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Chewing


Chewing is one of the most expensive problem behaviours especially when the dog is chewing cell phones, leather couches and vehicle interiors.


Reasons for Chewing


  1. Boredom - Provide mental and physical outlets.
  2. Teething - Provide teething toys.
  3. Escaping - (chewing through walls and doors) - Provide mental and physical outlets, often a result of Separation Anxiety.
  4. Separation Anxiety - See article on Separation Anxiety.


A Good Side to Chewing


There is one good side to a dog that chews and that is a moderate chewer tends to have better teeth later on in life. A dog that doesn’t chew often gets bad teeth and needs dental work. Conversely a real aggressive chewer can break and damage their teeth, so a happy medium is best.


Methods You May Have Heard


Have a bunch of dog toys out, exercise them lots, bitter apple spray, smack the dog for chewing the wrong item, tape the item in their mouth.


Chewing is a Natural Habit


Having an alternative for chewing really helps out. This will be special chew toys, bones, or raw hides (They recommend staying away from bleached bones and raw hides)


Throw a Bunch of Toys out and Hope for the Best?


This is the most common tactic and it involves having a pile of dog toys out or in a toy box and hoping the dog will just chew on those toys. That does work for a lot of dogs but other dogs it can create problems.


Problems Associated


For some dogs if there are a bunch of toys out for them to chew any time they want they can think “If I can chew on all of these, then I should be allowed to chew on that table leg or couch.”


Chewing is More Pronounced in Betas and Alphas


Omegas tend to be very gentle with toys and do not destroy toys. Betas and Alphas often like to destroy toys in a matter of seconds. This is less strictly adhered however still strongly weighted this way. There are a lot of Alphas that never destroy a toy. Betas are often the biggest chewers.


Possessions is a Part of Pack Structure


The alpha is in control of all possessions. For Betas and Alphas it can be helpful to control all of the possessions and make them work for those possessions.


In this case have the toys picked up and out of the way where the dog cannot get to them whenever they want. You can bring those toys out as often as you like, 100 times a day if you want. Just make the dog do something for them first. They can then play with the toy and when they are done, pick the toy up and put it away. You can make them do something else for another toy.


Note: When you are gone you can leave toys out for the dog as they will be next in charge. It is just when you are around you will want to take control of them and make the dog work for them.


Side Benefit


By making the dog work for their toys it helps them realize that unless an item has been given to them, they probably can’t have it.


Is it Separation Anxiety?


Separation anxiety will cause a dog to destroy things very quickly when left alone. This can involve chewing through doors, walls, shredding furniture or the inside of a vehicle. Dealing with the underlying cause of Separation Anxiety first is necessary. Once that is dealt with the chewing may go away altogether. If not then the tips in this article will eliminate the rest of the problem.


Redirection


A tired dog is a good dog. The more you have them play appropriate games and exercise them the less likely they will get into chewing things you don’t want. Doing this long enough (a few months) can establish the habit of them not chewing unwanted items.


Crating While Away


If you are not around to supervise the dog it is advisable to put the dog in a crate or a puppy proof room. Whatever the dog practices they get better at. If given the chance to practice all day chewing things they are not supposed to they will get really good at chewing things they are not supposed to.


By putting them in a crate or a puppy proof room the dog is only allowed to chew on designated items. This helps set the right behaviour in place.


Crating is essential for most dogs when it comes to Chewing and Potty Training if the people are not around to watch the dog all the time. Once those two things are trained the crate is often not needed and it is best to train the dog to be good without the use of a crate for their own quality of life.


Consequence


Having a consequence for a dog chewing something they are not supposed to really helps out. One of the best is Grannicks Bitter Apple Spray.


We get a lot of people that tell us their dog liked Bitter Apple Spray. They squirted something with it and the dog chewed it anyway.


Some dogs will leave an item alone if it is sprayed with Bitter Apple. Other dogs will need a concentrated taste. Once they get that concentrated taste we have not seen a dog that likes it. Keep in mind you still need to have alternatives for the dog to burn off energy and chew. If you just spray everything with Bitter Apple and provide no alternatives the dog can habituate to the taste and still chew.



Other Methods


  1. Smack the dog for taking something that wasn’t theirs. This has been used for a long time and was one of the main ways to stop a dog from chewing. This method can break the bond between dog and human and cause the dog to be fearful of their human.

  2. Tape the item in their mouth - One guy told me his dog always stole his slippers and chewed them. He said he took a chewed up slipper and taped it in the dog’s mouth for 20 minutes. He said “If you like it so much, you got it.” He said the dog never chewed on his slippers ever again.

  3. Grab to the scruff - When the dog takes an item they are not supposed to, a quick grab to the scruff as if to correct the dog the way another dog might has also worked for lots of dogs.


Summary


Chewing is natural and to be expected. Provide an outlet with proper chewing toys and bones.


Whatever the dog practices they get better at according to Core Rule: Training Every Second. For this reason you want to ensure the dog is learning to chew their chew toys and not items that are of value to you. While you are away using a crate or puppy proof room is advisable until the dog is trained properly and the habit is set in place.