Witnessing your dog gnaw away at your cherished feather pillow or your valuable antique armchair can be enough to make your patience run thin. However, when your dog engages in destructive chewing as if it’s a professional assignment, there’s typically a logical explanation behind this seemingly unruly behavior.
Puppies, for example, often use their mouths as tools to navigate and understand their surroundings. (“This shoe seems intriguing; I wonder if it tastes like chicken?”) Some older dogs chew as a natural method of maintaining their dental health and keeping their teeth short. However, in many cases, both puppies and adult dogs resort to chewing when they’re bored and in need of stimulation.
So, it’s time to bid farewell to tattered clothes and ruined furniture. To safeguard your belongings from your dog’s persistent gnawing, it’s essential to implement effective strategies that discourage this behavior. Consider the following tips as essential weapons in your dog training arsenal, designed to halt your dog’s destructive chewing habits—before she literally consumes your child’s homework!
Dog’s Chewing? Lock Up the Offender
One of the best ways to stop a dog from chewing on your things is to keep him in a room or area where there are few objects worthy of putting in his mouth. Dog gates, available at department and discount stores, will do the trick, confining your pooch to the kitchen or laundry room. (Note on dog gates: Be sure you purchase a dog gate made specifically for pets; accordion-style gates for children could pose a hazard for Fido since he could get his head caught in it.)
Even a kitchen or laundry room is likely to have walls, floors, and molding that can double as a puppy chew toy for a curious young canine. To prevent such problems, use a dog crate when you aren’t around to supervise. This is a dog-size wire or plastic kennel that serves as the pooch’s private space—and keeps him from damaging yours.
Get the Dog to Stop Chewing With a Bitter Pill
Commercial spray deterrents can be highly effective in combating both dog and puppy chewing. Such products, like Bitter Apple, Bitter Orange, or Bitter Lime, are readily available at your local pet supply store. As per the instructions on the label, simply spray these bitter-tasting substances on the items you wish to shield from your pet’s gnawing. The distinct smell and taste of these sprays are typically unpleasant to dogs, which helps to discourage them from chewing the sprayed items.
Another simple yet effective solution to prevent your dog from gnawing on wooden fixtures is to use clove oil. This natural product, which can usually be found in your local pharmacy, can be lightly sprinkled on areas prone to your dog’s chewing. The strong taste and smell of clove oil tend to deter dogs from biting or chewing the treated areas, thereby helping to protect your woodwork and other susceptible items in your home.
A Little Excitement Will Stop a Dog Chewing Habit
Dog chewing is often interpreted by vets and trainers as a sign of boredom. If your dog chews inappropriately—on shoes, woodwork, or his own tail—you need to take a look at his activity level based on his breed. Some dogs, such as rottweilers and other guard dogs, were bred to be sedentary; they don’t need much exercise. Other breeds, such as dalmatians, need several hours of vigorous play each day. Talk to your vet or a dog trainer to get an idea about how much exercise your dog needs. If your pooch isn’t getting enough exercise, play with him more, take him on more frequent walks, or set up play dates with other dogs in your neighborhood. With just a little more of a workout in the dog’s daily schedule, he may give up inappropriate chewing.
Puppy Teething Tricks to Stop Chewing
During their teething phase, puppies instinctively chew on anything within their reach to alleviate the associated discomfort. To prevent your teething puppy from damaging your cherished possessions, the most effective strategy is to redirect their attention towards suitable alternatives that they are permitted to chew on.
Invest in high-quality chew toys, which can be easily found at pet stores. Having a few of these toys at hand can provide your puppy with an acceptable outlet for their need to chew, while also keeping your belongings safe.
For an added benefit, consider placing one of these chew toys in the freezer for a few hours. The resulting coldness of the toy can be particularly soothing for your puppy’s tender gums, providing additional relief from the discomfort of teething. This method not only distracts your puppy from destructive chewing but also promotes healthier teething habits.
Try a (Delicious or Textured) Chew Toy
One method for coping with a dog chewing up your house is to redirect his behavior by giving him toys that you allow and encourage him to chew. Unfortunately, sometimes your Italian loafers are just a little tastier than that boring old chew toy you’ve offered your pooch. The solution? Visit your local pet store, purchase a hollow bone, and stuff it full of low-fat or nonfat cheese or peanut butter. Once your pup gets a taste of the treat, he’ll most likely ignore your shoes.
You may have better luck curbing your dog’s inappropriate chewing by swapping the object you don’t want him to gnaw on with a chew toy of a similar texture. For instance, if he’s munching on chair legs, give him something hard, such as a chew toy from a pet supply store. If your mutt is tearing your pillows to pieces, he may prefer a fabric toy—a doll, for instance. (Make sure the toy is sturdy enough to stand up to serious chewing!) If the replacement is similar to the item the pup went for originally, chances are he’ll see it as a palatable substitute. To keep your furry pal from going back to the original chew object, praise him for chewing the new toy and guide him back to the toy if his mouth wanders.