We’ve all been there. You turn your back for a moment or you leave your dog unsupervised, and you’ve lost a precious item because it's been chewed to bits. There are many ways to prevent dogs from chewing furniture, dog crates, beds and other belongings, but many owners are confused because they do not know which dog training tips will work for pets. Let's analyze this.
First of all, when it comes to your dog's incessant chewing, the problem can be a lot more serious than losing your stuff to your dog's destructive behavior. You might have to take your dog to the vet because he's eaten something he shouldn't have, he's broken a tooth, or hurt himself. Every dog chews to some degree, and it’s actually beneficial during certain life stages, but there are things you can do to manage your Fido's chewing.
The first line of defense against destructive chewing is pet-proofing your home.
After that, you must have realistic expectations when it comes to dog ownership. You’ll never stop your dog from wanting to chew and put things in his mouth. It’s one of those things dogs evolved to do, according to Cornell veterinarians, so we have to accept it.
However, while we cannot stop dogs from chewing per se, we can choose what our dogs chew by training them and giving them lots of acceptable alternatives to munch on instead. That’s the best way to prevent dogs from chewing your shoes and furniture, but I'll give you a few more tips below that I've learned that may work in addition to this.
15 Ways To Prevent Dogs From Chewing Furniture and Your Belongings at Home
1Make sure Fido is getting enough to eat
A hungry dog will chew whatever he can because he's looking for new sources of nutrition, or it just makes him feel better. Check to make sure your dog is getting enough calories in his diet for his size, breed and activity level. Malnutrition, a calorie-restricted diet or inefficient supply of nutrients in dog food can cause chewing for other reasons, too.
“A dog on a calorie-restricted diet might chew and destroy objects in an attempt to find additional sources of nutrition. Dogs usually direct this kind of chewing toward objects related to food or that smell like food.” – ASPCA
2Understand teething in puppies
The process of getting adult teeth in dogs takes at least 6 months. It starts when puppies are between 4-6 months old. That’s not the end of it, though. It can take as long as 18 months for the new teeth to set. That can be a very irritating experience for some dogs, and chewing is a natural way for them to deal with that. Good quality and long-lasting puppy toys for teething will help a lot here.
3Early separation can encourage biting, chewing, and sucking behavior
Your puppy’s mother is not just his guardian and protector but also his trainer and example of what to do in the new world. As the nature has intended, all dogs should learn about biting manners from their mothers and their litter mates, brothers and sisters.
If a puppy has been separated from his canine family much too early, then biting, chewing and sucking are more likely to be a problem that can last for the rest of the pup's life. Dogs might also chew more because of separation anxiety when you leave the house.
4Give your dogs the attention they need
Your puppy's biting and chewing is sometimes focused on a particular person in the family because the dog wants their attention, even if their reaction is negative. The best way to prevent dogs from biting and chewing is to play mouth and chew related games, and keep puppy chew toys ready on offer.
Boredom is another huge factor and if your puppy is bored, then it will only make the problem worse, so make sure your dog gets enough activity to stay out of trouble. Keep your dog exercise and stimulate him mentally to keep him tired and less likely to bite.
5Understand how important mouthing is to dogs
Like human babies, puppies explore the world with their mouths by biting, licking, chewing and tasting. Even as adults, the mouth plays a much more important sensory role for dogs than for humans. It's how dogs experience and understand the surroundings.
It takes training to teach puppies and dogs how to limit the use of their mouths to what’s acceptable to their owners, but you need to see mouth use as natural and fundamental to dog behavior. Enrich your dog’s environment with lots of items he can put in his mouth.
Chewing, biting and mouthing in puppies is often related, so I recommend you watch the above video and read the full linked guide on how to stop and prevent this behavior.
6Offer better chewing choices
Try to catch your dog before he really starts chewing on something inappropriate. With a bit of regular observation, you’ll know the signs of when your dog is looking for something to chew on and destroy.
Keep better doggy chewing items handy, and make a quick and calm trade once the behavior starts. You don’t want to discourage your dog from what’s perfectly natural – let him chew – just redirect the dog and give better and safer options.
7Beware of bones
Unlike specifically designed dog bones for chewing, regular cooked bones are not a safe option. It's mostly because they are softened by the cooking process and can shatter, which can cause a broken tooth or jaw injury in your pup.
Pieces from cooked bones can also get caught in the dog's windpipe, esophagus, stomach or intestines and cause serious injury. Raw bones like chicken and turkey wings or necks might be edible, but dogs can easily spread meat bacteria throughout the house and even onto their human owners, according to FDA and scientific research.
