Destructive chewing is a complaint of many dog owners, but it can be corrected by rewarding positive chew habits and ensuring plenty of physical and mental exercise. It is also important to determine the reason a dog is demonstrating this behavior.
- Understand why the dog is chewing
Puppies chew because they are teething, a painful process that is often relieved by the act of chewing. During this time, it is important to correct destructive chewing habits and enforce positive ones. Adult dogs chew mainly out of boredom and separation anxiety.
- Enforce positive chewing habits
Dogs need to learn the difference between what is appropriate and inappropriate to chew on. Correct destructive behavior by teaching a dog that furniture, shoes and personal belongings are off limits. Reprimand the dog, and take away the object, replacing it with a chew toy or bone. Provide plenty of positive reinforcement and praise when the dog chews on the appropriate toys. Teething toys are great for puppies, and Kong toys and bones make good choices for adult dogs. Using this method, the dog will learn which objects are his and which are not. Products such as bitter apple sprays can be used to deter dogs from chewing on furniture during this process.
- Give the dog plenty of exercise
Dogs need mental and physical exercise to prevent boredom. Chewing is typically a result of boredom. Exercise produces endorphins, which have a calming effect. Providing a dog with plenty of physical exercise and appropriate toys ensures its energy is not directed elsewhere, such as destructive chewing.