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 some owners are confused because they don't know which methods are most effective.
Table of Contents
- 1 A Hungry Dog
- 2 Understand Teething in Puppies
- 3 Early Separation May Be the Reason
- 4 Give Your Dogs More Attention
- 5 The Importance of Mouthing
- 6 Observe and Offer Better Chewing Choices
- 7 Beware of Bones
- 8 Try Safe Dog Chew Toys and Foods
- 9 Watch What You Communicate to Your Dog
- 10 Use Effective Training Techniques
- 11 Timing and Discipline
- 12 Limit Where Your Dog Can Go
- 13 Keep Important Items Out of Reach
- 14 Teach the “Drop It” Command
- 15 Make Things Taste Bad
When it comes to your dog's incessant chewing, the problem can be a lot more serious and complicated than just losing your stuff to your pet's destructive behavior. Pet owners find themselves taking their dogs to the vet because they've eaten something they've shouldn't have, broken a tooth, hurt himself or were choking.
Dogs have evolved to chew, researchers say. Every dog chews to some degree, and chewing itself should not be discouraged because it's beneficial for the dog's mental and physical health. You must only redirect your pet's chewing from inappropriate items and onto things he's allowed to chew.
The first line of defense against destructive chewing and or prevent dogs from chewing furniture or belongs is pet-proofing your home. After that, there are a few more ways to prevent dogs from chewing inappropriate items, so here are a few tips you can keep in mind.
15 Ways to Prevent Dogs from Chewing Furniture and Your Belongings at Home
1 A Hungry Dog
A dog that is hungry will have extra incentive to destroy your belongings and furniture. He's more likely to chew whatever he can while looking for new sources of nutrition, or it simply makes him feel better. This behavior is more common in puppies who are not yet properly adjusted to regular feeding regime.
To prevent dogs from chewing, first check they're getting enough calories in the diet for the dog's 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
2 Understand 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 in your puppy. 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. Remember to not discourage chewing in young puppies but rather redirect them to chew on more appropriate things such as toys and special puppy chews.
3 Early Separation May Be the Reason
Your puppy’s mother is not only 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, experts say.
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. While it's too late when you already have a separated puppy at home, it's something to keep in mind for future pet owners looking to adopt a new pooch.
4 Give Your Dogs More Attention
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 chewing and biting is to play mouth and chew related games, and keep puppy chew toys ready on offer. However, remember not to encourage inappropriate chewing during this playtime.
Boredom is another huge factor and one of the main reasons dogs chew on things. Studies show that mentally stimulating your pet can help prevent dogs from chewing as well as fix other negative behaviors. So if your puppy is bored, make sure he gets enough activity to stay out of trouble. Keep your dog exercise levels up, and stimulate him with puzzle toys or games to keep him tired and less likely to chew or bite.
5 The Importance of Mouthing
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.
6 Observe and Offer Better Chewing Choices
Try to catch your dog before he really starts chewing on your furniture, slippers or something else inappropriate. With a bit of regular observation, you’ll know the signs of when your dog is looking for things to chew on and destroy.
Keep better doggy chewing items handy, and make a quick and calm trade once the behavior starts (even before, just before your dog starts to chew on something). You don’t want to discourage your pooch from what’s perfectly natural – let him chew on things – but simply redirect the dog and give better and safer options.
7 Beware of Bones
Unlike specifically designed dog bones for chewing, regular cooked bones are not a safe option and should not be given to dogs. It's mostly because they are softened by the cooking process and can shatter, which will cause a broken tooth, jaw injury or pose a choking hazard for your pup. However, some pet owners unknowingly use bones to prevent dogs from chewing other things.
Studies have shown how pieces of cooked bones can 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.
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.
8 Try Safe Dog Chew Toys and Foods
Redirection is a great way to prevent dogs from chewing furniture or your belongings. Instead of allowing your pet to chew on your slippers, get him something else to sink his teeth into. There are tons of options available today: separation anxiety toys, regular dog chews and best interactive dog toys, puppy teething toys and more.