If you do feed your dog edible bones, make sure they’re only for inside his dog crate or other easily cleanable areas. Alternatively, you can buy irradiated bones. Big bones and antlers shouldn't be offered without supervision either, because they can break teeth too. The richness of bone marrow can also cause diarrhea for some dogs, so be careful.
READ THIS: Cooked Bones for Dogs – Safe or Not?
8Try different and safe dog chew toys and foods
There are tons of options available today to purchase as safe and long-lasting toys for dogs to chew on. However, some are not the best options and may be unsafe, so it's important that you know what you're buying and getting the most appropriate dog toys.
For example, some of the safe and effective chew toys for dogs include:
- Stuffed KONG toys, which are some of the best on the market
- Dental dog chews
- Bully sticks & bones (larger than the size of your dog’s head)
- Tendon chews of the correct size
- Organic pig ears (non-organic ears are common hormone injection sites)
- Frozen treats or ropes
- Himalayan chews, made from hard yak milk cheese
- Durable chew toys that can’t be torn to pieces
In some cases, dog toys made in China may not be the best option since if you're buying something that you expect to be destroyed, there's a chance your dog will swallow it. If that's the case, some dog toys are much more likely to break and increase the chance of your dog swallowing some toxic materials. USA made dog toys are usually safer.
9Watch what you communicate to your dog
If you get angry or display too much emotion, you might accidentally create a regular chewing target or make a game out of the biting behavior. When your dog nips at your mittens or pant legs, and you shout or act hurt, it might work temporarily, but most dogs know you’re not really hurt.
That looks like play to a dog, and can get your pet even more excited to continue the practice. Likewise, if you give Fido an old shoe to chew on, he’ll learn chewing on shoes is okay with you. The worst thing you can do when trying to prevent dogs from chewing is to chase him around. That’s always a fun game for your pet.
Owners must avoid encouraging dogs – whether consciously or not – to get excited about chewing. There are several ways to prevent this practice mentioned in the below video.
FULL GUIDE: How To Train A Dog To Stop Chewing
10Timing is everything when it comes to discipline
Dogs live in the now. You have to catch your dog in the act if you’re going to teach him anything. Scolding him afterwards isn’t going to work, no matter how guilty he looks. That's just submissive behavior. It’s not connected to what your dog did in the past, even if it was just a few minutes ago.
11Use effective training techniques
There is no substitute for dog training when it comes to your canine's behavior. The best way to teach them anything is to use positive reinforcement and reward them for good behavior. Don’t push your dog, and don't use muzzles or hold your dog’s mouth shut.
Spanking and hitting can encourage aggressive behavior in your pet, too. It’s better to supervise the dog until you’re confident he won’t destroy things and stops chewing on your furniture, and praise him or give him dog treats for chewing appropriate items.
Here's a video guide on how to train your dog basic commands. Use this to learn the very foundation of dog training, and then apply that same practice to stop him from chewing.
12Limit where your dog can go
Use the dog’s crate or pet gates to temporarily limit your Fido's movement, especially if he's unsupervised. Dogs will also chew when they want to escape, so keep that in mind. Don’t leave your dog confined too long though, or it will lead to other behavior problems.
Using things like dog crates and pet gates is only a temporary solution, and is best used alongside training your dog from mouthing, chewing and biting using the above tips. Nevertheless, baby playpens for dogs or your standard pet gates will come very handy to contain your pet and prevent him from doing unwanted things.
13Keep important items out of reach
Teach your dog to accept that certain areas of the house are never accessible, like closets, and keep your belongings away from him. If you’re the one that left something out to tempt your pooch when he wasn't supervised, you’re the one to blame. Spilled food and drinks will also make furniture more attractive for chewing, so keep things clean.
14Teach the drop it command
Regular and daily training is the best way to teach your dog to obey. Use the “drop it” command (as shown in the above linked video on basic commands) frequently to give him lots of practice. You can easily combine it with a game of fetch, which can benefit you and your dog on many different levels: train him, exercise him and stimulate him mentally.
FULL GUIDE: How To Train A Dog To Fetch
15Try making things taste bad
Bitter or spicy taste deterrents can be applied to furniture and other belongings to prevent dogs from chewing. They're available in sprays and gels that need to put on every day. Some odd dogs though, seem to find the taste of some deterrents interesting, so you may need to try another one if it doesn't get a strong enough negative reaction.