Problem chewing in your dog can leave you down a few pairs of shoes, a couch cushion, or a TV remote. If you have to get off your raggedy couch cushion and walk to your TV each time you want to change the channel, you can attest that it’s best to end this destructive behavior as soon as possible.
Here are some ways to stop problem chewing in your dog. First, dog-proof your living space. Stopping problem chewing in your dog will not be an instant fix, so make sure that your dog can’t chew up anything too valuable as you train them to change their behavior.
If you can’t dog-proof your entire house, you may want to sequester your
dog in a room that can be largely dog-proofed. Take away any objects or furniture that may tempt your dog to problem chew. Litter the room with alternative items for your dog to gnaw on, like chew toys or toys that dispense treats.
Notice what your dog enjoys. When your dog is happily munching away at a specific toy or inedible bone, take note. This will be helpful not only by keeping their attention but by diverting them if they get a hold of one of your shoes.
Redirect your dog’s attention. If you catch your dog in the act, don’t chase after them. They may see it as a game if you take chase after they grab a hold of your favorite novel. Instead, clap your hands or get your dog’s attention with your voice. Once you get their attention, offer
up a substitute for whatever they have in their mouth. Entice them with one of their chew toys or a treat.
If they start to play with a chew toy instead, give your dog praise and let them know they are now doing the right thing. Scratch them behind the ears. Let them know they are a good dog. It takes time for learned behavior to sink in, so don’t lose patience if you have to redirect your dog
more than a few times. Be calm and consistent with your training to stop problem chewing.
Exercise with your dog on a regular basis. Take them out, toss them a ball or Frisbee, and get them tired. This not only leaves them with less energy to destroy your house and everything in it, it will give you quality time with your dog. They could be problem chewing for attention, so engaging with them could help stem their bad behavior. Exercise is especially important if you are keeping your dog in a smaller, dog-proofed space.
Train them. Not only will they be more responsive when you catch them problem chewing, regular obedience training will give your dog mental stimulation.
Talk to your dog’s veterinarian. They are trained professionals with ample experience, and they may have an idea about the underlying issue that is causing your dog’s problem chewing. Perhaps your dog is dealing with separation anxiety or territorial issues. Once you identify the problem, you can fix not only how your dog expresses themselves but the underlying reasons for the problem chewing as well.
If you have tried training your dog, redirecting their attention, dog proofing your house, and getting your dog ample exercise, you could also ask your vet about certain aversive sprays that would give any items your dog tries to chew a bitter flavor. However, this is best to use only
as a short term fix while you try some of the other options listed above to stop problem chewing in your dog.
Learn more about curbing dog behavior in “Taming the Yap, How to Control Nuisance Barking”.