Are you tired of coming home to find your furniture destroyed by your furry friend? Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, but it can become a big problem if they target your valuable possessions. Thankfully, there are simple steps you can take to prevent your dog from chewing up your furniture. Below, We’ll go over why dogs chew and provide five effective strategies to tackle this issue.
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Understanding Why Dogs Chew
Dogs chew for a variety of reasons, and understanding these motivations is crucial for addressing the problem. Let’s explore some of the common reasons why dogs chew on furniture (and shoes, your hands…pretty much everything they can!)!
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Teething or Other Dental Issues
Just like human babies, puppies go through a teething phase where they experience discomfort in their mouths. Chewing helps to soothe their gums and provide relief during this period.
During the teething phase, puppies’ baby teeth start to fall out, making way for their adult teeth. This process can be uncomfortable and even painful for them.
Chewing on appropriate toys and bones helps to alleviate the discomfort by massaging their gums and providing a healthy outlet for their natural chewing instincts.
It is important for puppy owners to provide a variety of safe and durable chew toys specifically designed for teething puppies. These toys can be made of rubber or nylon, which are gentle on their developing teeth and gums.
Owners can prevent their puppies from damaging furniture, shoes, or other household items by redirecting their chewing behavior to these toys.
Boredom and Anxiety: The Emotional Triggers
Dogs are intelligent creatures that require mental stimulation to prevent boredom and anxiety. Chewing can be a way for them to cope with stress or alleviate boredom.
When dogs are left alone for long periods without any form of mental or physical stimulation, they may resort to chewing as a way to entertain themselves.
This behavior can be particularly common in breeds that are known for their high energy levels and intelligence, such as Border Collies or Australian Shepherds.
Providing dogs with plenty of exercise, interactive toys, and mental enrichment activities can help prevent boredom-related chewing.
Puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, and obedience training sessions can keep their minds engaged and provide a healthy outlet for their energy.
In cases where dogs exhibit anxiety-related chewing, it is important to identify and address the underlying causes of their anxiety. Separation anxiety, fear, or environmental change can trigger this behavior.
Consulting with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist can help develop a tailored plan to manage and reduce anxiety-related chewing.
Nutritional Deficiencies That Encourage Chewing
In some cases, dogs may chew on furniture to compensate for nutritional deficiencies. Ensuring they have a balanced diet is essential in preventing this behavior.
When dogs lack certain nutrients in their diet, they may exhibit pica, which is the consumption of non-food items. This can manifest as chewing on furniture, eating grass, or even ingesting rocks or other dangerous objects.
Feeding dogs a high-quality, well-balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs is crucial in preventing nutritional deficiencies. Consulting with a veterinarian or a canine nutritionist can help determine the appropriate diet for a dog’s specific needs.
Additionally, providing dogs with appropriate chew toys and bones can help satisfy their natural urge to chew without resorting to destructive chewing behaviors.
Chew toys made of natural materials, such as rawhide or antlers, can provide a long-lasting and safe chewing experience.
In conclusion, understanding the reasons why dogs chew is essential in addressing and managing this behavior. Whether it’s teething, boredom, anxiety, or nutritional deficiencies, providing appropriate outlets and addressing the underlying causes can help prevent destructive chewing and promote a happy and healthy canine companion.
Step 1: Provide Appropriate Chew Toys
One of the most effective ways to redirect your dog’s chewing behavior is by providing them with appropriate chew toys. Here’s what you need to consider:
Dogs have a natural instinct to chew; providing them with appropriate chew toys can help satisfy this instinct while protecting your furniture and belongings.
When choosing chew toys for your dog, it’s important to consider their size, age, and chewing habits.
Choosing the Right Chew Toys for Your Dog
Not all chew toys are created equal. Look for toys specifically designed for chewing and sturdy enough to withstand your dog’s chewing strength. Avoid toys that can easily be torn apart, as the small pieces may pose a choking hazard.
Various types of chew toys are available on the market, including rubber toys, nylon bones, and dental chews. Rubber toys, such as Kong toys, are great for dogs who enjoy chewing and can be stuffed with treats to provide mental stimulation.
Nylon bones (like Nylabone) are durable and can withstand aggressive chewers. Dental chews, on the other hand, not only provide a satisfying chewing experience but also promote dental health by reducing plaque and tartar buildup.
