Understand and Prevent Dog Chewing
Is your dog guilty of chewing almost everything in your house? Do you live with a tattered sofa, missing socks, torn shoes? Are you at the end of your leash with dog chewing?
It can be frustrating at times having to tolerate your dog and trying to discipline him/her. Well the bad news is, all dogs chew. But, don’t panic! There are ways to redirect your dog’s chewing into less destructive behaviours.
Before redirecting your dog’s energy, let’s first understand why your dog is chewing.
- Dog chewing is just as natural as babies sucking and chewing on anything. Dogs are curious critters who like to explore everything with their mouths. Whenever it looks they’re trying to chew on your favourite pair of sneaker shoes, they’re actually trying to ‘feel’ the shoes. Only it gets tattered and you’re left with a mismatched shoe. Oops!
- Puppies 3 to 6 months of age often chew to relieve teething pain, again, same with babies.
- Some dogs chew to get your attention, or to get treats.
- Dog chewing can also be associated with anxiety and stress. When they feel stressed due to confinement or is experiencing separation anxiety, they turn to chewing to make them feel a little better.
- Chewing relieves boredom in dogs. Dogs get bored too.
- Dogs who have lack of training tend to chew on inappropriate objects.
Now that we know dogs don’t chew out of spite, we can properly eliminate, or at least lessen the problem. What can you do when your dog starts on its chewing streak? Start by identifying the cause – is your dog teething, does it want your attention, is it bored or anxious, has it been trained properly, is your home dog-proofed? To eliminate the problem of dog chewing, you can start implementing the following tips:
- Dog-proof your home.
Before taking your new puppy home, put away any chewable and valuable belongings that your puppy might get his/her paws on. These include your books, shoes and clothing. Store them in a place where your puppy can’t reach them.
- Give your dog plenty of toys.
Instead of chewing on furniture or on your belongings, train your dog to chew on toys. Dogs chew a lot so provide them with plenty of dog toys that are chewable, safe and appropriate.
- Give your dog a teething toy.
If your dog is experiencing discomfort due to teething, invest in some patented teething toys. Or you can simply give your dog a wetted and frozen washcloth to chew.
- Limit your dog’s access to your house.
Wait for your dog to be completely chew-trained before giving it full access to your house. Your dog will be subjected to failure if you let it roam freely only to be swatted away when it starts chewing on things around the house. So to avoid this, supervise your dog or temporarily confine in a crate or room.
- Consistently interact with your dog.
When a dog gets bored or frustrated, it chews on anything just to let out boredom and frustration. Remember dogs are social animals so spend as much time as possible with your dog. Keeping your dog healthy by exercising also diverts their attention from chewing. Do this consistently to make your dog feel animated most of the time.
- Redirect the chewing habit.
With supervision and confinement, you will now be able to tell your dog ‘no’ when it starts chewing on something inappropriate. Then redirect your dog to chew on his chewable toys only. This part is not going to be easy so you have to be really patient with your dog. Give it some praise or treats whenever it successfully chose to chew on appropriate chew toys. This makes your dog feel rewarded and encouraged.
- Try using an aversive.
An aversive is a kind of spray that you can apply to some items that your dog keep on chewing, a table leg for example. It is safe to your dog but tastes bad. This will stop your dog from chewing on that item once you sprayed it.
Trying to eliminate your dog chewing problem needs extra patience, understanding and some TLC – tender, loving care. Don’t be negative towards dog chewing. Punishing your dog won’t help you in any way but will just aggravate the situation. Reward your dog when it’s doing the right thing and when it’s not, interrupt patiently and redirect. Your dog might have already chewed on some of your valuables but those things can easily be replaced. So stay positive and eventually it will pay off.