How To Discourage Destructive Dog Chewing

Published Date: February 14th, 2008
Category: Dogs

By Susan Weslee

Dog chewing is normal canine behavior. If you’ve ever seen a large dog gnawing on a bone, you can appreciate his natural instinct at work.

Dog chewing behavior varies within breeds and individual dogs. From the largest Great Dane to the smallest Chihuahua, one thing is certain…all dogs love to chew. Dogs chew for many reasons; teething discomfort, boredom, to learn about their surroundings, and even just for fun!

Puppies are especially prone to chewing, and will grab anything that they find appealing. If it’s left on the floor, it’s fair game. Shoes, socks, slippers, and children’s dolls can easily be carried off by a scurrying young puppy.

When dogs begin to chew inappropriate objects such as shoes, furniture, baseboards, walls and other items, the chewing becomes destructive, and the behavior needs to be corrected.

Destructive dog chewing usually occurs after your puppy has been housetrained. He’s now supervised less, and allowed to move around the house more…and often the opportunity to grab and gnaw on items are too tempting to resist.

The best way to discourage this type of behavior is to remove the tempting items. Dirty laundry should be stored in a hamper before laundering-not heaped in a pile or tossed on the floor. Shoes and slippers belong in the closet, not in your dog’s bed. Children’s toys should be kept away from the puppy’s favorite toys.

Provide your puppy with plenty of his own toys for chewing, both indoors and outside. Pet stores and grocery stores carry a large variety of chew toys and treats from which to choose. Rope bones, hard rubber bones, plastic bones, stuffed Kong toys, and other non-edible products provide safe alternatives and satisfy your dog’s chewing instincts.

With so many quality edible chew treats on the market, they offer a much safer alternative to meat and poultry bones, which have a tendency to splinter and cause injury to your dog.

Special stuffed toys, like the Kong, are ideal for teaching appropriate chewing behavior. This toy, made of hard rubber, has a hollow center, which can be filled with small treats, hard cheese, raw carrots, or apple pieces. Your dog needs to work to get at the food in the toy’s center. This activity keeps your puppy occupied, and out of mischief. It teaches appropriate dog chewing behavior, which is exactly what you are striving to do.

To develop proper dog chewing behavior, you’ll need to monitor and supervise your puppy during his first year or so. One way to teach appropriate dog chewing especially if you are unable to supervise or not at home, is to place him in his crate with his favorite chew toys.

To discourage furniture or wall chewing, apply pet training aid products containing “bitter apple” or “bitter orange”, directly to the surface. Most dogs will find this taste to be unpleasant and repelling, and will stop chewing with repeated applications.

Provide your dog with plenty of exercise. Mental and physical stimulation will reduce boredom and stress, and reduce the likelihood of chewing those inappropriate items. Above all, don’t scold or punish him for destructive chewing. While it’s tempting to yell “bad dog”, you’ll accomplish little in the way of redirecting his dog chewing to more appropriate behavior.

The keys to successfully training your dog to overcome destructive dog chewing include plenty of patience, persistence, and consistency. Praise and positive reinforcement also go a long way toward developing appropriate chewing behavior.

While you can’t eliminate his urge to chew, it’s up to you to provide acceptable alternatives and redirect his energy to chew on more appropriate objects.

Susan Weslee is an avid dog owner and writer. She is creator and webmaster of a successful dog training website that provides basic training tips and information to new dog owners.

If you found this article of interest, please visit the author’s website, for more tips and information.

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