During dog training classes, a problem with puppies chewing on items often is not apparent, because in that structured environment, there is nothing that can be readily destroyed. Most items within the puppy’s reach will be toys specifically designed for the purpose.
Why Dogs Chew
It’s important to stop a puppy from chewing on items early on, because this habit can stay with a dog throughout adulthood if left untreated. It’s not only a problem resolved for puppies, either. Older dogs may have chewing problems due to anxiety or boredom.
It’s important to begin training by recognising why dogs chew on things. There are many reasons behind this instinctual reaction. Chewing cleans a dog’s teeth, removing tartar and plaque and cleaning gums. Dogs also chew because it gives them a sense of security, much like a baby that sucks its thumb.
Training a Dog Not to Chew on Items
Let dogs have a space in the home where chewing is permitted. This can be within their usual kennel or play area, or in a safe room in the house. Begin training by keeping all chewable items in one area. Let your dog associate this place, and these items with chewing tendencies.
It is important not to punish dogs with spanking or hitting when they chew on the wrong items. Instead, if a dog chews on the wrong item, remove it immediately, and replace it with the correct item. It’s all right to verbally correct a dog if he is chewing something he shouldn’t. A firm tone of voice will be plenty to convey the message. It’s also acceptable to spray items like shoes with a bitter spray that will discourage dog chewing.
Bitter apple is a popular deterrent to dog chewing. It is available in most pet stores. By spraying bitter apple on items a dog is likely to chew on, you will coat the item with a completely non-toxic scent and flavor that a dog will not enjoy.
When a dog chews the right item of his own accord, praise him. Let positive reinforcement encourage a dog to choose the right items to chew on. Always make sure that chewable items are kept in their proper place by cleaning them up periodically throughout the day. It’s also acceptable to buy dog toys with cavities in them for dog treats, and fillers like cheese spread, or peanut butter. These toys will keep a dog occupied for a long time, and the dog will love the taste.
These are the most effective ways to make sure that a dog chews appropriate items. Remember, the goal is not to prevent a dog from chewing altogether, but for him to understand what items are all right to gnaw on, and which aren’t.