Skip to main content

Get reimbursed on your pet's routine care with Mint Wellness by Pet Assure! Enroll Today >

Sit. Stay. Read.

Ask Dr. Jenn: How can I stop my Jack Russell from chewing everything?

I adopted my darling 1 1/2 year old Jack Russell terrier mix two weeks ago. Since then, she has destroyed my leather recliner and three pair of shoes. She has chewed up a large chew bone and a bag full of rawhide chew sticks as well. How do I train her not to chew up anything not for her?

May 31, 2023 3 min read
Ask Dr. Jenn: How can I stop my Jack Russell from chewing everything?

Congratulations on your new pet. I am sure she is adorable! Chewing can be a frustrating behavior because it is self-rewarding. It is a natural behavior for most dogs, and they get pleasure from it, so it is almost impossible to stop them from chewing completely.  You are on the right track with training her to only chew on appropriate toys.

I am assuming she is not chewing up the chair or your shoes when you are watching her. The first step is to restrict access to these items when you are not directly supervising her. Crate training is essential. Your trainer or veterinarian can provide you with some tips on how to make her comfortable in her kennel. Make sure she has lots of appropriate chew toys in her kennel to keep her busy. Keep the rawhide chew sticks out of her reach and out of sight. Put them in a cupboard or closet. If she really loves the chew sticks, you could give her one only when you put her in her crate, making it a special reward she can associate with kenneling up.

If you catch her chewing on your shoes or furniture, give her a firm reprimand then redirect her to an appropriate chew toy. The reprimand will only be effective if you catch her in the act of chewing. It will not be of any benefit to yell at her after the fact. Five minutes after she stopped chewing on that shoe, she has forgotten about it. She will not associate that you are upset about a shoe she chewed on earlier in the day and will be confused as to why you are yelling at her.

Make sure she has plenty of desirable toys to chew on at all times. Look for toys that have spaces for you to put treats in. There are recipes online to stuff chew toys. Freezing the treat-stuffed toys makes the reward last longer.  Give her an abundance of praise when chewing on appropriate chew toys. Make her feel like the best dog in the world just for chewing on her toy.

It is also important to try to determine why she is chewing. Dogs chew on things for a number of reasons. Some dogs just chew because they like it. But other dogs will chew as a way to reduce anxiety. The anxiety may be due to a new home or separation anxiety when left alone. Strange noises can startle some dogs and lead to anxiety. Dogs with lots of energy chew as a way to play and get their energy out. Puppies between the ages of four and six months chew when teething.

All the training and rewards will not be effective if there is an underlying cause of her chewing behavior. Based on her age, we know your little girl isn’t teething but look in her mouth to make sure she doesn’t have red gums, sores, or broken teeth. Terriers are high-strung dogs. They tend to have a lot of energy and are also prone to anxiety.  Make sure she is getting plenty of exercise every day. Does she seem anxious? Signs of anxiety include pacing, panting, and restlessness. With separation anxiety, some dogs panic the second their person leaves the house. Is the behavior worse during thunderstorms, when fireworks are being set off, or if there are loud noises in your neighborhood? Your dog likely has noise phobia creating anxiety.  If anxiety is the problem, talk with your veterinarian about medications and training techniques that can help reduce anxiety.

Again, congratulations on your darling terrier. Remember that her world has suddenly completely changed overnight and she needs time to adjust. Continue to work with her and hopefully, she will become your perfect dog. If you are struggling, find a licensed dog trainer to help guide you.

Ready to start saving money on pet wellness care?

Then take a look at Mint Wellness, the pet wellness plan that provides fast reimbursement on routine pet care. Save on vaccinations, wellness exams, preventatives, dental, and more!

Learn More