Chewing is what dogs were born to do. It’s a way to pass the time or let out stress, as humans chew gum or smoke a cigarette. But dog chewing can be destructive and expensive for dog owners. Who would not be upset to come home and find his expensive new shoes chewed into something resembling cowpats? And yet, though dog chewing frustrates and angers us, the only way to teach a dog to stop chewing is with love and understanding.
The reason is simple, if dog chewing comes from boredom, yelling at a dog will not make him less bored next time we are out. And if dog chewing results from anxiety, our anger will only make matters worse. Finally, unlike humans who can link events across time, a dog can’t make any sense of a chewed piece of furniture-after he is done chewing it. You can rant and rave, but the dog will not link his chewing with your expressions of anger.
So how can we stop dog chewing in its tracks? With love and understanding.
Begin training your dog not to chew by showing him what he is actually allowed to chew. Get him special chew toys and give him delicious chew sticks reserved especially for when you are out. Tell him that he is a “Good boy” for chewing these. Then when you catch the dog in the act of chewing something else, tell him firmly that he is a “Bad boy”, and show the dog what to chew instead.
It’s a good idea to adopt a few “Leave It” games. If the dog can learn to leave a toy, he can learn to leave your expensive shoes. Simultaneously, engage in training that establishes you as the benevolent leader. Teach your dog to come to you when you call him. Make sure you walk out the door first, or up the stairs first, always in a position of leadership. Have your dog sit before you give him a snack to chew. Make it a rewarding experience for the dog to follow your lead.
Finally, if a dog just falls in love with a piece of carpet or table leg, try spreading foul tasting substances, like Tabasco sauce on wood furniture, or colorless bitter apple spray on fabrics and rugs.