The act of chewing seems to be a matter of individual preference among dogs: some have an innate desire to chew as an enjoyable activity, and some seem to have no need to chew anything unless they are pushed towards by simple boredom.
The expression “destructive chewing” may seem redundant because – by its very nature! – all chewing is destructive. Your dog has strong jaws full of sharp teeth: almost anything he starts chewing will likely show its effects in a minute. So just to clarify, the phrase “destructive chewing” means inappropriate chewing: the type of chewing that focuses on your own household goods and items, rather than the toys and chews designated by your dog.
The top three reasons why dogs chew:
- Most dogs have a natural desire to chew. It’s fun, it spends time, and it’s a self-rewarding, self-reinforcing activity (for example, if the dog chews something that tastes good.)
- Chewing provides a nervous, bored or lonely dog with an outlet for his emotions. For an anxious dog, the repetitive act of chewing is soothing – it is the dog equivalent of comfort food.
- Under-exercised dogs often use chewing to burn nerve energy and give themselves something to do.
How to prevent destructive chewing?
Dogs are perfectly capable of learning not to chew your stuff – you just have to make a little effort first, that’s it.
Take control of the situation:
Manage your own property. Your first step should be to shelter your home from dogs. Even if you have the best dog in the world, there is still no reason to test your self-control – after all, dogs explore the world with their mouths.
Sheltering your home means taking everything you don’t want to put in your mouth and making it unavailable. Consider its size and agility when deciding if something is out of reach: can it jump? Can he climb or jump on something else to reach the desired object? How tall is it when it stands on its hind legs?
Common targets in the home are books, glasses, clothes, shoes, garbage, and small electrical devices like cameras, cell phones, and remote controls.
It goes without saying that all food should be stored safely: don’t leave snacks on low tables (or even countertops – you’d be surprised how acrobatic it can be when there is food in it. game!), Put all food in containers or the pantry. Rinse your dirty plates and remove all food residue before leaving them near the sink.
Prevent him from learning the joys of illegal chewing.
The more your dog manages to grab a jaw of a prohibited substance – a chair-leg, a pillow, a running shoe – the more he will target other elements in the future. If you can prevent him from chewing your stuff in the first place, it will be much easier for him to understand what you expect from him. Concretely, this means confining your objects to an area protected from dogs until you are confident that you understand the rules of the house.
Don’t prepare it for failure
Do not prepare him for failure by blurring the lines between his business (OK to chew) and your business (not OK to chew). Do not offer your dog disposable clothes, shoes or towels to chew and play with: in reality, you cannot expect him to be able to tell the difference between your current shoes and those that he has in his mouth that you gave him five minutes ago.
Offer him many alternatives
Offer her many tasty alternatives to your business. If his environment is relatively devoid of attractive and appropriate chewing objects, you can hardly blame him for targeting your property. Remember that most dogs must chew; if he is young (less than three years old) or puppy (less than one year old), his needs will be even more pronounced. Give him two or three objects to play with at the same time.
Spend a lot of time in active supervision
Yes, it might be easier for you to just keep him in his cage, or in the yard – but it’s boring and horrible for him, and not very fun for you either (if you wanted a pet you don’t need to interact with it, you would have a goldfish, right?) Your dog may not know what you expect from him if he spends all of his time locked up in the dog-proof area: he needs the opportunity to explore the limits of your expectations, so that they can understand what is appropriate and what is not.
Interrupt it by making a loud noise
When you catch him chewing on something inappropriate, stop it by making a loud noise: clap your hands or make a noise “Ah-ah-aaaah!”. Then immediately give it a tasty and dog-friendly alternative (rawhide bone or other chew toy); as soon as its jaws close around it, praise it generously. There is no better way to make your dog understand that chewing “his” toys is praising you, but everything else is tantamount to trouble.
Maintain a productive attitude
Above all, remember to keep your expectations realistic. You are not perfect, and neither is your dog: it is likely that there is at least one incident where a darling object is damaged by his curiosity.
Particularly in the early stages of your relationship, the dog always learns: it will take a while before it is completely reliable (and even then, if left alone for too long or feels neglected, it can choose your business rather than his own to occupy his time and jaws with it.) Remember to give him time to learn the rules, and plenty of time to help him learn – and remember to take precautions and keep things out of reach until he gets the hang of the chewing rules!