The Whys and Hows of Stopping a Problem with Chewing
At some point of owning our furiend we will walk through the door to what looks like mass destruction of toys, slippers, their bed, you name it – they’ll chew it. Although our dogs make great use of their vision and sense of smell, unfortunately one of their favourite ways of taking in information is through their mouths.
Fortunately for you and me, chewing can be deflected onto appropriate items such as Kong Chew Toys, rather than your favourite Persian rug. It’s only until he/she has learnt what he can and cannot chew that all peace will be restored into your home. This means you need to manage the situation as much as possible and keep on top of the situation to make sure he/she doesn’t have the opportunity to chew on unacceptable objects.
Why Dogs Chew
Much like babies and toddlers, puppies explore the world by putting things in their mouths. And much like babies they also teethe for around 6 months, causing their teeth and gums much pain and discomfort. Chewing objects not only soothes their gums, but it also facilitates teething.
It’s not only puppies that partake in chewing though, our adult dogs will also engage in destructive chewing for a number of reasons. Before you can start and deal with the problem, you must first determine why your dog is chewing. Plus, you must always keep in mind that your dog isn’t destroying things to spite you. Here’s a few possible reasons as to why your dog is destroying things:
- He/she is bored
- He/she wants attention
- As a puppy, he/she wasn’t taught what he can and can’t chew
- His/her behaviour is fear related
- He/she suffers from separation anxiety
- His/her breed
Note: For the fear and separation anxiety you will be best to consult a professional.
What To Do
Take Responsibility. If you don’t want it in your dogs mouth, don’t make it available for them to pick up. Items left lying around in the reach of your pet will be picked up and chewed.
Give them Toys. Giving them toys may sound like you are giving them rewards/treats, but its not. If you give them toys that aren’t easy to distinguish between household items and toys, that shoe you’ve handed them as a toy, looks the same as the sock on your foot – they can’t distinguish between the two.
Supervision. Supervise your dog until he/she learns the house rules. Leaving your dog to have free run of your house is asking for trouble and will lead to items getting destroyed. If you have a dog-safe room, provide water and toys. If your dog is crate trained, you may also want to leave him/her in the crate for short periods of time.
People Time. Your dog adores you and thinks you are the best thing in his/her world, so make sure you provide them with lots of people time. Your dog won’t train himself – you need to be with him to train him to the behaviour you deem appropriate for your home.
Exercise. Give your dog plenty of mental and physical exercise. Just like a child, if they are bored and full of energy, they will find something to do which amuses them, and you probably won’t like the choices that he/she makes. On the other hand if they are tired and sleepy, they’re a good dog. Exercise, exercise, exercise – that is key.
My favourite way of deterring my puppy from chewing something she shouldn’t have been was to make a loud noise – a clap works, then handing them their own chew toy, followed by a lot of praise when they take the toy and play with it.
Toys Toys Toys. Build an obsession over their toys. If there is that particular toy that they love, carry around everywhere and sleep with, feed your dog with that toy. Kongs and Dublin Dog toys are great for this as you can stuff them with kibble, paste or anything you wish.
Chili Powder and Bitter Apple. Furniture, walls etc can be covered with a deterrent taste which will put your dog off from chewing on that particular item/feature.
Proceed with caution: Always supervise your dog when you first try this method. Some dogs will chew regardless of the off-putting taste. Remember to reapply – the deterrent can wear away after some time.
Don’t Chase. I cannot make this point more apparent. The more you chase a dog with an inappropriate item in his/her mouth, the more you are feeding his/her fun. Instead call him/her over and offer a treat in reward for putting the object down.
What Not To Do
Don’t discipline or punish your dog after they’ve destroyed the item, they’ve already had their fun, you’re too late.
Your dog will associate punishment with what they are doing that that moment in time, not what they did 5, 10 or 15 minutes ago. Some people believe that that ‘guilty look’ their dog is giving off is because they know what they’ve done.
In reality that ‘guilty look’ is actually a submissive behavioural act that happens when they feel threatened.
How do you stop your dog from chewing? Write it in the comments below!