When your puppy or dog is chewing something she’s not supposed to, like shoes, furniture, wood or carpet, I prefer to correct her through redirection or positive reinforcement. The word “punish” has such a negative association to it so I typically don’t use that word.
Dogs chew for three main reasons:
- When a dog hasn’t had the proper exercise, she may resort to chewing in order to get rid of nervous energy.
- Dogs chew because they like to – for them it’s a great way to pass the time, especially if they’re chewing on something they like, such as a bone.
- When a dog has anxiety, is bored or lonely, she resorts to chewing to gain some relief from her negative feelings. Typically, if your dog has separation anxiety and it hasn’t been addressed properly, don’t be surprised if some of your belongings are destroyed.
3-Step Redirection Technique to Stop Your Dog from Chewing
When you see your dog biting or chewing on something she’s not allowed to, disrupt the behavior by making a distinct noise to get her attention.
For example, I shake an old soda can that contains a couple of coins whenever I see Kara, my cockapoo, chewing on an electrical cord (her favorite).
Other noise you can do:
- Clap your hands
Once you interrupt your dog’s chewing, immediately provide her with a chew toy – something she’s allowed to chew.
Note: do not offer your dog an alternative, such as your old slipper or shoe, since your dog cannot decipher between your old slipper to your favorite one.
Make sure you have several chew toys you can alternate through to keep your dog interested. I typically swap out the dog toys every few days.
Once your dog takes the chew toy, praise her. Having a consistent positive attitude is important in training your dog.
Other Important Training Techniques
When you’re training your dog, make sure that you actively supervise her, especially as a puppy when she’s going through a teething phase. She’ll want to nibble on everything so it’s important that you’re alert and aware of what your puppy is doing.
Don’t tempt your dog by having items around that she can chew. Put away food, snacks, dirty dishes, and other things you don’t want your dog to gnaw on.
Chew Toys vs. Old Slippers
As step 2 of the 3-step redirection technique, you should provide your dog an alternate option to get her teeth on, so make sure that there are plenty of toys or chews.
You should switch the toys every three to four days to prevent your canine from getting bored. Also, make sure that the chews are appropriate for the size of your dog’s teeth and mouth.
In addition, as mentioned above, do not offer old clothing or shoe articles.
Plenty of Exercise
Give your dog plenty of exercise – give her lots of opportunity to burn off her energy so that she doesn’t resort to destructive chewing.
What training technique has worked for you? Also, what’s the worst item your dog has chewed? Share in the comments.