Stop Dog Chewing Problems

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Understanding Your Dog's Chewing Behavior

Dogs chew to explore their environment, similar to how children put objects in their mouths. Puppies chew to alleviate discomfort during teething, while adult dogs chew to maintain strong jaws and clean teeth. Boredom and anxiety can also lead to chewing.

To prevent destructive chewing, dog-proof your home by putting valuable items out of reach. Provide your dog with safe chew toys and bones, rotating them regularly to maintain interest. Avoid giving cooked bones that can splinter and cause harm.

Consider offering edible chews like bully sticks or pig ears, but monitor your dog to prevent choking. Identify peak chewing times and offer puzzle toys filled with treats to keep them occupied.

Discourage inappropriate chewing by using taste deterrents. Supervise your dog and redirect them to appropriate chew toys when necessary. Use confinement, such as crates or baby gates, when you can't supervise.

Regular exercise and mental stimulation can help reduce destructive chewing. Avoid confusing your dog by only providing distinct dog toys, not household items.

Recognize stress and frustration chewing, which can occur in shelter dogs or when a dog is prevented from reaching something exciting. Provide appropriate toys during potentially frustrating times.

Avoid punishing your dog for past chewing incidents, using inhumane methods like duct tape, or relying on long crating periods or muzzles to prevent chewing.

A curious puppy chewing on a rawhide bone on a rug in a home environment, exploring its surroundings through chewing.

Photo by oddityandgrace on Unsplash

Prevention and Dog-Proofing Your Home

Remove valuable and hazardous objects from your dog's reach. Store shoes in closed closets, keep remote controls out of reach, and place personal items on high shelves. Use baby gates to block off rooms that are difficult to dog-proof.

Provide plenty of appropriate chew toys in approved areas to satisfy your dog's chewing needs. Supervise your dog closely, especially during the learning phase, and redirect them to acceptable chew toys when necessary. Praise them for using the toys correctly.

Consistency is key. Ensure all family members follow the same supervision and redirection practices. With time, your dog will learn to distinguish between appropriate and off-limits items.

Training Techniques for Reducing Destructive Chewing

Use positive reinforcement and redirection to address destructive chewing. Establish clear verbal commands, such as "No" or "Leave it," to discourage inappropriate chewing. Redirect your dog to an appropriate chew toy and praise them when they comply.

Provide a variety of chew toys to keep your dog engaged and prevent boredom. Use deterrent sprays on forbidden items, giving your dog a small sample to taste before applying the spray.

Be patient and consistent during training. Dogs need time to learn acceptable behaviors. Stay calm and maintain a friendly attitude to keep your dog relaxed and receptive to training.

Regular exercise and mental stimulation are essential to prevent boredom-induced destructive chewing. Engage in interactive playtimes, provide puzzle toys, and take your dog for regular walks.

A dog owner training their attentive dog to redirect from inappropriate chewing to an appropriate chew toy using positive reinforcement techniques in a outdoor setting.

Providing Chew Toys and Physical Exercise

Choose safe, durable chew toys designed specifically for dogs. Look for rubber or nylon products that can withstand your dog's bite without breaking apart easily. Offer a diverse array of toys and rotate them regularly to maintain interest.

Puzzle toys filled with treats provide both a safe chewing option and mental stimulation. Regular walks and playtime are essential for burning off energy and reducing the likelihood of destructive chewing.

Training sessions, even short 10-minute sessions, can provide mental and physical stimulation while reinforcing good behavior. A well-exercised dog is generally a well-behaved dog, less likely to seek out inappropriate outlets for their energy.1

An engaged, mentally stimulated dog playing with a food-dispensing puzzle toy on a clean floor.

Consistency in training and providing appropriate outlets can redirect your dog's natural chewing behavior into positive actions. With time and patience, you can foster a harmonious living environment for both you and your furry friend.

  1. Horwitz DF, Pike AL. Common Sense Behavior Modification: A Guide for Practitioners. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2014;44(3):401-426.

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