The act of chewing seems to be a matter of individual preference among dogs.
Some have an innate desire to chew as a pleasurable activity in itself while others have no need to chew whatsoever unless they are driven to it out of sheer boredom or desperation.
The phrase destructive chewing may sound redundant because – by its very nature – all chewing is destructive.
Your dog has strong jaws full of sharp, pointy teeth.
Just about anything she starts to chew on is probably going to show the effects of it inside of a minute.
So just to clarify, when I use the phrase destructive chewing, I’m referring to inappropriate chewing.
You know, the kind of chewing that’s focused on your own possessions and household items instead of on your dog’s own designated toys and chews.
Here are 3 main reasons why dogs chew:
1. Most dogs have a natural desire to chew. It is fun, passes the time, and it’s a self-rewarding, self-reinforcing activity (for example, if she’s chewing on something that tastes good.
2. Chewing provides a nervous, bored, or lonely dog with an outlet for her emotions. To an anxious dog, the repetitive act of chewing is soothing – it is the dogie equivalent of comfort food.
3. Under-exercised dogs often use chewing as a way of burning up nervous energy and giving themselves something to do.
How To Prevent Destructive Chewing
Dogs are perfectly capable of learning not to chew your stuff.
You just have to put in a little effort first.
1. Take Control Of The Situation
Manage your own possessions.
Your first step should be to dog-proof your home.
Even if you have the best-behaved dog in the world, there is still no reason to test her self-control.
After all, dogs explore the world with their mouths.
Dog-proofing your home means taking whatever you do not want to end up in her mouth, and making it unavailable.
Consider her size and agility when deciding whether something is out of reach.
Can she jump?
Can she climb?
Or leap onto something else to reach the desired object?
How tall is she when standing on her back legs?
Common targets in the home include books, eyewear, clothing, shoes, garbage, and small crunchy appliances like cameras, cell phones, and remote controls.
It should go without saying that all food needs to be put securely away.
Do not leave snacks on low tables (or even counter tops.
You will be surprised how acrobatic she can be when there is food at stake!
If you have to, put all food into containers or the pantry.
Rinse your dirty plates clean of any food scraps before leaving them by the sink.
2. Prevent Her From Learning The Joys Of Illegal Chewing
The more times she manages to snatch a jawful of a forbidden substance –like a chair-leg, a pillow, a running shoe, the more readily she will target those items in future.
If you can prevent her from chewing your stuff in the first place, it will be much easier for her to understand what you expect of her.
Practically speaking, this means confining her in a dog-proofed area until you are confident of her understanding of the house rules.
3. Do Not Set Her Up For Failure
By blurring the boundaries between chewing her stuff and NOT chewing your and others stuff.
Do not offer your dog cast-off clothes, shoes, or towels to chew and play with.
Realistically, you cannot possibly expect her to be able to tell the difference between your current shoes and the one she got in her mouth that you gave her five minutes ago.
4. Provide Her With Plenty Of Tasty Alternatives To Your Stuff
If her environment is relatively barren of attractive, appropriate chewing objects, you can hardly blame her for targeting your possessions.
Remember, most dogs need to chew.
If she is an adolescent (under 3 years) or a puppy (under 1 year), her needs will be even more pronounced.
Go on a toy and chew shopping spree, then give her 2 or 3 to play with at a time.
Rotating the available toys every few days will keep things novel and interesting for her.
5. Spend More Time In Active Supervision
Though you can keep her penned up in her crate, run, or the yard, that will be boring and horrible for her.
And hardly much fun for you either.
She cannot learn what you expect of her if she spends all her time boxed up in the dog-proof zone.
Rather she needs the opportunity to explore the boundaries of your expectations.
This is so that she can understand what is and what is not appropriate.
6. Getting Her Attention When She Chews Something Inappropriate
When you catch her chewing something inappropriate, interrupt her by making a loud noise.
Like clapping your hands or make an ah noise.
Then, immediately hand her a tasty and dog-appropriate alternative such as a rawhide bone or other chew toy.
As soon as her jaws close around it, praise her lavishly.
There is no better way to get your dog to understand that chewing her toys equals praise from you, but everything else equals trouble.
7. Maintain A Productive Attitude
Above all, remember to keep your expectations realistic.
You are not perfect, and neither is your dog.
There will likely be at least one incident where a cherished item is damaged by her curiosity.
For more information on dog training techniques and how to deal with problem dog behavior, check out Secrets to Dog Training.
This is the complete manual for dog ownership and is designed to fast-track your dog’s learning.