My dog is chewing. What can I do?

September 2, 2019 at 7:50 pm Leave a comment

Before I commit murder can you tell me how to stop my 2 year old dog from chewing?  He was caught chewing the arm off my $8,000.00 designer sofa while lying on it.  I am so angry and at my wits end. Yesterday he was caught chewing the corner off one of our very expensive Persian rugs.

This dog sure has expensive taste in chew toys!  Did you know that you can purchase $2.00 to $10.00 chew toys at your local pet store?  Perhaps the next time you go furniture shopping, take him with you.  This way he can pick out his next favorite chew toy.  After all it is the people who are crazy not the dogs. You see you have a relationship problem; your dog already knows that genetically whatever belongs to Alpha is left alone.  If your dog truly respected you as the leader or Alpha, than this would never have happened (especially with a 2 year old dog).  Instead your dog thinks that he owns the house and because of this, everything in the house is his to chew at his leisure. I guess he also makes the mortgage payments!

Since you were at home when this happened, we can rule out “separation anxiety”. The bottom line is, your dog is just plain bored and sees this as a wonderful vacation resort created solely for him. This poor, bored dog has no other job to do, and with so much free time, they go looking for trouble.

First of all you need to add structures in the household that the dog has to follow. There is no free lunch. Make them “sit-stay” for feeding and “sit-stay” to go in and out of doors. Make them do something such as “Come”, “Sit” or “Lay Down” in order to receive a pet or praise. If they are in a crate, make them wait and only come out when given permission. In other words, they are not allowed to just bolt out. We also suggest that you get your dog off of the sofa and bed.  Dogs take their sleeping area very seriously. An Alpha dog will not share it with anyone else. Dogs are very aware of height privileges. Higher ranking members always sleep higher.

Chewing may have started because they were bored, however it can also become a habitual habit, just like someone biting their nails when bored or nervous. So, let’s go back to the basics which are making sure to fulfill your dog’s three major needs.  PHYSICAL, you have a sporting dog that was bred to run and swim all day long without tiring.  Your dog needs to get some aerobic type exercise, running back and forth for twenty minutes twice a day. MENTAL, your dog needs a job; we do obedience training for this.  SOCIAL, we want to be able to trust our dog under all circumstances.  In return for observing the first two canine needs, physical and mental, as well as, establishing the language in which to communicate; your dog can become an acceptable member of your family and not a prisoner in your backyard or crate.

We are also going to treat your two year old dog like a puppy.  He needs to be under your constant supervision.  If you can’t supervise him, put him in the crate.  If you limit the time allowable for him to get into trouble, you can stop a vicious cycle.  You need to prevent him from doing this bad habit of chewing up your belongings so your dog will instead chew on the things that are allowable for him. If he starts to put something not appropriate in his mouth, distract his attention by clapping your hands, stepping forward and saying “aaaght”. You can also use a “shaking can”, squirt bottle of water, or a pet convincer to get his attention.  Use anything that will startle and interrupt his behavior, and allow you time to give him one of his appropriate chew toys. In other words, interrupt unwanted behavior, redirect to wanted behavior and reward good behavior.

These steps will help to teach your dog to leave your stuff alone in your presence. To help in your absence, we spray the items that you want to protect with one of the products that make things “bitter tasting”.  There are many products available at your local pet store.  You must find which product works best for your dog, as some dogs learn to love the taste.  This is why, once an item is heavily sprayed, I will touch the dog’s lips to the item.  This is a stronger and direct approach, limiting the chances of making your dog like the bitter spray.

Now don’t take the suggestion of using a bitter tasting product to stop unwanted chewing out of context. Without establishing control from the psychological point, you are just putting a band-aide on a more serious problem. As for your sofa, you might call a very good reupholstering shop to fix it just like new or cover the arm with a nice afghan.

 

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