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Stop Chewing

9 Unique Ways to Stop Chewing for Good (Video)

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Last time we talked about chewing on this blog was when my co-blogger, Franklin, told you how to handle a dog that just wouldn’t stop destroying your shoes. It’s been a while since that post, and since I recently spoke to a friend about dog chewing, I thought I’d check out what we had already shared with you about that behavior. That post is a great overview of why dogs chew and how to start training them to stop – but one of my specialties is coming up with ways to train dogs that you may not think of right away. So today I wanted to talk about some other ways to stop chewing.

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Dogs chew for all kinds of reasons. They may be bored, hungry, teething, or just following a habit. He may be trying to learn about the object and what it can tell him about you. Whatever the reason, the outcome is that your shoes, bags, furniture, clothing, or other possessions are in danger of never being whole again if you don’t curb this behavior quick. Here are nine ways to stop chewing for good that I believe are both smart and just “out there” enough to work.

(1) Create Safe Zones

So, one of the first things that any vet or training professional will tell you when you want a dog to stop chewing is that you need to supervise him. The best way to teach a dog not to do a behavior is to catch him in the act – and for that, you need to be there. But what if you can’t always be at your home, or you can’t always be shadowing your dog’s every move while you are home? Maybe you just need your dog to be safely out of the way while you clean the house for guests. Whatever the case may be, there are times when the best course of action is to create safe zones.

This means sectioning off a room or a part of the house where the dog can go, where you’ve ensured that there’s nothing they can’t chew on. For example, putting a dog gate at the door of the basement or the laundry room, after you’ve dog-proofed the area, can keep them in a safe zone where they won’t be able to hunt through your closet for a new chew toy.

(2) Get Rid of the Food Bowl

One way to teach a dog to want to chew on toys rather than your items is to associate toys with feeding time. And to do that, you need to stop thinking in the box – or in the bowl, rather – when it comes to the way dogs eat. Let me ask you something: As long as your dog gets all his food for the day, does it really matter how he gets it? Or how fast? Probably not, right? So why not feed him his meal in a chew toy? There are tons of chew toys that allow you to put a scoop or two of dog kibble inside. Just keep track of how much you’ve given him and refill as necessary. This teaches your dog what is a good thing to chew on, which is a great start.

(3) Increase the Value of Toys

One thing that putting food inside a toy does is increase the toy’s value to a dog. Now the toy is a very valuable thing that he wants to chew on more often. There are other ways to make chew toys more valuable to him, which will keep him desiring that toy rather than objects in your house. For example, the more that you play with him using that toy, the more he associates that toy with your attention. That’s a big value you’re helping him assign to that toy.

Another great thing to do is to only give your dog his treats in that toy. That adds value to the toy as well. You should always make a huge deal out of the toy when you are playing with it or giving it to him. Use that silly baby voice (we’ve all got one, don’t lie) and get your dog excited about this toy. Make him work for the toy by doing a trick or following a command first. The more he thinks that that toy is the “bomb diggity” that he must have, the more he’ll want to chew on it in the future. And be sure you’ve got more than one toy you’re building up like this so you can swap them out. Keeping one toy put away for a while makes it more exciting when it gets brought back out.

(4) Controlled Failure Training

Remember how I said that the best way to stop bad behavior is to catch it when it happens? Well, if you can’t always be around when your dog is chewing, one way to start deterring bad chewing is to set them up for a controlled scenario so that you can do just that. This helps a dog understand even more what they can and can’t chew. Get your dog into a chewing mood with a toy, and then put a few off-limits things that you know she usually chews on nearby. Just put them down near her, and then ignore her for a bit.

If she continues to chew on her toy only, go crazy with the praise. Give her treats and pet her and tell her she’s very good. If she grabs one of the off-limits things, you can simply take it away and redirect her to the dog toy. When she starts to chew on the toy again, give her all that praise. Don’t get mad when she chooses something off-limits, just be boring about it. She’ll start to think of the toy as fun and exciting, and the off-limits thing as boring. Just do this a couple of times a day till she starts to get it.

(5) Use Chewing Deterrent

In some cases, you may not have time to wait for your dog to “get it”. If you have heirloom furniture that is being destroyed, for example, you might need to combine a few tactics. One thing you can do is spray things that you don’t want chewed up with a chewing deterrent. These are usually made to spray on a dog itself, to stop them from chewing on their skin if they have a wound or something like that. They basically just work by making something taste bad to a dog.

