You come home from a long day at work, and as you walk in the door you are hit with an overwhelming tornado of small scraps of…everything? It turns out your dog has been busy again while you were gone, chewing up any object in sight! Dog and puppy chewing can feel like a never-ending battle.
Dogs love to chew on things, but sometimes their chewing habits can get out of control altogether. No, they’re not trying to be destructive, they just get a little carried away sometimes!
If your dog is turning your home into their own personal chew toy buffet, don’t despair. There are usually underlying reasons why dogs chew, and with a little patience and training, you can help your furry friend break this destructive habit.
So I’m here to show you how to retrain a dog chewing everything in their sight so that you can save your home (and your sanity)!
In This Article:
Why Does Destructive Chewing Happen in the First Place?
Firstly, let’s take a look at some of the reasons dogs chew so that we can better understand how to address the issue.
Common causes of destructive chewing include::
Just like for baby humans, it can be a real pain in the neck to have those first teeth coming in. Dogs usually start teething around 3-6 months of age, and the chewing helps to soothe their aching gums.
This paired with their insatiable puppy energy can lead to a lot of destruction if they’re not given an outlet for their energy and chewing needs. They will chew on just about anything they can get their paws on, from your shoes to the furniture.
Another common reason puppies and dogs chew is out of boredom or anxiety. If a dog isn’t given enough mental and physical stimulation, they can become bored, which can lead to destructive chewing as a way to release that pent-up energy.
Dogs that are anxious or stressed may also turn to chewing as a form of self-soothing. They may also start to encroach on other animals in the home and bug them until they get a reaction, therefore causing tension among the pack.
3. Separation Anxiety
Some dogs may start to experience separation anxiety when their humans leave them alone for long periods of time. This can manifest in destructive chewing as a way to cope with the stress of being left alone.
Separation anxiety is caused by a fear of abandonment and can be a very serious problem. This fear may be compounded if the dog is not given enough exercise or attention when their humans are home.
When a mouth is hungry, it’s going to chew. This is the most straightforward reason for destructive chewing and one that is easily remedied.
If a dog is not getting enough food or is eating a low-quality diet, they may start to chew on things as a way to satisfy their hunger. This can be especially true for puppies who are growing rapidly and so need more calories than an adult dog.
5. It Just Feels Good
If your pupperino sees the whole world as a chew toy, it may just be because they like the way it feels! Chewing can consequently release pleasurable endorphins in a dog’s brain, much like how we humans get a runner’s high.
There are usually certain textures or flavors that your dog prefers, therefore they may be more likely to chew on certain things over others. Check out our new article on why dogs like squeaky toys so much!
How Do You Stop Compulsive Dog Chewing?
Now that we’ve discussed the roots of inappropriate chewing, let’s talk about how to put a stop to it.
There are a few different options you can try, and it may take some trial and error to find what works best for your doggerino.
But keep in mind that it’s important to be consistent with any training method you choose, as well as patient while your dog learns what is and is not okay to chew on.
And now, on to the solutions!
1. Watch for Warning Signs
One of the best ways to stop your dog from chewing is to catch them in the act and redirect their attention before they start. To do this, you’ll need to be able to read your dog’s body language so that you can tell when they’re about to start chewing.
Some common warning signs that a dog is about to start chewing include:
- Sniffing around intently
- Licking their lips
- Nudging things with their nose
- Pawing at something
If you see any of these signs, say “no” firmly and redirect your dog’s attention to something else, like a chew toy or a game of fetch.
2. Provide Appropriate Chewing Outlets
As we mentioned previously, dogs chew for different reasons, but above all, they do this to relieve boredom or stress. One way to stop a dog chewing what they shouldn’t is to provide your dog with plenty of appropriate things to chew on, like chew toys, bones, and antlers. You can also try feeder toys, which dispense treats as your dog plays with them, to help keep their attention particularly focused on the toy and not on your furniture.
If your dog is a heavy chewer, look for toys that are made specifically for heavy chewers and are, in addition, durable enough to stand up to some serious gnawing. Check out our article on the best toys for heavy chewers for helpful possible solutions to this problem.
You can even use the Furbo camera to spot them in the act and dispense treats to your dog while you’re away, which can help keep their mind occupied and stave off boredom.
3. Keep Your Dog Exercised
As we mentioned before, dogs may start chewing out of boredom if they’re not given enough exercise. Exercise has many super important benefits for your four-legged friend, including helping to relieve boredom and stress.
A good rule of thumb is that your dog should get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, although this may vary depending on their age, breed, and activity level. Some great physical activities for your doggo include walking, running, playing fetch, and swimming.
And here are 15 other fantastic activities and toys that you and your doggo can enjoy together.
