You love your puppy, but he loves to chew. Whether it’s the leg of your chair or the edge of the couch, he’s always looking for something to sink his teeth into. Chewing isn’t necessarily a bad habit. It is actually a natural behavior for dogs. It helps them relieve boredom and stress, keeps their teeth clean and sharp and allows them to explore their environment—but if it gets out of hand, you’ll need to stop it before your dog starts destroying the house. You can’t control your puppy’s desire, but you can teach him what he can and cannot chew. Here are some ways to stop your pup from chewing items in your home.
Identify the Source of the Problem
The first step in dealing with your dog’s chewing problem is identifying the source of the issue. Dogs may chew for many reasons and you want to rule out anything medical before coming up with a plan of action. While many dogs chew on things to leave their scent or deal with boredom, some dogs use chewing as a coping mechanism for dealing with stress or anxiety. While it’s normal for puppies to teethe between three and nine months, some older dogs may also be experiencing pain from an injury or dental issue. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, some dogs may also chew if they lack proper nutrition. If you suspect your dog may be chewing to alleviate a medical issue, take your pet to the vet for an exam as soon as possible so that treatment can begin.
Keep Everything Out of Reach
Your dog may be a very good boy, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. Make his life (and yours!) a little easier by taking temptation out of the picture. Dogs are attracted to items with strong smells, so keep stinky things like shoes, socks and human food out of reach. This includes candy, gum, chocolate, caffeine products and alcohol. Beyond destroying these items, chewing on things they aren’t supposed to could cause an upset stomach, weight gain or even death. While Fido might think it’s a treat, some foods can make your dog very sick if they get into them.
Dogs are intelligent animals and can pick up on things quickly, so they must know what is off-limits and what is okay to play with or chew. If you must leave things out, place them where your dog cannot get to them or put them up high on shelves or bookcases so they don’t become playthings. Pet-proofing your house will keep your furry friend safe from harm. You may need to invest in locking storage bins to keep his curiosity at bay.
Until your dog is trained to avoid these things, make sure to over-communicate with everyone in the household (including guests) on proper ways to keep the pup safe. Teach them adequate crate training when you can’t be home with them. This will keep your items secure and your dog safe.
Give Your Dog Something to Chew
Dogs are natural chewers. They love to gnaw on things and get bored if they don’t have something to keep them occupied. If you don’t provide your dog with suitable toys, he will find something else to chew—like your favorite shoes or furniture. Make sure his toys are big enough that he can’t swallow them whole but small enough to easily carry in his mouth when he’s playing and chewing.
Make sure that the items you give him are safe. Avoid cooked bones that can splinter or toys that are too small. A good rule of thumb is that the toy should be no bigger than the size of your palm (for large dogs) or half that size (for small dogs).
When you leave your dog alone, give them a treat-filled chew toy. They’ll have something safe to gnaw on to pass the time until you return. Give them something new daily, so they don’t get bored with it quickly. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on new dog toys online. Instead, keep a basket of chew toys available that you can rotate out to keep him interested and engaged.
Keep Your Dog Busy and Loved
Some dogs chew because they are bored, anxious or lonely. It’s essential to keep your dog occupied with appropriate toys, exercise and training. Dogs who are left alone for long stretches of time are more likely to chew things to relieve stress and anxiety from being left alone. Dogs love attention from their people, so spending time with them will help get them more interested in playing with their toys instead of chewing yours. Give him plenty of exercise and stimulation during the day (and remember to give him a nice, long walk right before bedtime). If you have a busy schedule, consider bringing in a dog sitter or asking a neighbor to give them some extra time.
Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs that any dog owner is likely to run into at some point. Find out what your dog is trying to get out of chewing, and find a way to meet that need without destroying your things. If you’re still struggling with this issue after trying these tips, consider hiring a professional trainer who can come over and help you train your pup.