January is National Train Your Dog Month! This month, we’ll be sharing training tips from experts in the Rover community with each post featuring a training tip for puppies and advice for existing behavioral issues. This post provides tips on how to deter destructive chewing.
Behavioral Issue: Destructive Chewing
Deterring your dog from destructive chewing is all about understanding its cause. It’s natural for dogs to want to chew, and provided they’re chewing on the right things, it can help them maintain strong jaws and clean teeth.
In some cases, chewing is a result of hunger. According to the ASPCA “A dog on a calorie-restricted diet might chew and destroy objects in an attempt to find additional sources of nutrition. Dogs usually direct this kind of chewing toward objects related to food or that smell like food.” If this is the case, talk to your vet about adding things like pureed pumpkin to your dog’s meal, which will help them stay full without adding too many calories.
In other circumstances, chewing may be caused by separation anxiety. The ASPCA reminds owners to look for signs of separation anxiety in their dogs, such as “whining, barking, pacing, restlessness, urination and defecation.” In this case, it’s important to seek professional advice about dealing with your dog’s separation anxiety. For further information on this condition, check out the ASPCA’s Separation Anxiety article.
For most dogs, however, chewing is simply a normal dog behavior. Many times, chewing is the result of boredom – chewing physically and mentally stimulates dogs, so when they’re gnawing on your shoe, they might just be looking for something to do! By altering things like discipline and your dogs’ routine, this normal behavior can be redirected toward something less destructive. Included are some tips for redirecting normal chewing behavior:
- Until your dog is fully trained, keep any special items out of your dog’s reach.
- A tired dog is a well behaved dog. Make sure your dog gets plenty of play and exercise, so they’re not constantly searching for stimulation.
- If you catch your dog chewing on something they shouldn’t, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise and offer them a chew toy instead. Give them praise when they take the toy. Don’t discipline your dog after they have chewed (even if it was just a few minutes ago), as dogs can’t understand how the punishment relates with their past actions.
- Give your dog lots of safe chew toys like Greenies, Kongs and Nylabones. Make sure not to give them actual cooked bones as these can be dangerous to your dog’s health.
- Don’t give your dog old shoes or socks to play with. They can’t tell the difference between your oldest gym shoes and your designer dress shoes.
We hope these tips help you as you strive to provide the best care possible for your dog. As always, be sure to consult professional trainers or your veterinarian to find the training routine that’s best for your dog! Stay tuned for our next post on leash behavior!