4. Make Sure They’re Getting Enough to Eat
As we mentioned, hunger can also be a trigger for destructive chewing. If your dog is not getting enough food or is eating a low-quality diet, they may start chewing on things as a way to satisfy their hunger. This is especially true for puppies who are growing rapidly and therefore need more calories than an adult dog.
If you think your dog may be hungry, talk to your vet about increasing their food intake or alternatively switching to a higher-quality food. Start by giving them a little bit more food at each meal, and then increase the amount as needed until they’re no longer showing signs of hunger.
Make sure not to just feed your pupper a ton of treats. This can cause them to become overweight, which can lead to a whole host of other health problems.
5. Try a Calming Supplement
If your dog is stressed or anxious, this can also lead to destructive chewing. There are a few different calming supplements on the market that can help relieve stress and anxiety in dogs. These supplements usually contain ingredients like CBD, chamomile, and L-theanine, which have all been shown to have calming effects. Conventional prescription medications are available as well.
You can talk to your vet about whether or not a calming supplement is right for your dog. They can help you choose the right product and give you advice on the best way to use it.
6. Keep Your Doggerino’s Mind Active
My dog Indy is a smarty pants. I don’t say that to brag, I say it because she’s smart (although she uses that mostly for mischief) and also because she needs stimulation to stay out of trouble. When I first got her, I had no idea how much work it would be to keep her brain busy.
So to keep their minds active and occupied, try giving your dog puzzle toys or Kongs stuffed with food. These activities help to challenge your dog and keep their attention focused on something other than chewing up your furniture.
7. Remove Temptations
If your dog is constantly getting into things they’re not supposed to, it’s important to remove temptations and make it harder for them to get into trouble. This may mean moving things out of their reach, rearranging your home, or restricting access to certain rooms or areas of your house.
For example, if your dog is always chewing on your shoes, you may need to keep them in a closet or out of reach. If they’re always getting into the trash, you may need to move the trash can to a different location or invest in a lidded can.
The solutions will be unique to your home and your dog’s specific “tastes”, but the goal is to make it harder for them to get into things they’re not supposed to.
8. Use Bitter Sprays
Bitter sprays are a great way to deter your dog from chewing on things they’re not supposed to. These sprays contain a bittering agent that makes whatever you spray it on taste unpleasant. When your dog bites or chews on the sprayed object, they’ll taste the bitterness and should quickly learn to avoid it.
You can find bitter sprays at most pet stores or online. Be sure to read the label carefully to make sure the spray is safe for use around dogs. Some sprays contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, so it’s important to choose a product that is specifically designed to be safe for use on dogs and other animals.
9. Socialize Your Pupper
Don’t hide your dog’s fabulous personality away! Dogs who are well-socialized are less likely to become stressed or anxious and are therefore less likely to engage in destructive chewing.
Make sure your dog has plenty of opportunities to meet new people and other dogs. Take them for walks in different neighborhoods, to the dog park, or to doggie daycare. The more they’re around other people and animals, the more comfortable they’ll feel and the less likely they are to chew out of boredom or anxiety.
10. Invest in a Trainer
If you’re struggling to stop your dog’s destructive chewing, it may be time to invest in a professional trainer. A trainer can help you identify the root cause of the problem and develop a training plan to address it.
If you decide to go this route, be sure to do your research and find a reputable trainer who has experience working with dogs with chewing issues. Positive reinforcement training is often the most effective method for addressing this behavior.
You can team up with your vet to find a qualified trainer in your area, or ask friends or family for recommendations. Your vet can also rule out any medical reasons for the chewing.
At What Age Does a Dog Stop Chewing On Everything?
You can expect your puppy to stop chewing up everything in sight by about six months old. At this point, your dog’s baby teeth have fallen out and their adult teeth have grown in, so they shouldn’t need to chew as much.
It’s important to break this habit before it becomes entrenched, as dogs who continue to chew things up into adulthood can do it for old times’ sake, even if they aren’t teething anymore.
How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Destroying Things When Left Alone?
Monitoring your pupperino is one of the best ways to stop him from destroying things when left alone. This can look like setting up a camera, having a neighbor check on your dog, or hiring a dog walker to help release some of that energy.
You can also limit the space your dog has to roam when you’re not home by using baby gates, crates, or specific rooms. This will help prevent your dog from getting into things they’re not supposed to and will give them a safe space to relax.
Finally, don’t leave your pup home alone for too long! Try not to exceed four to six hours at a time, and make sure to provide plenty of toys, bones, water, and chew items to keep them occupied.
The Bottom Line: How to Stop a Dog From Chewing Things Up
There are a number of reasons why dogs chew on things, but the good news is that there are also a number of ways to stop them. By understanding the reasons behind the chewing and taking steps to provide appropriate outlets, you can help your furry bestie break this destructive habit.
Just remember to be patient and consistent, and you’ll be surely on your way to having a well-behaved pup in no time!