Canine chewing sprees are expensive and frustrating. Chewing is a natural, normal and necessary canine behavior. It’s not chewing that is a problem, only chewing of inappropriate objects. Thus, it’s appropriate to teach your dog to chew on toys and not on other items by rewarding good chewing and keeping forbidden items out of reach. Appropriate chewing that is rewarded will create a habit to help ensure your dog chews only on his toys.
Inappropriate chewing occurs for many reasons. Dogs do not chew out of anger but for play, teething, curiosity, boredom, availability, excess energy, attention and comfort. In most cases, addressing the underlying reason reduces destructive chewing.
Boredom often leads to chewing, especially when the owner is absent. Keep your dog occupied and stimulated so he does not resort to destructive chewing. You must teach your dog how to be comfortable and how to act when alone through exercise, reduction of stress, and mental stimulation.
To minimize inappropriate chewing:
1. Dog-proof your dwelling – limit access to inappropriate objects.
2. Manage and supervise your dog. Keep a close watch on your dog when you’re home and confine your dog to limit his access when you’re away.
3. Select interactive toys such as Buster Cubes and Kongs that are good for chewing and mental stimulation. Make them more desirable by placing high value treats or your dog’s dinner inside them.
4. Encourage and reward chewing on toys. Whenever you see your dog chewing on his toys, praise and offer a special treat. Praise your dog when he sniffs, licks or chews a new toy. Rub something tasty on the toy or drag it around on a string to make it interesting.
5. Provide sufficient exercise. You may need to hire a dog walker ( the cost may be less than that of replacing furniture).
6. For destructive chewing of furniture, frequently coat with commercially available bitter tasting substance.
7. Don’t punish your dog for chewing. Interrupt the behavior, redirect your dog to an appropriate toy and praise him. This demonstrates that it is not chewing that is bad, but rather the dog’s choice.