Is your dog chewing up your stuff? Help is on the way! Chewing is normal dog behavior. Most people don’t mind it if their dog chews on his toys, but don’t want him to chew up their socks, underwear, or furniture. If your dog is chewing on inappropriate objects, the first thing you need to do is to ask yourself whether you’re providing appropriate alternatives.
Make sure to provide plenty of appropriate chew toys that your dog enjoys. Kongs, Nylabones, knuckle bones, and hollow sterilized beef bones are all acceptable choices. Hollow toys that can be stuffed with your dog’s food, peanut butter, or other treats, are especially enticing.
You should have one chew toy available in each room of the house where your dog is allowed. If your dog feels the urge to chew, he should be able to look around and immediately spot an appropriate chew toy. If he can’t find a toy, he’s much more likely to settle for one of your shoes! Don’t expect your dog to go all the way across the house to his toy basket: the toy should be right in front of him as soon as he needs it.
Next, make sure that you are rewarding your dog for chewing on his own toys. If you get all excited and chase him down as soon as he grabs one of your socks, then ignore him when he chews on his own toys, guess which option he’s going to choose next time he’s bored? Make sure that you make more of a fuss over him for playing with his own toys than you do when he gets into stuff he shouldn’t. Keep anything you don’t want him to chew on put away, or spray it with Bitter Apple spray to make it taste bad.
If your dog does get ahold of something he’s not supposed to have, don’t make a big deal over it. Chasing him all over will make him think it’s a big game, and punishing him may cause guarding or aggression issues later on. Trade him a small piece of kibble or one of his own toys for the stolen item, then resolve to do a better job keeping things picked up or be more diligent about using Bitter Apple spray in the future.
Most dogs take to chew toy training quite quickly, as long as you’re consistent and provide plenty of acceptable alternatives. If your dog continues to steal things or if you have any problems with possessiveness or aggression when your dog gets into something that he shouldn’t have, don’t hesitate to contact a certified professional dog trainer.
Modified from content by Sara Reusche, as previously published on https://paws4udogs.wordpress.com. Sara is a professional dog trainer at Paws Abilities Dog Training in Rochester, MN. To learn more about dog training, check out their website here: www.paws4u.com.