No doubt about it, most dogs love to chew. Beginning in the early stages of puppyhood they mouth, and chew, just about anything they can sink their sharp little teeth into. So, it may come as no surprise when you find your furry companion has taken quite a liking to the legs, or cushions of your favorite piece of furniture. When considering how to stop a dog from chewing furniture, first and foremost, keep in mind that your dog doesn’t understand that his chewing is wrong until you teach him. Your dog wants (and needs!) to chew, but the key is to get him to understand what he is allowed to chew vs. what is off limits.
So, let’s get started on fixing the problem……
How to Stop a Dog From Chewing Furniture
- Make sure your dog has plenty of chew toys. But, not only that, you need to watch closely and determine which chew toys your dog actually likes. Once you have figured this out, make sure your dog has access to his very favorite types of chew toys. This is important because if he prefers your furniture over the type of chew toys you provide, I bet you can already guess which one he is going to go for. Use the chew toy to engage your dog in play which will convey the message that it is HIS toy, and chewing it is a GOOD behavior.
- Teach your dog that chewing the furniture is off limits. If you catch your dog in the act, clap loudly and give a stern, “No!” Immediately offer his chew toy as a replacement, and praise him when he takes it. If he is not interested, a moment or two of play time with you will probably change his mind.
- Temporarily remove items that you don’t want your dog to chew. I know this may be easier said than done, after all it’s not exactly feasible to remove your couch from your living room. However, if it is a small end table or chair that your dog is chewing, consider temporarily moving it to a place that your dog doesn’t have access to. Once your dog learns his manners you can reintroduce it to the room and your dog probably won’t bother with it again.
- Apply a taste deterrent to the area your dog chews. Deterrents can be purchased online or at any pet store and if you find the right one, your dog will hate the taste and, therefore, have no desire to chew. Unfortunately, there are cases where some dogs don’t mind the taste, and actually seem to like it, but oftentimes these do work and can be a lifesaver. It’s worth a try and they aren’t too costly, usually between $10.00 – $20.00 for a bottle.
- A bored dog will find mischief! Be sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise, attention, and mental stimulation. I can’t stress enough how much this will change the behavior of your dog! A tired out dog doesn’t need to find things to do (e.g. chew up things he’s not suppose to), he’s already done them, and then he will just be ready to rest. Not giving a dog enough exercise is one of the biggest mistakes dog owners make when claiming they have a “bad” dog. If you’re having a tough time with this because you have an overly energetic dog that you just can’t seem to tire out, I would suggest either bike riding with your dog, which can tire a dog out quickly with not much effort on your part (this is not for small puppies), or let him run off-leash somewhere like a dog park.
Dogs Who Chew Only When You Leave The House
A dog that doesn’t inappropriately chew when you are home, but becomes a destructive chewer the moment you leave the house is most likely plagued with separation anxiety. Some dogs feel so attached to their human owners that when they get left alone they become stressed and anxious. Chewing is calming and relaxing for a dog and gives him something to do while their owner is away. This behavior should never be viewed as something a dog is doing out of spite, or to get back at their owner for leaving them alone. This behavior shows that the dog is surely suffering, has difficulties coping, and needs some intervention to work through his issues. If you suspect your dog has separation anxiety it is best to discuss it with your vet, a behaviorist, or a dog trainer who is skilled to help in this area.
Do Some Breeds Chew More Than Other Breeds?
Yes, some breeds are more prone to chewing than other breeds, so if you are wondering why your dog is chewing everything in sight, while your friend’s and family’s dogs seem to be just fine, this could be one of the reasons. Some of the breeds that are known chewers include Jack Russell Terriers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, and more. But, this is not to give certain breeds a bad rap because all dogs like to chew (some more than others), but destructive chewing certainly is not a behavior that can’t be redirected to a more appropriate behavior, and therefore, solved.
Reasons Dogs Like to Chew
Chewing is a natural behavior for a dog and gives them a means of exploring an object, not to mention that chewing is just doggone fun! When we’re bored we might flip on the TV; when a dog is bored they might chew a toy. It keeps them busy, eases anxiety or stress, and is a great way to expend any pent up energy. In addition, puppies use chewing as a way to relieve discomfort while teething.
Want to keep your dog occupied, and out of mischief for awhile? Give him a brand new chew toy, or try a Kong toy stuffed with some awesome treats. My dog will chew on a Kong toy for up to 20 minutes. It’s a fantastic trick to keep your dog fully engaged when you need some space and can’t be bothered.
Things You Should Never Give a Dog to Chew
- Stuffed animals with sewn on eyes or buttons – Eyes and buttons will quickly get chewed off and swallowed making them dangerous. This, unfortunately, eliminates most stuffed animals laying around your house that you might be tempted to give your dog.
- Stuffed dog toys with a squeaker in the middle – These are okay for the dog that won’t chew them apart and swallow the squeaker, but worth mentioning that your dog should be supervised until you know what he is capable of. (Beware of the extreme chewers that may even eat the fabric or stuffing of stuffed toys; I cannot give stuffed toys to my dog at all.)
- Bones – Never give your dog a bone from the meat you cooked for dinner. Chicken bones, beef bones, pork bones, etc. are extremely dangerous for dogs as they can chip and break into smaller pieces and get lodged in your dog’s throat, or cause internal damage after sharp edges are swallowed. They can also chip, or crack your dog’s teeth which can lead to root infections or abscesses that require tooth extraction. Although some people believe raw bones to be safe, others believe they are not, and in my opinion it’s not worth the risk. In addition, you have to really know your bones, as even among people who believe raw bones are okay, they also know that certain raw bones are absolutely NOT okay. Such is the case with raw pork bones which are more likely to be contaminated from the meat and cause trichinosis (disease spread through raw or undercooked meat). To be on the safe side, there are plenty of commercially sold alternatives to bones, that are safe, and fully digestible, such as an edible dental bone.
My dog is a recovered, extreme chewer, and we have a drawer full of chewed up remote controls and cell phones to prove it. So, in conclusion, I would just like to mention, that if my dog can recover from his chewing days, then your dog can too! Inside every naughty dog is a good dog just waiting to be revealed. The important thing is to be consistent with your training, let your dog know what is his to chew and what is not, and stick with it. And, remember, as dogs get older they also get easier, and better behaved (as long as you work with them). Should you have any questions or comments about your dog, I would love to hear them!