Updated: Feb 18
Eventually every dog owner is going to come home to find their dog has chewed something they shouldn’t have done in their absence. Although dogs have a great sense of smell and vision which they use to explore the world, dogs also really enjoy gaining new information by putting things in their mouths. All dogs have an inbuilt desire to chew. But why the furniture?
Understanding why dogs chew
Puppies, much like infants and toddlers, will explore the world by putting objects in their mouths. Puppies will also teethe for roughly six months, which creates discomfort. This is one of the reasons a puppy will chew, as chewing makes their sore gums feel better, and facilitates teething.
There are many reasons why an adult dog will destructively chew. To deal with this behaviour, you will first need to identify why the dog is chewing. These reasons could include:
Not being taught appropriate and inappropriate objects to chew as a puppy
Remember, dogs never chew out of spite. You may need to consult a dog behaviour professional for help with fear-related behaviours and separation anxiety.
Teaching your dog what can be chewed and what can’t
Fortunately, you can focus your dog's chewing to appropriate items, so he isn’t destroying the carpet, furniture and other valuable items and risking their own safety.
Until your dog has learned what he is and isn’t allowed to chew, it is your responsibility to manage this situation as much as possible, to make sure your dog does not have the opportunity to chew on objects they are not allowed to.
You will need to prevent access to inappropriate items and make sure they have the appropriate objects to chew. These objects could be a stuffed Kong or put some tasty food on the appropriate toys (e.g. peanut butter).
Another way to manage the situation is to increase the exercise the dog is currently doing – a tired dog will sleep more and be less restless and agitated, leading to less chewing. If the dog holds objects for attention, ignore them (don’t chase them), and give the dog a different command.
Top tips for helping dogs not to chew the home
Take responsibility for your belongings
Keep things such as clothing, shoes, books, rubbish, glasses and remote controls out of your dog’s reach. If you don’t want it in your dog’s mouth, don’t make it available to them.
Give your dog toys that are clearly distinguishable from household goods
If you give your dog an old shoe to distract him from chewing your shoes, it will only confuse your dog and he will be unable to distinguish between his shoe and your shoes.
Supervise your dog until he learns the house rules
You may have to keep your dog on a leash indoors to make sure that they cannot make a mistake out of your sight. When you are not able to keep an eye on them, confine them in a safe place that is dog-proof with fresh water and their appropriate toys. If you have your dog crate trained, you can place him in his crate for short periods of times to confine him.
Give your dog plenty of people-time
If you don’t teach your dog alternatives to inappropriate behaviour, they won’t know how to behave. He can’t learn these behaviours by himself and will need to be shown/trained.
Give your dog plenty of physical and mental exercise
Lack of physical and mental exercise will result in boredom and your dog finding other ways to entertain himself. Make sure your dog gets lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation. The amount of exercise they get should be based on the dog’s age, health and breed characteristics.
Clap to get their attention
If you see your dog chewing on something they shouldn’t, interrupt their behaviour with a loud noise. Give them an appropriate chew toy instead, praising them when they take the toy in their mouth.