NOT MY SHOES! Why Dogs Chew And How To Change Behavior

Puppies and dogs chew, it’s a fact. When my family got our first puppy she did a number on our house. Nothing was spared, not shoes, clothes, or my dad’s high school yearbook (which she tore to pieces, yet somehow managed to miss the one section that had a photo of my dad’s high school girlfriend. I digress).

Dog Chewing

Why Do Dogs Chew?

The ASPCA explains that puppies chew to relieve teething pain, and older dogs chew to maintain teeth and jaw health. Dog trainer Nan Arthur writes in the article, “Dog is chewing everything… Ask a Trainer” that dogs also chew to relieve stress and to satisfy underlying drives. It is something ingrained in canines, and getting them to redirect chewing to acceptable objects such as toys and bones is an important step in owning a dog.

They also chew out of boredom and to get attention, according to The Humane Society of the United States. This same source states that puppies teethe for about six months, and this creates pain, which causes the pup to chew to relieve their discomfort.

For some dogs, chewing is due to separation anxiety. Arthur writes, “When dogs choose things [to chew on] with a heavy human scent, they might be looking for comfort due to anxiety or stress. This type of chewing often takes place when people are gone.”

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Chewing On My Things?

Toys:

According to the ASPCA, the first step in combatting canine chewing is to make sure that it does not have anything to do with problems like hunger or separation anxiety (more on that later). Once those have been ruled out, it is important to understand that chewing is normal for puppies, especially when they are teething, and a normal way for dogs to occupy themselves mentally and physically, according to Arthur.

Make sure that your puppy or dog has plenty of toys. Flavored ones are a good option, such as these bacon flavored chew toys, especially when you are trying to encourage your dog to take his chewing to items that are not your shoes and furniture. The Humane Society of the United States also suggests having toys be easily distinguishable from household items, so as not to confuse your dog.

dog chewing

Arthur suggests providing items of a similar texture to the ones that your dog likes to chew on. So if your dog tends to chew on hard furniture, give her a hard bone instead. It is important to provide your dog with positive outlets for chewing.

Access:

Simply put, if your dog is unable to get to things that you do not want it to gnaw on, it will not gnaw on those things. This can be achieved by only allowing your dog in certain areas of your home, putting baby gates up, and confining your dog to a crate or an outdoor run when you are away from your home.

dog chewing
Exercise: Physical and Mental

Most of us know that it is important for dogs to get physical exercise for their health, or in this case so that they don’t use all of their energy on destroying your home. Physical exercise is an important aspect of a dog’s wellbeing, but so is mental exercise.

As a form of mental exercise, Arthur suggests training your dog, or playing a game like hide and seek. To do the latter, take a toy or treat and show it to your dog, then make your dog wait in a room while you hide the item elsewhere in the house. Your dog will be mentally engaged while he searches for the toy, and when you praise him for finding the object, this will also put the emphasis on toys being something that are good for him to have.

Dealing With Separation Anxiety Chewing

The best way to deal with a dog chewing your stuff while you are away is to deal with its likely cause, separation anxiety. The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) says that dogs do not chew your things while you are gone to punish you for leaving, but as a stress reaction to being left alone. This is why it is important to not punish chewing that is a result of separation anxiety, because this will only make the dog more anxious.

The MSPCA recommends building up your dog’s confidence when it comes to being alone, by discouraging him following you from room to room when you are home; if he can get comfortable being alone when you are in the house, it will be easier for him when you are away.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind puppy raiser Kali Campbell suggests crating your dog when you are away, and making the crate a place where the dog feels safe. You can do this by putting in blankets (just not ones that your dog can chew up) and toys. Campbell says that filling a Kong toy with peanut butter and freezing it for when you leave is a good option, as it will provide the dog with a long distraction.

dog chewing

And What If My Puppy STILL Eats My Shoes?

No matter how many awesome toys you give a puppy, he will still always go after the occasional stray shoe or pair of socks. Discourage this chewing behavior by spraying items with a no chew spray . The unpleasant flavor will deter your dog from chewing on his favorite items of yours.

At The End Of The Day…

It’s fairly likely that some item of yours will fall victim to canine chewing, especially when you have a puppy. Just think of it as part of the wonderful right of passage in caring for your new furry friend! Working with your dog to end his chewing will be frustrating at times, but know that he wants to make you happy and do the right thing, and with patience and love you will get there.

About the author

Melanie Fox

Hi there, I'm Melanie Fox, editor at Beloved Bark. We look to provide people with the knowledge and tools to make smarter, more educated choices for their dogs. We have made it our mission to inform our followers with expert advice and recommendations, that will make a difference in your dog's life.

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