Dogs chew. I’m sure you know that by now. But just because it’s a natural habit for them doesn’t mean you’re sentenced to a life of holes in your furniture, ripped up carpet, and dog bed filling all over your house. There are steps you can take to curb your dog’s natural tendency toward destruction.
First, it’s important to understand why your dog is chewing. If your dog is a puppy, it’s more than likely he’s teething. Just like in human babies, teething hurts. Puppies chew because it relieves some of the pain. Unfortunately, this teaches the dog that chewing relieves pain, and they begin to see it as a reward.
If your dog is no longer a puppy, he’s chewing for different reasons. As we said, he may have learned that it’s helpful. But he may also be chewing because he’s bored or suffering from separation anxiety. He may also not be getting enough exercise, which can cause a lot of the destructive behaviors we see dogs exhibit.
Help for Teething Puppies
If the chewing is caused by teething, there are a few things you can do to help relieve his pain and hopefully stop it before he starts to see the chewing as rewarding behavior.
Most of the methods are the same you’d use for your own baby. There are toys specifically made for chewing dogs, toys that massage their gums and make them feel better. Some of them are meant to be frozen as well, which causes another level of pain relief. If you have any questions about how to help your pup, as usual, talk to your vet.
Stop Chewing Behaviors
For chewing that isn’t caused by teething, it’s a little more complicated. You’ll have to train your dog that it’s not acceptable behavior using positive reinforcement. Keep an eye on your dog, and any time you see him begin chewing, redirect his attention.
As soon as he begins chewing on something he shouldn’t, give him an appropriate toy and praise him when he chews on it instead. He’ll eventually begin to learn what he can and cannot chew on.
Some people use loud noises like whistles or coins in a can. All this really does is scare your dog, and it doesn’t redirect his chewing onto something more appropriate. There are items your dog is allowed to chew on, like his own toys, and his method won’t teach him the difference.
If redirecting his attention doesn’t work, you can spray any of the furniture he can reach with a spray that tastes terrible to him and will discourage him. This won’t teach him what’s appropriate to chew on, but it will help you out with the immediate chewing problem while you work on it.
Like most dog training techniques, this is not a quick fix. The way dog’s brains work, your dog may learn not to chew on your dining room table and simply move to the couch cushion. You’ll have to be patient, and keep an eye on your dog so that you can correct the behavior as soon as you see it.
And as usual, consult your vet if your dog is older and the chewing begins unexpectedly. Any new or unusual behavior should be checked out. It could be a sign of a new health problem or other concern.
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