How to stop a dog from chewing? Dogs love to chew. Chewing dog toys, bones, sticks, and chewy treats is normal behavior for dogs of all ages, whether they are an immature pup or a wizened old family pet.
But for owners, when dogs start to tear up furniture, pillows, chairs, or items they find around the house, chewing starts to become a real problem (and it can be potentially dangerous for your pet too).
Excess or destructive chewing can have several causes, including hunger, teething in puppies, separation anxiety in dogs, or even fear. Owners can learn how to spot normal and abnormal chewing behavior, to better understand when they need to step in and assist their pet's chewing habits or make lifestyle changes.
In this article, we explain why dogs chew and how to stop a dog from chewing on things you don't want them to!
Is dog chewing normal?
Before owners get too worried about their pets chewing on pillows in the living room or spending their entire afternoon casually chewing a stick down in the garden, it's good to recognize that all dogs chew.
In most chewing scenarios, your dog is simply being a dog - all ages of dogs (and all breeds) spend a lot of time chewing, and it's not something that any owner could or should ever aim to stop in its entirety.
- For both puppies and adult dogs, chewing way of investigating the world around them and interacting with new objects they stumble across. Dogs examine objects through taste, texture, and their ability to chew through them!
- For young pups, chewing is an integral part of the puppy teething process. Puppies are going to chew more than adults as their new teeth start to develop, and they'll be prone to chewing (or even biting) on anything in sight. (And how long do puppies' teeth take to develop? Owners can expect the teething process to last for as long as 6 to 8 months).
- As dogs move beyond the teething stage, they continue to chew, and not just out of habit. Chewing helps to strengthen a dog's teeth and jaw, and it can also be a way to release excess energy and alleviate boredom.
However, what's important for the health and well-being of a dog is for owners to recognize when chewing has shifted from being normal to being abnormal or destructive.
When does chewing become abnormal?
In puppies, destructive chewing is often a result of a lack of awareness, understanding, or training. Young puppies are still learning about the world around them, they often don't understand how powerful their bite can be, and they don't yet know what they can or can't chew.
On the other hand, abnormal chewing in older dogs often results in destructive chewing, such as tearing up furniture or ruining clothes that have been left lying around the house.
- Chewing can also become abnormal when it becomes obsessive (for instance, they might continually chew on their dog chew toys all through the day), and it's difficult to separate your dog from the item they are chewing.
- As dogs grow older, if abnormal and destructive chewing continues, many causes can be the reason behind their behavior.
- Some are simple to solve, such as boredom or hunger, but other reasons are more emotional and more complicated.
- If the owner isn't sure what is causing the problem, it's good practice to seek professional help.
Here are the primary reasons why your dog is chewing destructively:
- Your dog hasn't been trained to understand what it can and can't chew.
- Your dog is bored and chews on items to have something to do.
- Your dog is hungry and chews as a way to search for food.
- Your dog isn't getting enough exercise and chews destructively as an outlet for their pent up energy.
- Your dog has separation anxiety and uses chewing as a way to alleviate their anxiety.
- Your dog is experiencing fear or is dealing with past trauma; chewing becomes a coping mechanism.
- Your dog is unhappy and is taking its frustration out by being destructive.
- Your dog has OCD and is obsessively chewing out of habit.
How to stop a dog from chewing everything
If owners are concerned about obsessive chewing or become frustrated by their dog's destructive chewing habits, then there are tried and tested ways to stop dogs from chewing everything.
If abnormal or destructive chewing behavior continues, then owners should ask their vet for guidance.
Below are the best ways to stop your dog from chewing.
Provide an outlet for chewing
- The easiest way to stop your dog from chewing things that it shouldn't be is to make sure there are lots of outlets for their chewing (other than your pillows).
- Dog chews are the simplest answer to a chewing problem: dog toys and lots of chewable doggie treats.
- Often, your dog is hungry in the day if they are chewing, and you can provide them with dog puzzles that release treats to keep them entertained and fed.
Make sure your dog gets enough exercise
Dogs are energetic animals, and they need plenty of exercise throughout the week to stay happy and to get rid of that excess energy.
If your dog is chewing obsessively and starting to wreak havoc, then simply taking your pet for more walks could be the easy fix you need.
Dog-proof the house
When your dog is growing up, a big problem is teaching them how to distinguish between what they can and can't chew.
One way to tackle this is to dog-proof the house (check out our top puppy proofing tips for more details!).
You can cordon off areas of the home where your dog might be tempted to start chewing things, keep doors closed if you want to deny access, or use a bed ramp for dogs to help your dog access areas where you do want them to be.
Encourage appropriate chewing, discourage inappropriate chewing
Owners can provide positive reinforcement when their dog chews appropriately. This means not only providing chew toys but giving praise or accompanying the toys with treats.
At the same time, owners can discourage inappropriate chewing by telling their dog off when they chew items they shouldn't be or removing them from the room entirely to cool off.
Sign up for dog training classes
If problems persist and chew toys just aren't stopping the chewing, then it's a good idea to sign up for training classes.
The earlier you start to train your pet dog, the less likely they are to develop destructive chewing habits.
The last word on how to stop a dog from chewing
While the vast majority of dog chewing incidents are part of a dog's normal intuition and behavioral patterns, owners need to know how to spot abnormal chewing and how to stop dogs from chewing destructively.
The problem is often boredom or a lack of training, problems that an owner can fix with lifestyle changes and a little patience. In more extreme cases, though, obsessive or overly destructive chewing can result from serious underlying problems that could need professional help.
Why not bookmark our guide to dog chewing and learn how to stop your dog from chewing?