Is your dog driving you nuts with his destructive chewing?
Has your dog reduced your best sunglasses to an unrecognisable pile of plastic bits that you found on the carpet, or your best shoes to sodden misshaped bits of leather that will never again be fit for the purpose you bought them for?
If so, read on because help is at hand.
A bit about chewing first of all.
First of all there is chewing and there is destructive chewing.
Most dogs like to chew, while others don’t find it necessary to chew things at all, unless they are bored.
Destructive chewing describes your dog chewing on your belongings, furniture and other items that really you would rather they did not chew on.
Dogs chew things for three main reasons.
First of all, as I mentioned before, most dogs like to chew. For them, it is good fun and a way to pass the time. If the item that they are chewing on tastes good, then it is also a rewarding past-time.
Secondly, for a lonely bored or nervous dog, repeatedly chewing on an item is synonymous with comfort food. It is also an outlet for your dog’s emotions.
Thirdly, dogs that are not exercised enough will chew things as another way of using up energy and having something to do.
OK – So how do I prevent my dog from destructive chewing?
Dogs are quite intelligent and can easily learn not to chew your possessions. It is up to you to help them learn what they can and cannot chew in your home, so you will need to put some effort into this. Are you ready….
Remember that your dog explores the world with his mouth so you need to make sure your home is dog proof. No matter how well behaved your dog is, you are not going to help them if you leave your possessions lying around. This will only tempt fate and is unfair on your dog.
So you need to make sure that everything you cherish or that you don’t want chewed by your dog is out of his reach. Bear in mind that your dog can climb on furniture, jump up or stand on his back legs to reach items placed on tables and shelves, so do put things well out of reach or in a cupboard where your dog is not going to have access to them.
Dogs like items such as glasses and sunglasses, books, shoes, crunchy things like a television control, camera’s and maybe even your mobile phone.
As well as the above, any food that is left out is a sure target as well. So do ensure that no food is left within reach of your dog. It is surprising how agile dogs can be if there is a snack available. Also, clean remaining scraps of food off plates and rinse the plates so that your dog is not tempted to lick your china.
Remember that prevention is better than cure and if you can stop your dog from chewing your things from the outset, he will find it a lot easier to know what you expect of him.
The more often that your dog gets hold of a forbidden object, then the more often those same items will be targeted in the future so you will probably need to confine your dog in an area that is dog proofed until you are sure that the house rules are well and truly understood.
Help your dog out here by not confusing him.
If you don’t want your dog to chew your brand new shoes, then don’t give him your old pair.
If you don’t want your clothes torn to shreds, don’t give him your old gardening jumper to lie on or play with.
Your dog is not going to be able to distinguish the difference between last year’s cast offs and this year’s brand new items.
If your dog doesn’t have some tasty, attractive and appropriate objects to chew on, then it’s not really his fault if he decides to start munching his way through your new trainers. Buy your dog a variety of items that he can chew on and allow him two or three items at a time.
Every few days, rotate the items that you have bought for your dog to chew on and this will ensure that they remain interesting for him.
Don’t forget that the chewing needs of a dog are more, if the dog is either a puppy or an adolescent.
Take plenty of time out to be with your dog and supervise them. Being in a crate for long periods of time is not good for your dog and no fun for you either. The more time you can spend in actively supervising your dog, then the quicker he will learn what he is or isn’t allowed to do.
If you catch your dog chewing something that you don’t want them to chew, clap your hands together and interrupt him. Immediately give your dog a tasty rawhide bone or a chewable toy and as soon as his teeth close together on this, then give him lots of praise.
The best way of helping your dog to learn that chewing his own toys is good and chewing everything else is bad, is by giving him lots of praise when he starts chewing his own toys.
Stay with it.
Try not to be unrealistic about your expectations with your dog. There are going to be times when he gets hold of something he shouldn’t, but remember he is just curious about his environment and every single one of us makes mistakes.
Remember also that it will take time for your dog to learn what you expect of him. Spend plenty of time with him and this will help him learn the ropes faster.
Even when your dog is reliable, he may well still choose something of yours to chew over one of his own chewable toys if he is left for a long period of time and he gets bored.