Consider your dog’s preferences and consult with your veterinarian to determine which type of chew toy would be most suitable for your furry friend.
Introducing the Chew Toys to Your Dog
It’s essential to introduce the chew toys to your dog in a positive manner. Simply placing the toys in front of them may not be enough to pique their interest. Instead, try using treats or praise to encourage them to interact with the toys.
Start by offering the chew toy to your dog while praising them and using a happy, excited tone of voice. You can also rub a small amount of peanut butter or another tasty treat on the toy to make it more enticing. This positive association will help them understand that the chew toy is a rewarding and enjoyable item.
Additionally, you can engage in interactive play with the chew toy to further stimulate your dog’s interest. Toss the toy and encourage your dog to fetch it or play a game of tug-of-war. By incorporating play into the introduction of the chew toy, you are reinforcing its value and making it a fun and engaging experience for your dog.
Remember to supervise your dog while they are chewing on their toys, especially in the beginning stages. This will allow you to ensure their safety and prevent any potential choking hazards.
Step 2: Use Deterrent Sprays
If your dog has a particular affinity for a certain piece of furniture, deterrent sprays can play a significant role in training your dog to avoid chewing on your prized possessions.
How Deterrent Sprays Work
Deterrent sprays have a bitter taste that dogs find unpleasant. By spraying the product on your furniture, you are sending a clear message to your dog that the object is off-limits.
The bitter taste acts as a deterrent (hence the name), discouraging your dog from chewing on the sprayed surface. It’s important to note that while deterrent sprays can be effective, they should be used in conjunction with proper training and supervision.
When using a deterrent spray, it’s essential to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Typically, you must apply the spray evenly on the surface of the furniture you want to protect.
Make sure to cover all areas your dog has shown an interest in chewing. It’s also a good idea to test the spray on a small, inconspicuous area of the furniture first to ensure that it doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration.
Safe and Effective Deterrent Sprays on the Market
There are several safe and effective deterrent sprays available in the market. Look for products that are made from natural ingredients and are specifically formulated for dogs. These sprays are designed to be non-toxic and safe for both your dog and your furniture. They often contain ingredients like bitter apple, lemon extract, or other plant-based substances that dogs find unpalatable.
When choosing a deterrent spray, it’s important to consider your dog’s preferences and sensitivities. Certain scents or flavors may deter some dogs, so it may take trial and error to find the best spray for your furry friend. Additionally, opt for sprays free from harsh chemicals and additives, as these can harm your dog’s health.
It’s worth noting that while deterrent sprays can be effective, they are not a standalone solution to prevent chewing. It’s crucial to provide your dog with appropriate chew toys and engage them in regular exercise and mental stimulation.
Proper training and positive reinforcement techniques can also help redirect their chewing behavior towards more suitable alternatives.
You can also try making your own bitter apple spray! Check out the video below.
Step 3: Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation
As mentioned earlier, boredom and anxiety can contribute to destructive chewing. To prevent this behavior, make sure your dog gets enough exercise and mental stimulation. Here’s how:
The Importance of Daily Walks
Regular walks provide physical exercise for your dog and also allow them to explore their surroundings. Aim for at least 30 minutes of brisk walking each day to keep them physically tired and mentally engaged.
Interactive Games to Keep Your Dog Engaged
In addition to walks, engage your dog in interactive games that challenge their problem-solving skills. Puzzle toys, hide-and-seek games, and obedience training sessions are all great ways to keep their minds stimulated and prevent boredom.
Step 4: Training Your Dog Not to Chew
Dog training plays a crucial role in preventing unwanted chewing behavior. Here are some tips to help you train your dog:
Basic Commands That Can Help
Teaching basic commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “leave it” can be invaluable in redirecting your dog’s focus away from chewing. Practice these commands regularly and reward your dog for obeying them.
Check out the video below for some tips from my favorite dog trainer, Zak George.
When to Consider Professional Training
If your dog’s chewing behavior persists despite your efforts, it may be beneficial to seek professional training. A professional dog trainer can evaluate your dog’s behavior, identify any underlying issues, and provide specialized techniques to address the problem.
Following these five simple steps and being patient and consistent with your training can prevent your dog from chewing up your furniture. Understanding why dogs chew and providing appropriate outlets for their chewing instincts are key to a harmonious living environment with your fur baby.