Destructive Chewing In Canines-How to Prevent Bad Behavior
What is destructive chewing in canines? If the dog chews on his favorite toys but does not damage the carpets, sofas, mats, or bed sheets, then it’s not destructive chewing. Destructive chewing in dogs is an addictive stage of natural behavior. It first develops during the teething phase of a puppy.
Did you ever reflect on why a dog adopts or continues to repeat a particular behavior? Studies show it is because of anxiety or boredom in 70% of the cases. Digging, destructive chewing and barking are some of the behaviors that continue for long periods if the puppy is overlooked and ignored. Pets are the eternal attention seekers. So…ignoring them will cause them to indulge in unwanted behavisor.
The aim of training should be to shift the attention of your puppy or adult dog from chewing on inappropriate things to chewing on his chew toys. (Also read: Parrot Mouth In Dogs)
1. Prevent destructive chewing in canines
Supervise, engage and dog proof the house. Most of all, prevent the dog from excessive chewing. Most new dog-parents let the dog explore the house during initial days without supervision, and then the upcoming days are a complete disaster.
Training should start from day one. The limits are set from the beginning. After all, no one likes to return to a home that’s been hit by a colony of vengeful mice! Take the dog for long walks and leave them at home with a task to prevent them from getting anxious or bored. (Also read: Small Dog Syndrome)
2. Stimulate the Dog’s Mind
Stimulating the dog’s mind is equal to providing him with puzzle treat toys. Intelligent dog breeds require mental stimulation along with physical energy investment to maintain the balance of personality.
You can always leave a hidden treat for the dog to find out once you leave home. But, for that, you have to dog-proof the area. Bring him few interesting puzzles and treat dispensing toys to stay engaged in your absence. It will prevent him from getting bored.
It’s said that dogs never move on to the next task unless they are all done with the first one. My Leo is quite persistent, I simply provide him a treat dispensing puzzle, and he stays busy for hours. Sometimes, it’s fun to watch him figure out a way!
3. Supervise and Distract
Supervise the dog’s chewing when you are at home. If you catch him chewing on your favorite shoes, stay patient and give him a chew toy to bite on. Praise him for chewing on the right thing.
4. Exercise/ Play Pen
Exercise or playpens can help the hyperactive dog breeds to exhaust their pent-up energies all day long. Endorphins, released during play or exercise, give a pleasing and calming feel to the dog.
Usually, dogs get the feel of endorphins via tearing apart everything around. So, to engage them within a dog-proof area, play/exercise pens are a great idea. Moreover, you can enjoy constructing one for your dog by looking out for amazing DIY ideas.
Besides these, take him to long walks or play on a regular basis.
5. Dog-Proof the Area
New dog parents are often asked to dog proof the house first to avoid accidents, in order to stop destructive chewing in canines. But, a destructive chewer may find interest in your cushion, carpets, and bed covers too. However, if you have built an indoor playpen for your tiny dog, just leave behind some chew toys, bones, and treat dispensing puzzles to keep him engaged. You wouldn’t have to worry anymore about unforeseen incidents from then onwards.
6. Positive Reinforcement
Here comes the primary step to reinforce Fido’s good behavior. You can do that by rewarding him for chewing on the right stuff. Dogs act by evaluating the consequences of the action. If their action is rewarded, they will repeat the behavior to get your attention and small reward.
Rewards, however, do not have to be treats or toys; but can be a pat on the back, a cuddle, or a positive remark. You can also reward the Fido by taking him for a walk or play while the dog is still chewing on the chew toys.
Persist in rewarding the desired behavior. Reward immediately when the pooch is involved in a specific action.
7. Trial and Error
When the chewing habit has finally shifted to chew toys and bones, then let the dog move around with freedom when he’s home alone. It’s necessary to make sure that your Fido has achieved perfection. The recovery/distraction period depends upon the severity of the problem.
Moreover, considering a dog’s maturity level, a puppy shouldn’t be left alone unsupervised unless he is a year old.
The trial and error can be done by 10 to 20 minutes of unsupervised periods. If you think you can trust your Fido from then onwards, let him explore the world alone, and there will be no more mice attacks!
8. Repellents and Sprays
If the Fido hasn’t learned his lesson, you can use bitter apple sprays and dog boundary repellents on the things he loves to chew, and you hate to see destroyed. Unpleasant tastes will repel the dog from repeating the unwanted behavior.
Identify the reason for the destructive chewing in canines. Sometimes the dog repeats the behavior due to separation anxiety. You may have to consult the veterinary or dog behaviorist to cure the problem.
Fiona Appleton is a Labrador owner. She is the manager of ultimatehomelife.com that developed to solve the troubles of pet ownership. Ms. Appleton is an active advocate of animal protection campaigns. Her mission is to help people better understand that dog-behavior is reflective of our own behavior. This includes destructive chewing in canines.
WayCoolDog posts originally appeared on WayCoolDogs and are re-posted with the permission of Nancy Houser of WayCoolDogs © 2009 – 2018 WayCoolDogs.com..