Picture it: you come home after a long, stressful day at work to find what’s left of your couch cushions strewn across the floor — and your pooch pulling those sad puppy-dog eyes, with a piece of foam still in their mouth
If you’re reading this article, chances are this isn’t just a picture — it’s your reality. Are you desperate to find out how to stop your pup from chewing everything you hold dear? Never fear, PupJoy is here with some dog training tips to save your shoes, your furniture, and your sanity.
Why does my dog chew on everything I love?
The answer might not be as straightforward as you think. Here are three of the main reasons why your dog gnaws on everything in sight.
If you’ve ever raised a human baby alongside your fur-baby, you’ll know just how painful the teething process is. Make sure your puppy has plenty of teething toys so they don’t resort to soothing their sore gums on your coffee table.
According to Merck Veterinary Manual, destructive chewing often stems from boredom and lack of mental stimulation. The best way to stop your pup from chewing everything is to exercise your dog’s mind and body with daily physical activities and mental challenges.
Did you know your dog can develop mental health conditions? Separation anxiety is especially common among pooches who have strong bonds with their owners. Dogs may also chew objects when confined to unfamiliar environments which make them feel unsafe or insecure.
5 ways to stop your pup from chewing everything
Chewing is a natural canine behavior, but that doesn’t mean your furniture is fair game. Spare your belongings with these tried and tested tricks.
Create a routine and stick to it
Canines are creatures of habit. Read any resource on dog training and you’ll find a common theme: the importance of the daily routine.
Your dog’s routine should include established times for:
- potty breaks
- reward training
- physical exercise and play
- socializing with other dogs and people
When creating your dog’s routine, it’s important to consider your dog’s energy level. Dogs require as little as thirty minutes to as much as three hours of physical activity per day, depending on their size and breed.
And remember, variety is the spice of life, so be sure to change up your dog’s exercise regimen now and then to prevent boredom and restlessness. However, creating a varied routine is a lot easier said than done for dog owners who work full-time or don’t have a spacious yard where their dog can play.
If you’re stuck, look into dog walking services near you. On-demand dog walkers can fit your pup’s physical exercise needs into your busy schedule. After all, most destructive chewing occurs when the owner isn’t home!
Turn destructive chewing into constructive chewing
Chew toys, dental chews, and puzzle toys are excellent outlets for your dog’s chewing habit. However, if your dog is a medium-sized or large breed, never leave them home alone with a tennis ball, rawhide bone, or any other toy which can become lodged in their throats. Always supervise your dog while they’re playing with a chew toy when possible.
“Puppy-proof” your home
There’s a reason we call our dogs “fur-babies” — puppies and infants share a lot of the same behaviors! They tend to use all five senses, especially taste, to investigate their surroundings.
It’s important to “puppy-proof” your home, not just to protect your belongings, but also to keep your pup safe when you’re not around. Here are a few ideas:
- Use a lid for garbage cans.
- Put shoes out of sight, preferably in a closet.
- Keep all kitchen counters clean and free of food.
- Tack electrical cords to baseboards or secure them out of your dog’s reach.
- Set up baby gates or keep doors closed to restrict certain areas of the home.
Create a designated digging zone
If you have a big yard, set up a doggy digging zone where your pup can burn some of their endless energy. Use bricks or wood planks to mark the perimeter of the zone, and be sure to redirect your dog to their special spot if they try to dig elsewhere.
When all else fails, use a deterrent
If your pup is particularly stubborn about giving up their chewing habit, try spraying a foul-tasting deterrent — like bitter apple or lemon spray — onto your furniture. This tip comes from the late Dawn Sylvia-Stasiewicz, a household name in the dog training world who worked with Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy.
Many big-box pet stores carry anti-chewing sprays — just make sure to test whatever product you choose to make sure it doesn’t stain your furniture.
Some dog owners advise using hot sauce or cayenne pepper. However, not only will these spicy foods stain fabrics, but they can also upset your dog’s tummy.
One last thing: never punish your dog for destructive chewing
After discovering that your pup has chewed something they shouldn’t, you may be tempted to punish them in some way.
However, research shows that “negative reinforcement” — including hitting, yelling, locking your dog in their crate, or using other methods such as a shock collar — only increases fear, anxiety, and aggression.
Never hit, yell, or use negative reinforcement to punish your dog. To be an effective leader, you must remain calm, but firm, in your training at all times. Besides, it’s hard to stay mad at your adorable doggo for long — even if they did try to eat your favorite shoes!
If you’re feeling sick to the teeth (pun totally intended) of your dog’s chewing habit, don’t fret. To figure out how to stop your pup from chewing everything, you’ll first need to establish the reason behind the behavior. The culprit is almost always boredom. If you make the effort to provide plenty of physical and mental stimulation for your dog each day, the problem will solve itself!