Chewing

It is very discouraging to come into a room and find furniture chewed up, the kids’ toys torn apart and favorite books shredded.  Even a small dog can do lots of damage. You can’t expect your dog not to chew. It’s natural for him to put things into his mouth.  He eats, drinks, carries things, and even plays using his mouth.  Chewing also helps to develop mature jaws. Your job is to teach him what is and isn’t appropriate to chew on while managing his environment to prevent mistakes.

The quickest and easiest way to solve your immediate problem and prevent future ones is to make your dog crazy for chewtoys.  Invest in some good-quality, stuffable toys such as puppy or adult dog Kongs’ or sterilized bones.  Fill them with whatever your dog likes (many like cream cheese, cheese spread and peanut butter with kibble or treats mixed in), give the toy to him when he goes in his crate if you’re not able to watch him.

If you want to fill a longer period of time, freeze his filled toy before giving it to him.  Frozen stuffed toys are particularly soothing to teething puppy gums as are small ice cubes.  Other good choices for chewing are Nylabones© or Gummabones©.

Next, look around your house.  Get on your hands and knees and have a dog’s-eye-view of each room.  Are there things within easy reach or on the floor such as shoes, pencils, slippers, or newspapers that would be fun and interesting to play with if you were a dog?  Pick up these temptations and put them away or in a closed closet.  Find a different place for the potted plant with all that wonderful dirt to play in!  There needs to be a door between your dog and removable temptations.

Close all doors that lead to trouble, such as the bathroom with sponges, toilet paper, dirty socks in the hamper.  Close bedroom closet doors that contain such prizes as slippers and kids’ toys.  Close all doors except for the room you are in.  Until your dog is thoroughly trustworthy, confine him to a crate or ‘chew proofed’ area with his chewtoys any time you are unable to supervise him.

If your dog still chews inappropriately, remember he doesn’t inherently know what are the right and wrong things to chew.  He never chews out of spite.  Punishing him after the fact will only teach him to fear you:  he cannot make the link between that chewed chair leg, his chewing, and your anger. Instead, don’t leave him in an unsupervised area.

If you catch him actively chewing on something he shouldn’t, make an ‘Aght!’ noise to startle him.  Immediately give him a chewtoy and praise him for chewing on it.

Most dogs will outgrow these destructive chewing behaviors.  Dogs are reward-based animals:  they will stop behaviors that aren’t rewarded and will continue behaviors that are rewarded.  Reward your dog with good chewtoys, management and training and he will reward you with good chew behavior.

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