider taking them to a daycare.
While training your dog to chew on only their toys and treats, you will have to monitor them closely. Your dog can go back to chewing when you are not around, and this can be frustrating.
You can opt to confine them in a crate or pen when you leave for work and keep baby gates to keep the pet out of other rooms. Continue with the training when you are at home, and reinforce positive behavior.
Enroll them in a daycare or hire a dog walker if you will be gone for long periods. It is vital that your dog’s energy is well-spent every day so that they cannot direct it onto your items.
There are aversives specifically designed to discourage from chewing on items. Anti-chew sprays, vinegar, and pepper are common solutions.
They will be typically applied to a certain object to render it distasteful to your pet.
A good spray should be non-toxic, and it should only have pet-safe ingredients. Check the labels on the spray, particularly if your dog has sensitivities and allergies.
It should also be strong and effective to discourage your dog from nibbling.
While training your dog, refrain from the following actions:
- Do not punish your dog if you find them with an appropriate item. Some books recommend hitting a dog or even putting duct tape over its mouth, and it is not only inhumane, but it will only frustrate your dog more. Hitting the dog is ineffective, and they will not learn not to chew on “bad items” after the punishment.
- Do not confine your pet on a crate or pen for too long to prevent them from chewing. Six hours should be the maximum period, as they need to move around and exercise.
- Refrain from muzzling your pet or tying a damaged item on them.
Dog owners will deal with determined chewing from their pets at one point or another. When puppies are teething in particular, it may look like the chewing behavior will not abate.
You can only hope the chewing instinct disappears as they grow, but it is possible to train them to only chew on their toys and treats. You will rely on both negative and positive reinforcement so that they learn the items that can be chewed.
Be realistic when training your pet as they will learn at their own pace.