All dogs love to chew. It helps relieve stress and releases pleasurable endorphins into the body. Some breeds have a worse reputation for chewing than others, notably Jack Russell Terriers, American Pit Bull Terriers, Golden Retrievers and Labradors. Destructive chewing could be part of your dog’s DNA or genetics, but what training techniques can you implement to prevent this unwanted behavior in the future?
When It’s Alright to Chew
Puppies explore the world through their mouths. And when they begin teething, chewing can really help to alleviate the symptoms. This can go on for six months, so it’s best to comfort them and provide something cold they can put in their mouths to soothe the pain. Ice cubes work well or putting a favorite rubber toy in the freezer. Start training your puppy on what’s acceptable and not acceptable to chew, focus on encouragement and rewards for chewing their own toys.
As they get older, their desire to chew will continue but it’s important you channel it in the right way and recognize any behavioral triggers. Dogs will rarely chew to annoy you, but by understanding any possible causes of destructive chewing you can put appropriate measures in place and tailor training methods accordingly.
Why Do Dogs Chew?
- Older dogs may chew because they are bored or want attention.
- They might chew to relieve nervousness or reduce any feelings of fear.
- Separation anxiety is another cause of destructive chewing. Your dog might become stressed anytime they’re left alone.
- Medical reasons. Chewing can be a result of an unbalanced diet, too little calcium or gastrointestinal issues.
Preventing Destructive Chewing
Whatever the reason for destructive chewing, there are strategies you can put in place to help. First, it’s important to “dog-proof” your house. Tidy things away that you don’t want your dog to pick up and consider leaving your dog in a crate or utility room when you’re out of the house.
Everyone knows a tired dog is a happy dog. By providing enough physical exercise and mental stimulation, you can help release any excess energy and avoid issues with boredom. Hiding treats, indoor play and plenty of interaction will all tire your dog out.
Training your dog to chew their own toys is essential. This review of which toys work best to stop unwanted chewing could help. There is a variety to choose from and it helps to rotate them to maintain your dog’s interest. Kongs, Nylabones and Dental Sticks are all worth consideration. You can also discourage any destructive chewing on specific items by spraying them with unpleasant scents.
If you think your dog is experiencing separation anxiety, start introducing training techniques early to encourage independence and calmness. Establishing yourself as the leader and getting your dog to respond to commands will all help increase their confidence. It’s important to remember to avoid scolding or yelling at your dog if they do destroy something. Unless its immediate discipline, they won’t know why they are being shouted at.
By taking these preventative measures, understanding your dog’s behavior and encouraging appropriate chewing through positive training and reinforcement, you should get the results you want and avoid any destructive chewing in the future.
Want to talk to a professional about further training for your beloved Fido? Mark “Dogman” Castillero has trained over 10,000 dogs in his 40-year career. He and his team at Pro-Train Innovative are ready to help.