How Do You Train a Dog to Stop Destructive Chewing?
Here's some useful information to help you deal with this behavior
The act of chewing seems to be a matter of individual preference among most dogs. Some dogs like to chew out of pleasure, while some seem to chew out of sheer boredom. In either case, when the chewing is destructive, it is definitely a problem that needs an immediate solution.
The phrase “destructive chewing” may sound redundant, simply because the very nature of chewing is to destroy something beyond its normal appearance. Your dog has strong jaws full of sharp, pointy teeth, and just about anything it starts to chew on is probably going to show the effects of your dog’s chewing almost instantly. However, to clarify, when using the phrase “destructive chewing”, we are referring to inappropriate chewing - the kind of chewing that focuses on your own possessions and household items, instead of on your dog’s designated toys and chews.
3 Main Reasons Why Dogs Chew:
- Most dogs have a natural desire to chew. It’s fun, it passes the time, and it’s a self-rewarding, self-reinforcing activity (for example, chewing on something that tastes good).
- Chewing provides a nervous, bored, or lonely dog with an outlet for its emotions. To an anxious dog, the repetitive act of chewing is soothing – it’s the doggie equivalent of comfort food.
- Dogs that do not get enough exercise often use chewing as a way of burning up nervous energy and giving themselves something to do.
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6 Ways to Prevent Destructive Chewing:
Dogs are perfectly capable of learning not to chew your stuff – you just have to put in a little effort first:
- Doggy-Proofing - Take control of the
situation by managing your own possessions. Your first step should be to
dog-proof your home. Even if you have the best-behaved dog in the world,
there’s still no reason to test its self-control; after all, dogs
explore the world with their mouths.
Dog-proofing your home means taking whatever you don’t want to end up in your dog's mouth, and making it unavailable. Considering your dog’s size and agility when deciding whether something’s out of reach, ask yourself these questions:
- Can my dog jump?
- Can my dog climb, or leap onto something else to reach the desired object?
- How tall is my dog when standing on its back legs?
Common targets in the home include books, eyewear, clothing, shoes, garbage, and small, crunchy appliances like cameras, cell phones, and remote controls.
It should go without saying that all food needs to be put securely away, so don’t leave snacks on low tables (or even countertops – you’d be surprised how acrobatic a dog can be when there’s food at stake!). Put all food into containers or in the pantry. Rinse and clean your dirty plates of any food scraps before leaving them to sit on the sink.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
Above all, remember to keep your expectations realistic. You’re not perfect, and neither is your dog. There is likely to be at least one incident where a cherished item may be damaged by your dog’s curiosity or it trying to test which items are acceptable for chewing.
Particularly in the early stages of your relationship, your dog is still learning the ropes; it’ll take awhile before it’s completely reliable. Even then, if left by itself for too long or it feels neglected, your dog may choose your stuff anyway to occupy its time and jaws. Remember to give your dog time to learn the rules, and plenty of ‘you-time’ to help it learn faster. Don’t forget to take precautions and keep things out of reach until your dog’s got the hang of the chewing rules!
If you REALLY want to end your dog's excessive chewing problem, you NEED to establish yourself as the “alpha dog” of the house.