If you’ve ever returned home to find that your dog has chewed up the sofa, ruined some shoes and children’s toys, and left a big mess behind, your dog may be an aggressive chewer. Although this can be a very frustrating problem, it is also a behavior that can be corrected. There are two things to remember: Chewing is natural for dogs and should be recognized as a natural behavior. Second, aggressive chewing can be dangerous for your dog’s health.
1. Understand Your Dog’s Natural Inclination to Chew
There could be many reasons why your dog is chewing. When puppies are teething, chewing relieves some of the pain from their swollen gums. Additionally, puppies learn from chewing as they experience new textures and flavors. Boredom is another motivation behind chewing and so is separation anxiety. If anxiety is part of the problem, you’ll probably notice other behaviors, such as a lot of barking and drooling, whining when you leave, soiling inside the house, or refusing to eat. Rather than getting after your dog when he or she is chewing aggressively, understand that chewing is a natural behavior, try to pinpoint the cause, and take positive corrective actions.
2. Remove Items and Keep Them Out of Reach
If you can’t be home all the time to remove items from your dog’s jaw, the best way to prevent chewing while you’re gone is to put everything out of reach. This is especially true for anything with your scent on it. Your dog will be more attracted to items with your scent or his scent, so you may need to put these items behind a door that your dog can’t open.
3. Provide Plenty of Chew Toys
If your chewer is a puppy, make sure she has a lot of appropriate toys to chew. She may carry them around and hide them, so it’s important that you provide several. While dealing with an aggressive chewer (a dog who breaks pieces off toys,) choose toys that will last for a long time. Choose a variety of toys with different textures, flavors, and sizes. It’s important that the toys are the right fit for your dog.
Finally, consider toys that offer multiple sensations for your dog. For example, a Suction Cup Dog Chew Toy provides chewing, pulling, and entertainment. This toy could help your dog burn off some energy while she chews. Sometimes, toys that include food, such as a hollow toy with a treat inside or a dog food puzzle, are more effective because they provide an added element of fun for dogs who chew out of boredom.
4. Consistent Positive Correction
When you are home and you notice your dog chewing something he shouldn’t have, remove the item and set it aside. Immediately replace that item with one of his toys. Offer verbal and physical praise when your dog moves his attention from your slipper to his toy. Remember that dogs want to please their owners, so training is more effective when it’s focused on rewarding positive behaviors.
Your relationship with your dog is one of the best indicators of good or bad canine behavior. When your dog is an aggressive chewer, start by recognizing why your dog is chewing, remove items that she shouldn’t chew, provide plenty of chew toys, and reward good behaviors.