8 Ways to Keep Your Dog from Chewing Your Stuff
Chewing is a common canine behavior. It helps dogs satisfy their curiosity as they explore the world. Unfortunately, some pets may engage in problematic or destructive chewing. Their teeth can leave a trail of damage that is very frustrating. Some dogs like to chew things like shoes, furniture, or clothing — even destroying expensive possessions.
Destructive chewing is a common problem many dog owners face, however there are a few simple methods to stop this destructive behavior. Here are six ways to curb your dog's destructive chewing.
Understanding Why Dogs Chew
Dogs and puppies chew items for a variety of reasons. Chewing helps puppies explore their environment. Like toddlers, they learn about their world by placing items into their mouths. Young pups begin teething around six months old. Chewing objects helps relieve pain that may be caused by incoming teeth.
If your puppy picks up a the wrong item, distract him with a loud cry to get them to drop it. Once they drop it, give them another toy. When your pet starts teething, give it a frozen wet washcloth or soak then freeze a rope bone toy. The cool sensation will soothe their gums, and the puppy won't swallow any pieces.
Destructive chewing is a problem found mainly in adult dogs. There are several reasons why an older dog may chew:
- Separation anxiety
Dogs don't chew things they're not supposed to out of revenge or malice. You may need to hire a behavioral therapist so they can identify the source of your dog's behavior. Your pet may be gnawing items because of separation anxiety or fear. Once you know why your dog chews, use the following methods to curb its destructive behavior.
"Dogs don't chew things they're not supposed to out of revenge or malice. This may be happening because of separation anxiety or fear." TWEET THIS
8 Ways to Redirect Your Dog's Destructive Chewing
1. You must dog-proof your house to prevent your pet from chewing favorite items.
Create an environment that will encourage your dog to behave. The only way to save your favorite possessions is to keep them from your dog's reach. Put away favorite items that pets can get to — like shoes and slippers. Keep clothing, trash, and other items inaccessible.
2. Next, give your pet toys that don't remind them of household items.
Owners should redirect their dog's behavior if they're gnawing on household items. You should take away inappropriate items and give them toys. Only allow them to play with chewable toys that are distinguishable from regular household goods. Don't confuse your pet by allowing them to play with old socks or slippers.
Acceptable toys are those aren't easily consumed and can change shape while your pet chews them. They include:
- KONG toys
- Large rawhide knots
- Old shoes
- Scrap wood
- Phone books
3. Use bad tasting repellents and sprays to stop your dog from chewing.
Coat furniture and items with deterrents to make them taste unappealing. Sprays, like Bitter Apple and Boundary Dog Repellent, can deter your pet from biting objects. Use a Scat Mat if your pet loves snatching items from countertops.
Some dogs will continue to chew even after you apply the repellent. You must continue to reapply the deterrent to ensure it is effective.
4. Supervise your dog until they learn how to behave indoors.
Keep pets on a leash, so they don't make a mistake. When you can't watch your fur baby, confine them in a puppy-proofed room, while of course giving them fresh water and appropriate toys. You may also leave your pet in a crate to prevent them from getting into trouble. Also, some dogs don't mind small bathrooms or the kitchen area, if they don't like crating.
5. Give your pet physical and mental exercise.
Insufficient exercise can cause your dog to find other types of entertainment. Pets get into trouble when they're bored. Make sure your dog gets plenty of physical and mental activity throughout the day. Exercise releases endorphins in dogs' bodies. It has a calming effect that makes them less likely to engage in destructive chewing behaviors.
Indoor games, like hide-and-seek, fetch, and tug-of-war, are great ways to tire your pet. If weather permits, take your dog on short walks to release their energy.
6. Train your dog.
Spend time as much time training your pet as needed to correct bad behaviors. They can't learn on their own.
7. Address separation anxiety issues.
Sometimes chewing is a symptom of separation anxiety. Dogs are pack animals. They need social interaction. Your pet may not feel confident when they're alone to defend their territory.
You can use a crate to help reduce your pet's separation anxiety while you're gone. Owners should not punish their dogs by putting them inside of crates. Instead, only use crates for positive reasons. Once your dog is in the crate, don't give a long, emotional goodbyes.
Rub your dog's toy between your hands to impart your scent. The smell will help your pet focus on the object, instead of its fear. Your scent also makes the item more appealing to chew. A meat-scented toy, like NylaboneTM, is also an excellent choice for pets.
Bring your pet to a South Boston Animal Hospital veterinarian if they continue to suffer from separation anxiety. Our veterinarians will examine your pet, and provide tips that can help address this problem.
8. Be gentle when correcting your pet.
Animals associate punishment with what they're doing at the moment. Don't use inhumane methods (like duct tape) to prevent your pet from chewing. You should never correct your pet by hitting them. Don't chase your dogs if they grab objects. Dogs enjoy people chasing them. It's fun. Instead, distract your dog, and offer treats for the items.
Inhumane methods are not only harsh; they also don't work. The above techniques, along with daily exercise can take care of most destructive chewing problems.
Pet owners should have realistic expectations. Your dog will eventually chew something you don't want them to. You can't always control their behavior, but using the above recommendation can reduce their destructive chewing habits. South Boston Animal Hospital can help pets suffering from chewing issues and separation anxiety. Schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians today.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.