It would be difficult to stop dog chewing entirely because all dogs are born with the natural instinct to chew. Unlike humans, dogs use their mouths to explore their environment. The chewing behavior itself is often not the problem; it’s what your dog decides to chew on that can be annoying. Regardless of the motivation, destructive chewing can easily be dealt with by refocusing your dog’s habit.
Why dogs chew
In order to prevent or stop dog chewing you should first understand why dogs chew. Aside from being a dog’s natural instinct, the most common reasons for chewing are:
Dog chewing usually starts when puppies begin teething because they’re looking for a way to soothe their gums. This generally begins at three months old and lasts until their permanent teeth grow in at around six to ten months.
The most common reason for destructive dog chewing is boredom. Dogs have a lot of energy and need a way to release it. If you don’t provide an effective outlet, they’ll find one on their own, which may include destroying your new furniture.
A dog with separation anxiety is more likely to develop a destructive chewing habit. If he’s left alone for too long, he’ll look for something to chew on to ease his mind. If you deal with your dog’s separation anxiety first, you will likely solve your his chewing problem as well.
Refocus the chewing habit
Here are several ways to refocus a destructive habit and stop dog chewing.
Dog-proof your house
Make sure your house is dog-proof. Objects lying around, like shoes, children’s toys, and even books, are all chewable. If you don’t want these valuables to become your dog’s favorite chew toys, put them out of reach. Make sure electric cords and open outlets are also inaccessible. Learn how to puppy proof your home.
Provide proper chew toys
Give your dog one good chew toy to focus his chewing habit. Don’t use personal belongings such as socks or shoes because he’ll learn to chew anything made from the same materials. Below are two ideas to stop a dog from chewing objects other than the toy you’ve provided.
Chew replacement: Whenever your dog is chewing something inappropriate, offer him his chew toy. Make it enticing. When he takes the toy, give him strong praise for being such a good dog.
The Distraction Test: Put something that is off-limits in the floor along with your dog’s chew toy. Turn your back but watch him from the corner of your eye. If he chews on the off-limits object, give him a firm “leave it!” and offer the chew toy. Remember to give strong praise each time he chooses his toy over the off-limits item. Once he makes the right choice consistently, leave the room for short periods and gradually increase the time you’re away.
Exercise your dog daily
Exercise your dog each day to lower his energy level. This will keep him calm and can prevent most behavior problems including destructive dog chewing.
Confine your dog when you’re away
Don’t let your dog roam around the house alone. Know where he is at all times. If you don’t, he’ll likely chew on something he shouldn’t. If your dog can’t be supervised, put him in a crate or a dog-proofed area.
A dog that chews excessively may be frustrating, but the habit shouldn’t be punished. Reprimanding your dog will only make him afraid to chew while you’re watching, but he’s still going to chew. The most effective way to stop dog chewing is to provide an irresistible chew toy to focus his natural behavior.