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How to Stop Destructive Chewing?

Posted by Shawn Goh on

Chewing is actually a normal behaviour for dogs, and puppies. Puppies tend to chew especially when they are teething, chewing helps to relieve some of the pain from the new teeth growing into place. Older dogs chew instinctively to keep their jaws strong and their teeth clean. Always provide some dog chews to your dog so that they can carry out this instinctive behaviour, without destroying your belongings. When chewing is destructive, there are 3 simple steps to solving the problem. 
Stop Dog Destructive Chewing

1. Identify the Reason(s) for Destructive Chewing

You can stop destructive chewing by identifying the reason or reasons why your dog might be chewing and managing that problem. ⁠There may be more than one cause for the destructive chewing. Here are some of the most common reasons why your dogs chew, and how to manage these issues:

Lack of Exercise⁠

Exercise is an important part of every dog's life, especially if your dog is young and active. Exercise helps your dog to release the energy built up from all the sleeping and eating, so that when they are home, they will want to rest and relax instead of being alert and hyper energized all the time. Most dogs need a long walk at least once a day, preferably 30 mins or more.
If you go jogging, you can also bring your dog along. While small breeds may not be ideal jogging companions, most medium breeds and larger dogs should be able to keep up with you. Just remember to train your dog progressively, start with a shorter distance, and slower pace, and slowly work your way up to your usual speed. 
If you live near a dog run, you can bring your dog there for some play time with other doggy friends. And if you don't live nearby, you can consider bringing your dog over the weekend or even once in awhile. This will also help with the mental stimulation, which is our next point.
Dog Destructive Chewing - Dog Catching Frisbee

Lack of Mental Stimulation⁠

When a dog doesn't get enough mental stimulation, some of them get bored and they will look for things to "play" with. And sometimes that play becomes destructive, especially on your beloved belongings. Similar to exercise, a daily dose of mental stimulation helps your dog to be calm when they should be.
You can mentally stimulate your dog by giving them some toys, and playing with them. Fetch, tug of war, hide and seek, are some games that you can play with your dog. You can also increase mental stimulation by rotating the toys you give to your dog to play with. 
Stop Destructive Chewing - Dog Chewing Shoe

Stress, Fear or Frustration⁠

Stress, fear and frustration are some of the other emotions that can bring about destructive chewing behaviour. There are countless reasons why your dog might be stressed, fearful or frustrated. My dog, Princess, was once so timid she was afraid of plastic bags blowing wind. 
Prevent chewing out of fear, stress and frustration by avoiding exposure to things that will potentially may your dog nervous or upset.

Hunger⁠

Some dogs live for food. And when they are hungry, they turn their cravings to the thing that resembles food in terms of smell or texture. This usually means things like shoes, socks, or other household items may become victims of your dog's hunger pangs. 
Feed your dog at regular intervals and give them dental chews or low calorie treats to alleviate their hunger pangs while they wait for meal time. This will allow your dog to have something to snack on instead of chewing on your favourite shoes.
Stop Destructive Chewing - Hungry Dog

Separation Anxiety⁠

Chewing caused by separation anxiety happens only when you are not around, or more intensely when you are not around. It is usually accompanied by many other signs that your dog has separation anxiety. Things like barking, whining, restlessness, walking around, peeing and pooing. 
Separation anxiety is a more complex issue which is slightly harder to treat. The simplest way to manage the problem, you can use dog gates or playpens to limit your dog to a certain area while you are out. Leave your dog with a blanket or old tshirt with your smell, a chew toy, and water. That will give your dog some comfort while you are out. 
Treating separation anxiety is a whole larger issue which we talk about in our article about separation anxiety. Do message us if you want to learn more about it before we write about it.
Stop Destructive Chewing - Dog Separation Anxiety

2. Keep Your Dog Away From Things They Shouldn't Chew

The best cure is prevention, and that doesn't just apply to health. It makes so much more sense to keep your dog within a play pen or behind a dog gate. Make sure that there isn't anything in the gated area that your dog can potentially destroy and you will save yourself a lot of heartache.
While confining your dog to a small area might feel cruel, dogs actually don't need that much space all the time. With proper crate training, they can feel safe and at home in a playpen. As long as you let your dog expend their energy, stretch their legs and mentally stimulate them, they will be happy to spend time resting in their own little area while you are away. 

3. Training your Dog to Chew the Right Thing

Whenever you catch your dog chewing something they shouldn't, give them a proper chew toy, dog bone, or dental chew to chew on instead. Praise them and provide positive reinforcement for chewing the appropriate chew. Keep this up until your dog learns which item they should be chewing on. 
Some things that you can give your dog to chew on are:
Dog Bones
Dog bones sold in pet stores are specially prepared for dogs to chew on. Cooked bones, like your leftover chicken or other bones are not good for dogs to chew on as they can splinter into pieces with sharp edges. This can cause tears and hurt your dog as it moves through your dog's digestive system. Some dogs may even chip their own teeth while chewing, or choke on pieces that they swallow. So always give your dog only bones that are prepared specifically for dogs to chew on, and always supervise your dog while they are chewing on a bone.
Dental Chews
Dental chews may not last as long as Dog Bones, but they serve an additional purpose of keeping your dog's teeth clean and healthy. They are also softer than most dog bones, which ensures that it won't harm your dog's teeth. We recommend Whimzees as they have proven to be more effective than other popular brands at cleaning dog's teeth.
Chew Toys
Chew toys come in all shapes, sizes and even textures. Some gentler dogs will enjoy playing with furry soft toys, gently biting and licking the fur of the toys. While some aggressive chewers may a need a more hardy toy like a Kong Wobbler.

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