Whether you are the proud owner of a new puppy or an experienced dog owner, chewing is a natural dog behavior that you will likely have to deal with at some point. Before you can control your dog’s chewing behavior, it is important that you understand that chewing is a natural and appropriate behavior for dogs. Puppies learn about new things by putting them in their mouths, and chewing can also provide relief during periods of teething.
Although chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, that isn’t to say that it is always appropriate. Some dogs have been known to wreak havoc on their owners’ closets, tearing apart clothes and gnawing on shoes.
If you are experiencing trouble with your dog’s chewing behavior, the follow tips may lead you to a solution:
- Puppy-proof your home. Secure all doors and cabinets that a curious puppy might get into and find things to chew on. This is especially important in regard to cabinets holding dangerous materials, such as cleaning products.
- Determine whether your dog is teething. If your dog is a puppy, his excessive chewing behavior could be related to teething. Consult your veterinarian to see whether this might be the case and to see what you can do to ease his discomfort.
- Keep expensive items out of reach. It really is that simple ¾ if you don’t want your dog to chew on something, put it somewhere he won’t be able to get it.
- Give your dog plenty of exercise. Even small dogs require daily exercise to stretch their legs and to work off excess energy. If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise during the day, he is more likely to chew on things.
- Play with your dog more often. Not only do you need to give your dog physical exercise, but mental exercise in the form of games can also help prevent chewing.
- Confine your dog while you are away. By keeping your dog confined to a crate or to a particular room in the house during your absence, you can prevent him from gaining access to things he shouldn’t chew.
- Hire a dog walker. If you do not have time to walk your dog at least once a day, or if your job keeps you away for long periods of time, you might want to hire a dog walker. This will prevent your dog from getting bored and restless, which may make him more likely to chew.
- Give your dog plenty of chew toys. If you are able to find a chew toy that your dog likes, he may be less likely to chew on inappropriate objects, such as shoes.
- Replace objects with toys. When you find your dog chewing on something he shouldn’t, take the object away and immediately replace it with a toy. This will teach your dog what he is and isn’t allowed to chew.
- Reward your dog for good behavior. To teach your dog to only chew on his toys, praise and reward him when he chooses the toy over another object.
- Use bitter apple spray. For large items, such as furniture that you can’t keep out of reach, use a bitter apple spray to discourage your dog from chewing on it.
The bottom line is that while chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, that doesn’t mean you have to put up with your dog destroying your shoes and wrecking your furniture. Rather than trying to stop your dog’s chewing behavior altogether, try redirecting it to more appropriate outlets, such as chew toys.
Remember, the key to success in any form of dog training is to be calm and consistent. Do not be lenient on your dog, but do not punish him either, Simply reward him for good behavior, and he will learn quickly.