Most dogs have a natural instinct to chew, that much we all know. The problems arise when they chew on the wrong things. Today I am going to talk about how to get your dog to stop chewing on things that they shouldn’t.
Puppies are by far the worst culprits when it comes to chewing on things that they shouldn’t. If you have ever been through the puppy stage, then you know what I mean. Although we think that it is only a puppy problem, many adults’ dogs can also be quite destructive. So how do we stop this from becoming a problem?
Why is it important to change this behaviour?
It doesn’t matter if your puppy or your adult dog is the one chewing everything that isn’t nailed down. The bottom line is that you need to stop this behaviour right away. Not curbing this type of action can lead to a lifetime of destroyed items in your home.
Sometimes we see our dogs with items that they aren’t supposed to have in their mouth, and we think it is cute or funny to see. The truth of the matter is that even 1 or 2 times of letting this behaviour slide can lead to a lifetime of not being able to trust your dog when your back is turned. Having a dog in the house is supposed to be fun, soothing, and not a completely stressful experience. Imagine chasing your dog around the house FOREVER to get something out of their mouth!! Nobody wants that.
Besides that, there is the danger and risk to their health from eating and ingesting things they aren’t supposed to eat. This is one of the other huge reasons that we don’t want this type of behaviour to continue.
When dogs are puppies, we talk about puppy proofing your home of all things that they can get into. This is much like having a toddler in the house. You don’t want grabby hands pawing at everything. The same goes for puppies too. Puppies can rip, tear, and destroy things very quickly. Literally it only takes a few minutes of distraction to have your favourite pair of socks, furniture, shoes, homework and so much more destroyed.
Besides not being able to trust your dog when your back is turned, having a dog that thinks they are in charge, is never a good idea. You always want your dog to be well-
balanced and disciplined.
Why do they do it?
Stopping and not allowing your dog to chew on non-approved dog items happens, but why do they do it?
I talked about how puppies can be the biggest culprits of chewing things other then dog toys. This is because a puppy discovers the world through their mouth. They explore and investigate by putting it in their mouth to see what it is.
Puppies start teething exceedingly early, from 3-8 weeks of age. Once these deciduous teeth erupt in the mouth, the permanent teeth follow and are usually completely in by 6 months of age.
A teething puppy chews because they are teething, and their gums are sore. Remarkably similar to a baby that is teething. This natural instinct to chew to get relieve is something they can’t help doing, so scolding them for teething really doesn’t make much sense. So, for that reason, we want to make sure that we give them things that are OK to chew.
Adult dogs on the other hand have their teeth already, so why is it they are still chewing on the wrong things?
This question actually has a pretty easy answer……BOREDOM, TOO MUCH ENERGY. A dog that is looking for a distraction and something to do, can very easily lead to a dog that chews on the wrong things.
The last reason that your dog may chew on everything, could be due to medical issues. Dogs will often eat something because they are feeling bad and what to vomit to feel better. Things like parasites, Pica and just any type of stomach issue can be the cause of unwanted chewing. Chewing can be a coping mechanism for dogs that are suffering in silence. For this reason, taking your dog to your Veterinarian, is always a good first stop. They can help you access if there is an actual health issue, or if it is just a behaviour issue.
How do you stop it?
Whether it is a dog or a puppy that is displaying this destructive chewing behaviour, don’t panic, as there are things that we can do to help stop it from happening.
In my opinion this can be a bit easier to do with a puppy then an adult dog. Puppies are sponges at that young age and are looking to find out what their boundaries are. If you have strict rules, discipline and are consistent with your puppy every time that they grab something they aren’t supposed to chew, you will be far more successful. The second that they reach for something you don’t want them to have, you replace it with something they can have. It is just that simple!
#2 STRONG COMMANDS/DISCIPLINE
Using strong commands like “LEAVE IT” or “NO”, then it won’t take them long to understand what is OK and what is not! When you give them the replacement object, also make sure to incorporate a ton of positive praise like ”Good Boy” with excitement. Dogs want to please us, so if they know that they will get that from you, they will be looking for it more often.
With an older dog, you can still apply these same technics, but it may take a little longer for them to get it. BE CONSISTENT!! Sometimes if a dog is an adult, you are having to correct their bad chewing behaviour that they have learned in their past and therefore it is more of retraining them. Don’t panic as it can be done!
Make sure you realize that being patient at this stage and standing your ground by not giving in is how you achieve this successfully.
Now some dogs are just way more-high strung then other dogs and that means that destructive chewing happens because they have far too much energy and need something to do. The quick and easy fix for this scenario is EXERCISE and PLAYTIME!
A tired dog is a more well-behaved dog, there is no question about it!
#4 CHEW TOYS
When a dog is looking to lay down and looking to chew, make sure that they have a nice assortment of good dog chew toys for them to chew on. Be sure that the things you are giving them are “dog approved”
chew toys. Things like the KONG classic toy, Nylabones, rubber tug toys, or any super tough dog toy that is rated for a tough chewer.
No matter what you give your dog to chew, make sure that they are supervised when they are doing it. Nothing is completely indestructible and if supervising them, you can quickly step in if they start to destroy whatever they have.
For a more difficult dog, that just doesn’t want to leave things alone, you can opt for a more dramatic approach and use things like bad taste repellents. One of the most popular is the “Bitter Apple” spray. You just simply spray it on the item that you want them to stay away from. The smell and taste of the repellent will deter them from going near it. This is a great option if you have tried everything else without success.
When it comes to how to get your dog to stop chewing on things that you don’t want them chewing on, sadly there is no magic quick fix. The truth is that it doesn’t matter if you have a puppy or an adult dog, it takes work to train your dog to leave things alone.
A dog that chews on everything is a dog that is crying out for exercise, discipline, and affection. In that order, just like Cesar Milan says.
Obviously, a puppy needs different variations of this then a full-grown dog.
Just as an example, a puppy has lots of energy, but they tire out much easier, so you don’t need to work as hard to physically tire them out.
There are also stark contrasts in how fast a puppy can learn something versus a dog that you are trying to retrain from already learned bad behaviour. An older dog needs to change their way of responding and listening from what they were used to. In some cases, they may have never had any boundaries at all, so you are literally starting from scratch.
I always suggest exercising your dog before you try to accomplish new boundaries and rules. If they have less pent-up energy, they are more apt to listen to you, which leads to more focus.
Whatever situation you find yourself in with your dog, if you don’t want everything you own destroyed, then you need to take these steps to stop it.
Anytime I see a dog that has destroyed someone’s flooring, walls, doors, and so much more, my first thought is, they aren’t crate trained. I believe that crate training will help solve any destructive issues when you aren’t there to supervise. So if your dog isn’t crate trained, and they are completely destructive, then why not crate train them now!
Freedom and trust need to be earned!
When you are home, you are the teacher. What you say goes and if you replace and reward them with an approved chew toy, you will be surprised how quickly your dog will just stop trying for something they aren’t supposed to have.
Best of luck to all of you, and I hope that my chewing tips will help you and your dog.