What To Do With a Dog Who Loves to Chew

If you have a dog who tends to chew on things he shouldn’t, it can get frustrating fast. We’ve heard so many stories from new Dog Training Now clients about dogs who chew on everything. From puppies that chew shoes or crayons to older dogs that chew on furniture, a chewing pooch can make his owners crazy. The trick is understanding a bit about why your dog is chewing, and then knowing how to motivate him to aim that chewing towards something appropriate, and away from your new coffee table.

Why puppies chew
If your chewing canine is a puppy, you are certainly not alone. Puppies, much like human babies, explore their world with their mouths. Your puppy is figuring out what is soft, what is hard, what tastes good, and what doesn’t around him. But beyond exploration, your puppy also can start a serious chewing habit when he starts teething. Yes, your puppy will teethe just like an infant!

Want to know how to stop a dog from chewing?
We Can Help!

Around 4 to 6 months of age, your puppy is in the process of losing his super sharp baby teeth. His new adult teeth need to pop through his gums, which can be uncomfortable. For your dog, the only relief is to chew. Unfortunately, if you are not around to show him what to chew on, he can end up chewing on whatever he finds around the house.

When it comes to puppies chewing, it is truly a matter of safety. Curious puppies who chew anything they can get their mouths on can be dangerous. Ingesting the wrong thing can lead to veterinary visits and even possible surgery, so when you have a puppy, keep him on a leash so that you can supervise. Keep an eye out for what he is getting into so that you can stay out of the vet’s office and keep your new furry addition healthy.

Why adult dogs chew
If your dog is no longer a puppy but can still chew up a favorite shoe, you have found yourself in the middle of a behavior issue instead of a puppy instinctual behavior. The good news is that you can correct the behavior and stop the chewing. The bad news is that it is going to take consistency on your part so that you can establish clear guidelines and boundaries for your dog so that he knows what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Adult dog chewing can stem from a variety of reasons. Separation anxiety and boredom are often the biggest culprits, but these are also somewhat easy fixes.

How to stop the chewing

No matter the age of your dog, there are a few ways to start your entire family on the no-chewing road. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Stop the chewing when it happens with a “no”. Then, immediately redirect your dog to an appropriate chew toy. This means that you are going to have to pay attention to what your dog is doing, and be a bit suspicious if he slinks out of the room. Keep appropriate chew toys within close reach so that your dog gets redirection quickly.
  • Don’t confuse your dog with mixed signals. Our own Trainer Nick has seen owners give their dog an old shoe to chew on in the hopes that it would curb the dog’s chewing on new shoes. But it can be very confusing for a dog to understand why he can chew on this shoe but not others.
  • Stock up on appropriate chew toys. Here at Dog Training Now, we never have a deer antler too far away from our dogs. The antlers last a long time and dogs usually love gnawing on them. We also often recommend Nylabones, but sometimes your dog won’t be a fan of either. Whether you go with a softer toy or a Kong, just be sure that your toys are durable and able to withstand the bite of sharp puppy teeth. Pull your toys once they show signs of destruction – toss them and replace it sooner than later.
  • Mix up your chew toys. Trainer Mary recommends switching out chew toys often, especially for puppies. This can make the toy seem new and exciting, which means he is more likely to chew on it. Having many chew toys laying around can make it a bit boring for your dog, so trade toys in and out of your routine.
  • Go for a walk. If boredom has your dog looking for something to do, you could find yourself with a chewing problem. Make walks a part of your daily routine, remembering that your dog gets more than just physical exercise from a jaunt around the neighborhood. He is exercising his legs and his brain, which can lead to better behavior at home.
  • Don’t turn it into a game. Pay attention to how you react when you catch your dog chewing. If you tend to chase him around to get the item out of his mouth, he might associate your behavior with a game. If you catch him in the act, say “no” and redirect to an appropriate toy. Then, when you see your dog chewing on something appropriate, give him lots of praise. Dogs love getting praise from their owners, and that can motivate him to set up good chewing habits.
  • For older dogs who just can’t help themselves from going for the same pair of shoes or coffee table legs, investing in bitter apple or bitter orange spray can be very helpful. Trainer Mary recommends spraying the items that your dog typically goes for. The taste is a deterrent for your dog, but is safe for them and for your items.
  • Get help. Dogs who chew even with consistent owner intervention need a specialized plan. Our Trainers have years of experience working with chewing dogs of all ages. Sometimes, a good obedience training can put the chewing to rest. Other times, our trainers can give advice for a new routine. We are here to help all of our clients have happy – and chew-free – homes. Give us a call to set up a consultation and plan.

Here’s to getting started on your journey to eliminate unwanted chewing in your home!