It happens to the best of us — we leave our dog at home for a few hours to complete some errands, and despite the six perfectly good chew toys scattered around the room, our dog has completely destroyed our favorite pair of shoes.
Excessive chewing in puppies and adult dogs is a common problem. Here are some tips address your dog’s chewing habits:
1. Do not leave chew toys out
You’ve purchased a variety of exciting and expensive dog toys out for your dog. So why does Spunky always reach for your shoes? It could be because you are leaving his chew toys out for constant access. By leaving the toys in an area your dog has immediate access to, the toys have become part of the environment – no more exciting than a chair or your coffee table. In short – you’ve let those expensive toys become boring to your dog. Your shoes then become a new and exciting toy to chew on.
Instead of leaving the toys out all the time, try keeping them in a closed box or in a closet. When you’re looking to distract your dog with some safe and approved chewing, offer the box of toys to your dog. This way your dog can select the toy he is most interested in. Once he does select a toy, give your dog lots of praise. Spend an extra couple of minutes playing a quick game of fetch with the toy, or a quick round of tug. This will help your dog associate the toy with playtime.
2. Use puzzle and food toys
Investing in a puzzle game is a great way to entertain your dog for an extended period of time. Many pet supply stores will stock treat balls designed with small holes for food. You can put your dog’s entire meal, or a handful of treats inside the ball. In order for him to get the food, he will have to push the ball around.
There are also a variety of puzzle toys available. With a puzzle toy, your dog will have to move segments of the toy with his nose, or press elements with his paws to obtain the treats. These toys will not only keep your dog distracted for some time, but will also help to provide mental stimulation. But be sure you think critically about which toy you purchase. If your dog likes chewing plastic, you may want to consider a different toy.
If you crate your dog during the day, try using a Kong toy. You can fill the Kong with peanut butter, cream cheese, or your dog’s favorite snack before you go.
3. Use a bitter spray
For dogs that enjoy chewing furniture, floor molding and shoes, you can purchase a bitter apple or similar chew-deterrent spray. The smell and taste of these sprays are designed to make chewing un-appealing to your dog. You may need to experiment with which spray or flavor is least-appealing to your dog. While many sprays market themselves as safe for furniture, it’s recommended to test a small area first to prevent any staining or damage from the spray.
4. Exercise your dog
If you come home from work to find your couch pillows shredded, it could be because your dog is bored. Investing in a mid-day walk for your dog, or swinging your dog by a local doggy daycare is a great way for your dog to get some exercise and socialization. A tired dog is more likely to nap than chew! Providing a variety of exciting and unique experiences for your dog can solve a lot of stress and boredom linked to excessive chewing.
5. Set your dog up for success
Be sure you are setting your dog up for success prior to leaving your dog alone. If you have a dog that loves chewing on shoes, be sure you put your shoes in a place where your dog doesn’t have access to them. Puppy-proofing your home is crucial to having a dog that chews on the appropriate toys. Try crouching down to get to your dog’s eye level. If you see items that you think your dog might enjoy chewing, move them off of the ground, or put them in a closet.
If removing access to your dog’s favorite chewables is not possible, consider restricting your dog’s access to a certain area of your home – such as setting up a baby gate in your kitchen, or crating your dog.
Unsupervised chewing can be dangerous to your dog. Not only will these extra steps keep your furniture pristine, but will also help your dog stay happy and healthy.