Stop A Dog From Chewing

Imagine, you are relaxing at home and everything is quiet. Then you realize; it’s a bit too quiet! You get up and go to your bedroom and discover your dog destroying your favorite shoes! You see red, this is the third time this week. You are angry, not only at your dog but also at yourself for not intervening earlier. This type of thing happens to most dog owners at some point in time. So, how do you stop a dog from chewing up your most precious possessions?

Before we look at the how, lets look at the why.

Why Do Dogs Chew Up Our Favorite Things?

Dogs do not discriminate about what items they choose to chew up, however many owners report that their dog only chews up their favorite personal items like clothing or shoes. The most appropriate explanation for this is that your dog is trying to feel closer to you by only chewing on things that have your body scent. Dogs have an excellent sense of smell and in order to feel like you are there with them they may just have a chew on clothes or shoes you had worn the day before.

There are 4 main reasons why dog love to chew.

  1. Dogs have a natural desire to chew. It is fun for the dog, helps pass the time, it is self rewarding and it is a self reinforcing activity. For example when your dog is chewing on something that tastes good this is a rewarding and reinforcing activity.
  2. Chewing serves a purpose. If a dog is suffering from dog anxiety, is nervous or bored chewing serves as an outlet for their emotions, and also distracts from anxious feelings. For a dog suffering from dog separation anxiety, the repetitive act of chewing can calm and soothe anxious emotions.
  3. Lack of exercise. Many dogs will use chewing as a way to use up excess energy reserves and basically gives them something to do.
  4. Puppies and teething. Puppies, like human infants, put everything in their mouths to learning about the world around them. Teething puppies chew on anything and everything to help bring their new teeth up. Some breeds are more prone to chewing throughout their adult lives as well.

puppy chewing image

How to stop your dog chewing.

1. Take control.

2. Prevention is better than cure.

3. Don’t set your dog up for failure.

4. Provide chewing alternatives.

5. Active supervision.

6. Stay vigilant and consistent.

Dogs are trainable at any age and your dog can learn how to stay away from you favorite shoes and clothes. It does take a little effort on your part, but will save you lots of anguish and money over time.

1. Take control of your dogs living environment and manage your possessions.

The first step is to “dog proof” your home. Keep bedroom doors shut and put your shoes and clothes away where your dog can’t get to them. Even if you have the best dog in the world there is no reason to temp them by leaving things at easy access.

When dog proofing your home keep in mind that dogs have the ability to jump, climb and leap. Take note of how tall your dog is when they are standing on their back legs. Try to think outside the box, most popular chewing toys for dogs can be the following:-

  • Books.
  • Cd’s and DVD’s.
  • Glasses and fashion eye wear.
  • Photo frames.
  • Clothing.
  • Shoes.
  • Garbage bins.
  • Digital cameras.
  • Cell phones.
  • Remote controls.
  • Soft furnishings like pillows.

2. Prevention is better than cure.

Prevent your dog from learning the enjoyment of forbidden chewing. Every time your dog manages to sneak something away to chew on the more likely they are to target the same type of item in the future. If you are able to establish clear boundaries with your dog in the first place it is a lot easier for them to understand what you expect. To illustrate, it is better to keep your dog confined to a “dog proofed” area until your are confident your dog understands the  rules.

3. Don’t set your dog up for failure.

Many dog owners blur the boundaries by giving their dog the old shoes to chew and then get upset when their dog chews on the new shoes. You can not expect your dog to know the difference – to them, a shoe is a shoe. Don’t be tempted to give your dog the items they have already destroyed to chew on, they will become bored with those items and move on to other things you value. Your dog needs to learn that there are specific things they can chew (such as dog chew toys), items that are bought for this purpose and do not resemble the look, smell or texture your valued possessions.

4. Provide your dog with plenty of chewing alternatives.

If your dog stays in an area with limited chewing objects the you can’t blame them for targeting your possessions or furniture. Dogs need to chew, if under three years (adolescent dog) or under one year (puppy-hood) this need for chewing toys will be even more important. My advice is to go on a chew toy shopping spree! Buy 10-15 different chew toys and introduce 3 or 4 at a time. Rotate the toys a least twice a week to ensure that your dog has plenty of alternatives and variety.  Changing the chew toys over regularly will keep your dog interested in chewing on the chew toys and not your valuable possessions.

5. Spend plenty of time in active supervision.

Sure, it might be easier for you to just keep your dog locked up or stuck their crate, chained to the dog run, or locked in the yard. It is easier but it’s boring and horrible for your dog and not much fun for you either. A dog is not like a fish, they need interaction with you to feel secure and happy. It’s vital that you understand that your dog will never comprehend what is expected if they are spending all of their time restricted in a dog proofed area. You need to teach your dog what is expected in normal living conditions so they can learn the boundaries you put in place.

6. Stay vigilant and consistent.

When you catch your dog chewing something they should not have, sharply interrupt their chewing by making a loud noise. you could clap your hands, say “no” firmly or make a  “Ah-ah-aaaah!” noise. Then hand your dog an interesting or tasty dog chew toy or rawhide bone. Then as soon as your dogs’  jaws closes around it, give plenty of praise and say “good dog”. Make sure your tone of voice is praising to your dog and give them a pat. This is a great way to reinforce that you like your dog to chew on the items you allow and not anything they choose. It also shows your dog that chewing the toys or items that you allow equals affection and praise and if they choose an inappropriate item to chew on it means trouble.

Maintain a practical attitude and remember to keep your expectations realistic. Dog behavior can be altered but don’t expect miracles overnight. Consistency is the key and your dog will respond positively to consistent efforts. You’re not perfect, and neither is your dog. Keep in mind that  there will be to be at least one  cherished item that will be damaged or destroyed because of your dogs curiosity.

We hope you have enjoyed our article titled Stop A Dog From Chewing.

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  1. I wish I had read this article a few years ago when our dog was a puppy, we may have been able to cure the consent chewing much quicker and with far less stress. Great information, thanks
    Cheryl recently posted..Canine Allergy SymptomsMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment Cheryl,

      When I was a young child we had a Golden Labradore who had been rejected from the Lady Nell seeing eye dog school. She chewed everything in sight, especially shoes which were her favorite chew toy. She finally grew out of her “chewing phase” at age 4.

      I wish I had this information about how to stop a dog from chewing when I was a child – might have saved a lot of shoes!!

  2. What an informative article. Thank you. I had trouble with a dog that loved to chew the kitchen table legs if we left him in the kitchen when we went out for a number of hours. I am sure it was boredom and anxiety, how we stopped our dog from chewing was to do as you said, minimise the opportunities. We started to leave him in the laundry where the washing machine was a little harder on the teeth :).
    He soon grew out of the habit and we loved him regardless, just like my daughter.
    Great post and I look forward to browsing the rest of the site.
    Benji – passionate about Margaret River recently posted..Drug Aware Pro Margaret River 2011My Profile

  3. i recently threw out my roommate because I thought he was cutting up my underwear, but he’s gone and my underwear are still being cut straight across in the crotch area. Could it be my dog? She has recently started chewing up garbage and eating random food items like heads of lettuce if they are left out, even packaged food and paper plates.

  4. Thanks Bev. This is a great way to stop my dogs from chewing. Cheers!
    Sean Rasmussen recently posted..Napoleon HillMy Profile

  5. Great article! The only thing I would add is exercise. Some dogs will chew out of shear boredom, if you keep them active and like you said, direct them to acceptable chew toys them you won’t have a problem.

    Great site! Thanks for the info!