For example, some of the safe and effective chew toys for dogs include:
- Stuffed KONG toys, currently considered some of the best and most affordable dog toys on the market, particularly their puzzle toys;
- Tendon chews of the correct size;
- Dental dog chews – great for not only redirecting your pet's chewing behavior but also for cleaning his teeth and keeping his gums healthy;
- Frozen treats, ropes or some type of other DIY toys for dogs (see here for more ideas on how to make your own toys for very cheap or almost nothing);
- Hooves – they are tough to chew on and may last a little longer than regular edible treats and dental chews;
- Himalayan chews – most are made from hard yak milk cheese;
- Bully sticks and (some) bones – a very popular among pet owners and loved by most dogs, they are larger than the size of your dog’s jaw and will keep him occupied;
- Organic pig ears or other animal ear chews – they won't last as long as certain chews but most dogs love the taste and texture of these treats;
- Kibble – you can use it as dog treats, and it's going to be lower in calories;
- Most durable chew toys that can’t be torn to pieces easily and quickly (often, separation anxiety toys will be some of the most durable out there).
In some cases, dog toys made in China may not be the best option. When you're buying something that you expect to be destroyed eventually, there's a chance your dog will swallow it or come close to it. You want to prevent that. China made dog toys are much more likely to break and increase the chance of your dog swallowing some toxic materials or pose a choking hazard.
9 Watch What You Communicate to Your Dog
You must always stay consistent with your own commands and behavior if you want to prevent dogs from chewing long-term. If you get angry or display too much (positive for the dog) emotion, you might accidentally create a regular chewing target or make a game out of the biting behavior – same issue as with puppy mouthing. 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.
Usually, this 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. As Samantha has mentioned in her video, owners must avoid encouraging dogs – whether consciously or not – to get excited about chewing in any shape or form.
10 Use Effective Training Techniques
There is no substitute for dog training when it comes to your canine's behavior, and most experts would recommend this as the first approach to prevent dogs from chewing things. The best way to teach them anything is to use positive reinforcement and reward them for good behavior. Don’t punish your dog, and don't use muzzles or hold your dog’s mouth shut, because that's only a temporary solution that doesn't actually correct your dog's behavior.
Studies have shown how spanking and hitting a dog will further encourage bad or even aggressive behavior in your pet. 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.
11 Timing and 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. Therefore, make sure that whatever dog training or behavior correction techniques you're using, that they're always timed correctly.
12 Limit Where Your Dog Can Go
The best way to prevent dogs from chewing is to not allow them acccess to certain areas, and barriers or confinement are one of the most convenient ways to do that. Your can crate your pooch, or use 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, or that may lead to other behavior problems.
Using dog supplies like dog crates and especially pet gates (check the above video to see how to use them effectively) 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, and they have more than one use, too.
13 Keep Important Items Out of Reach
Teach your dog to accept that certain areas of the house are never accessible and out of bounds for him, like closets. Keep all your most important belongings away from the dog. If you’re the one that left something out to tempt your pooch when he wasn't supervised (especially if he really enjoys a taste of slippers), you’re the likely the one to blame for teasing your pet. Spilled food and drinks will also make furniture more attractive for chewing, so keep things clean.
14 Teach the “Drop It” Command
Regular and daily dog training is the best way to teach your Fido to obey. Use the “drop it” command (as shown in this 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 canine on many different levels: train him, exercise him and stimulate him mentally to keep your dog exhausted and tired, not wanting to chew on anything.
15 Make Things Taste Bad
Specially designed deterrents are one of the easiest and most convenient ways for pet owners to discourage dogs from certain behaviors, and prevent dogs from chewing your furniture and belongings. 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, and you can find a number of dog deterrent and repellent spray brands online.
Some odd dogs though seem to find the taste of certain canine deterrents interesting and enticing, so you may need to try another one if the first one doesn't get a strong enough negative reaction from your pooch.