If you go this route, be sure that the ingredients won’t cause whatever you are spraying to fade or anything. These are usually made with water, isopropanol, and flavoring. You may be able to spray this on shoes or other belongings to get a dog to stop chewing on them, but be aware that the smell will likely linger on the item.

(6) Set Up a Pet Camera

Can’t be home all the time to stop your dog from chewing on things? One high tech solution is a pet camera that allows you to talk to your dog from your smart phone or computer. You can set one of these up and check in with your dog every so often to make sure they aren’t chewing. Of course, you’ll only be able to see where you put the camera, so this probably works best if you have the dog in a safe zone, and the camera covers most of the safe zone.

You can get devices that have a camera, an audio capability, and a little treat dispenser, so that you can actually give your dog a treat and tell her she’s being good, while you aren’t there. I’m not 100% sure how effective this might be, but at least it gives you another way to keep your dog motivated. You may be able to train your dog to stay near the treat dispenser, which could keep them away from other areas of the house.

(7) Find Other Teething Solutions

One problem that many young dogs have is that they are teething, and chewing is soothing. While this is understandably uncomfortable, you can’t let a puppy get away with chewing for this reason. He’ll take this as a sign that it’s okay to chew, and you’ll have to work very hard to unteach that lesson later. It’s better to redirect his chewing energy to other soothing things. You can try freezing a damp washcloth for him, but if he gets any fibers pulled apart, it could be dangerous for his intestines if he eats them.

Here are a couple of different options for teething:

  • Try the KONG teething stick, which has ridges that massage the gums while the dog plays with it. It’s made so that you could put peanut butter or treat paste into the grooves.
  • Try the Puppy Teething Star, which has all these little nubs that massage the gums. However, watch out for the little nubs being yanked off and eaten if your dog is a very aggressive chewer.
  • Try some little rubber tires made specifically for chewing puppies if your dog tends to tear up toys. These don’t have any small bits that can come off, and tend to be very hardy.

(8) Make Sure Toys Don’t Look Like Household Objects

One big problem that I often see with toys in the dog mart is that they look like things we don’t want them to chew on! I’ve seen toys that looked like shoes, for example. How is a dog supposed to learn not to chew on shoes when you give him a shoe? He doesn’t know the difference between the toy and the real deal. Another problem in my opinion is anything that looks like a stuffed animal. I get that many dogs like them, but if you have kids and want to protect their toys, I would highly recommend not choosing something that looks like a stuffed animal.

Go for things shaped like bones. You can’t go wrong there. A classic KONG also works, because those don’t look like anything I can think of in a house. Don’t think that you’re giving him “his shoe” so he’ll leave “your shoes” alone. He has no idea what makes his shoe any different from yours, so all he is learning is that shoes are okay to chew on.

(9) Never Chase After Them

My final tip to stop chewing is more of a don’t than a do. It’s really important that you do not, ever, under any circumstances, chase a dog who is chewing on something you don’t want them to. You can calmly and firmly follow them to get the object back. But don’t break into a sprint or try to dodge around things, or “give chase” in any way. Why?

Because to a dog, being chased is a game. If you start to chase them around when they have something in their mouth, they interpret that as “Oh boy! If I pick up this thing, Mom/Dad comes to play with me!” You are reinforcing that thing as a fun thing to chew on because it leads to play time. You have to remember, no matter how frustrated you are, that chasing them is not going to help you get your item back long-term. Instead, try distracting them with something more exciting, such as food, to get them to drop the thing they have.

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The Final Word

So those are my nine ways to get a dog to stop chewing. The biggest factor in all of this is time. The more consistent you can be over time with your dog, the easier it will be for him to learn what he can and can’t chew on. Use a few of these tips together to make the learning process a bit faster, and be sure to spend plenty of time working on commands like “leave it”, “drop it”, or “come here”. These will help ensure that you can keep your valuables safe if they do get picked up.

Sources:

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/destructive_chewing.html??referrer=https://www.google.com/

http://3lostdogs.com/how-to-stop-your-dogs-destructive-chewing-in-9-easy-ish-steps/

https://petcube.com/blog/stop-dog-chewing/

 

About the Author Ash

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