Dog Training: 12 Tips To Stop Destructive Chewing

Dogs love to chew …. anything and everything!

When you first bring a new puppy home, you’ll likely find his mouth wrapped around nearly everything in sight. There are a few reasons why dogs chew:

  1. Puppies use their mouths to explore and learn all about this big new world they are now a part of.
  2. Teething! Whether you’re talking about a canine kid or a human baby, biting down on various objects during the teething stage offers relief.
  3. Some canines chew to soothe their anxiety. I’m all too familiar with this one! As a young pup, my toy Poodle, Gigi, used to chew up one corner of my rug ever time I left the house to relieve her severe bouts of separation anxiety!
  4. Boredom

The goal shouldn’t be to stop your pooch from chewing completely—after all, chewing is a natural canine behavior that offers many benefits. It helps keep their jaw muscles strong, teeth clean, busts boredom, and helps relieve anxiety. They just need to learn what’s appropriate for them to chew. Read on for the top do’s and don’ts when trying to stop your dog from destructive chewing!

Stop Destructive Chewing: What To Do

1. Puppy Proof Your Home

Whether you have a young teething puppy or an adult dog who is still chewing everything in sight, the first thing you should do is puppy proof your home. In other words, remove the temptation until your pooch is trained and understands what’s his to chew.

In order to accomplish this, don’t leave random things out—put your shoes away, pick up the kid’s toys, hide the electrical cords, and keep wires tucked away. Be especially mindful about leaving any human foods around that can be harmful or deadly to your pooch. Plus, be very cautious about medicines, plants and household cleaners.

If your pooch ever gets into something potentially poisonous, don’t wait to get help. The Pet Poison Helpline is an animal poison control center available 24/7. They do charge a fee for service. But if your vet isn’t available, it’s comforting to know they are there. Their website also offers a wealth of free information!

2. Offer Chew Toys & Safe Bones

Make sure Fido has plenty of his own appropriate toys and bones available for him to chew. If he has a good selection of things to busy himself, he won’t need to chew on your dining room table, couch, or new shoes.

3. Focus On Mental Stimulation

Work his mind with interactive toys and puzzles. Here’s how they work: You hide snacks and little bits of food inside the puzzle and your dog has to figure out how to retrieve the tasty snack. They come in multiple challenge levels and it’s useful to stock up on a few different games to keep your pooch engaged. I personally use them daily with my own pups and they stay occupied for quite a while. Check out this video to see my 3 favorite puppy puzzles!

4. Make Your Pooch Tired

If your dog is suffering from lack of exercise or stimulation then he may chew things out of boredom. Make sure you exercise your pup daily through walks, games of fetch, etc. If he’s mentally and physically stimulated, he’s less likely to look for other things to get himself into.

5. Use Safe Deterrents

Have you ever heard of Bitter Apple or Bitter Lemon? They’re sprays specifically formulated to make things taste terrible to your pooch. Bitter sprays are extremely effective deterrents for many dogs. However, I have met a few canines who chew through the yucky taste without a care. It’s all about figuring out what works best for your dog. So, during the training stage, it may be worth a try!

6. Redirect His Attention

If you catch your fur kid in the act, clap your hands or make a startling noise so he stops chewing and redirects his attention to you. Next, replace the item with a dog toy or something else he’s allowed to chew.

7. Get Professional Help If Necessary

If the problem persists and you just can’t get a handle on it, make an appointment with a behaviorist or trainer. Never feel ashamed to seek professional help! Trust me, letting yourself get to the point of total frustration isn’t good for you or Fido.

8. Seek A Medical Consult If Necessary

So you’ve tried everything and even a professional can’t seem to curb the behavior? Call your vet.  Did you know there are some medical conditions and nutritional deficiencies that could be the cause of your pooches destructive chewing?

What Not To Do

9. Don’t Yell At Him

If you didn’t witness your dog in the act and just happened to stumble upon the remnants of his handiwork, don’t scold him. Dogs live in the moment and won’t know why you’re yelling.

10. Never Restrain His Mouth!

Don’t muzzle him or use any other method to keep your pup’s mouth closed in order to stop him from chewing. This won’t accomplish anything positive. Rather, it will only increase your dog’s stress and decrease his trust in you.

11. Don’t Confuse Him

This sounds pretty obvious, but never give Fido an old shoe to chew on because he’s not going to know the difference between the tattered shoe and a brand new pair.

12. Don’t Use The Crate As Punishment

Don’t keep Fido in a crate for hours at a time just because you’re frustrated and don’t know what else to do. It will only increase his stress, cause frustration, and could lead to depression. If you’re at your wits’end, seek a professional’s help.