My Dog Chews On Everything, How Do I Stop It?
Dogs love to chew. We are less than enthusiastic to let them chew on our favorite shoes, furniture, or even our walls. Here are some reasons why they may be chewing:

If your dog is a puppy, he may be chewing to

  • Iinvestigate their environment
  • Relieve the discomfort of teething

Adult dogs chew because

  • It feels good
  • Helps pass the time when there’s nothing else to do
  • Because a tooth hurts
  • Some nutrient is missing from the diet
  • A food smell has attracted them to an item

Whatever the reason, chewing problems are easier to prevent than correct, and are best corrected using positive methods.

Punishing a dog for inappropriate chewing is seldom successful in correcting the problem. To be effective, punishment must be 100% consistent. If you punish your dog for chewing in your presence, he simply learns to chew when you are gone. Punishment more than 3 seconds after the crime is not effective, because your dog has already forgotten the crime. If you come home to a scene of destruction, very calmly tell your dog to go get a chew toy and praise him for bringing one to you. If you need to let off steam, go in another room, away from the dog, and beat up a pillow. Beating a dog simply teaches him to fear you and possibly people in general.

The best way to protect your furnishings and possessions is to start when your puppy is young. Confine her when you cannot supervise her play, provide sufficient exercise and proper nutrition, offer appropriate chew toys and praise him for using them. Crating your puppy can be a life-saver, preventing him from chewing electrical cords or ingesting poisons when left unsupervised.  Make sure the crate is large enough to allow your dog to stretch out.  Provide a comfy bed, and a couple of really good chew toys. When you are with try to catch the pup in the act of chewing the right thing and praise lavishly.

Exercise Body and Mind
Many chewing problems are solved by ensuring your dog has sufficient exercise. A 30-minute walk in the morning before you leave will help relax and even tire her enough to reduce her desire to chew. 

Incorporating some training exercises into the walk, such as having him sit or lay down at several points on the walk will also help relax the dog. If a walk is impossible, 15 or 20 minutes of tossing a ball in the backyard or down a flight of carpeted stairs for the dog to retrieve will do the trick. If you have a tread mill and live in cold weather, a supervised run will also do the trick. Your dog should also have some exercise in the evening, to help him relax for bedtime.

Take the time to teach your dog to chew on chew toys. Always reinforce your dog with lots of praise when you see him chewing on his toys. Play games such as toss and fetch with a toy to increase his interest. If the problem chewing continues and is limited to items that smell like you, carry a new chew toy around in your pocket for a day and handle it, or just rub your hands over one of his toys to leave your scent. Once he has the hang of chewing on his toys, teach him to “Get your toy,”  praising him when he brings one to you.

Keep chew toys in every room of the house until your dog gets good at finding them on command or on her own. Eventually, you can keep them in a centrally located toy basket, giving her unlimited access to them. Periodically you will have to fish them out from under chairs and sofas and return them to the basket.

Once training is under way, you can lead your dog to a forbidden object, move the object around, just as he is about to engage the item say “OFF!” in a firm voice, and then give the "Get your toy” command. Repeat this several times.

If you catch him investigating a forbidden object on his own, repeat the “OFF” and “Get your toy” command. This is what trainers call an instructive reprimand, letting him know by tone of voice and words what is wrong and how he can correct the problem.

Appropriate Chew Toys
Provide your dog with a variety of chew toys, including a Kong toy, nylon bones, sterilized marrow bones, and a soft type or twisted rope toy. Different dogs prefer different textures, and one dog may prefer several different toys depending on its mood. Avoid home-made toys like worn-out tennis shoes or knotted socks. You may not be able to teach your dog the difference between old shoes and your brand-new $100 running shoes and certain fibers (the nylon in socks) can be very dangerous to a dog when ingested. It is cheaper to spend money on good dog toys than to replace your good clothes.  Hollow toys, such as the Kong or marrow bones can be stuffed with peanut butter or cheese to increase interest.  After some trial and error, you will discover what your dog likes best.  It’s a good idea to stock up on favorite toys, so that new ones are always available.

Nutrition and Health
If your older dog suddenly develops a chewing problem, have your vet do a thorough exam to rule out illness, such as an abscessed tooth. With all dogs, be sure their diet is adequate to meet their nutritional needs. A dog with a fixation on chewing a particular substance (such as wood or paper) may have a pica, a craving for something missing from the diet. Look for a food with as little filler as possible and avoid foods with additives and byproducts.

Many dogs develop destructive chewing habits when their feeding schedule changes, specifically when meals are decreased from twice a day to once a day. All dogs should be fed at least twice a day (growing puppies three times a day) to prevent such chewing problems, as well as other potentially serious health problems.

The Puppy-Proof Method
Use your common sense to keep your puppy away from unwanted chewing. If he chews on shoes, keep them in your closet with the door closed. Keep books and other chewables out of his/her reach. Go through your home and look to see what may be tempting for your puppy to chew on. Eliminate any unsafe or inappropriate items.

The Bitter Apple Method
Another handy aid to help prevent chewing is a product called Bitter Apple. It can be purchased at pet stores and through pet catalogs. Be sure to spot-test prior to spraying on a good piece of furniture. It must be reapplied daily, as it wears off in approximately 24 hours. There is also available a Bitter Apple for furniture that lasts longer. You will also want to test it with your dog as my dog likes the taste of bitter apple.


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