What is meant by the term 'destructive chewing'? Chewing itself is not destructive if the dog is not chewing on everything he comes across.
Chewing begins at a young age when the puppy starts teething. If the chewing habit isn’t stopped then and there, it grows and turns out to be a lifetime habit. The dog owners sometimes promote destructive chewing.
It’s tough to return to a home of destroyed shoes, cushions, blinds, etc. You can adequately channelize the destructive chewing once you understand the cause of it.
Puppy chewing continues into adulthood due to various reasons such as ‘just for fun,’ to overcome boredom, to reduce the pent-up energy that's causing anxiety, etc.
Here are some easy steps to channelize the chewing behavior of dogs:
1. Dog-proof Your House
As with puppies, adult dogs need supervision or else they will chew on everything in the house. Dog-proofing the house can only control the curious canines whenever you are leaving home. Moreover, dog’s exercise or playpens are a great way to keep the dogs away from your stuff. Provide chew toys and bone within the play area to let the dog understand the boundaries of what he can chew or not. This little step can save your stuff from getting chewed on or destroyed.
2. Replace with Chew Toys
If the dog begins chewing on your shoes in your presence, you can redirect his behavior by providing the chew toy to nibble on. Some dogs start chewing during a specific part of the day, so recognize the schedule and redirect the destructive behavior consistently.
If your dog avoids brushing teeth and enjoys chewing, then you can give him some of the best dental dog chews that your pooch will love to chew every day.
3. Positive Reinforcement
Old methods of punishment are replaced by positive reinforcement technique to promote a behavior rather than hinder a behavior.
When the dog chews the chew toys or bones, reward him or praise him to reinforce the appropriate behavior. Positive rewards will encourage the dog to repeat the behavior and earn the appreciation.
4. Use Repellent and Sprays
You can use bad-tasting sprays to keep puppies and adult dogs from chewing on your stuff. Bitter Apple sprays and boundary dog repellants will keep the dogs from nibbling on your shoes once they find them distasteful. It is somewhat counter-conditioning, that is, unpleasant reward means no repetition of behavior. If the dog finds the shoes distasteful, he will never return for it.
5. Daily Exercise or Play
Exercise and play are essential routine habits that can keep your dog from destructive chewing or other inappropriate behaviors. Exercise causes the release of endorphins that have a calming effect.
Hyperactive dogs require lots of exercises and play to exhaust their energies and get the feel of endorphins-the happy hormones. Most of the dogs start their chewing habit after you stop giving them proper time. As a result, their pent-up energy is invested in destroying your stuff to get a feel of endorphins'.
6. Identify Other Root Causes
If nothing has worked so far, then, the dog might be suffering from separation anxiety. Find out the cause of tearing and chewing up of things in your absence. If it’s separation anxiety, you can consult the veterinarian.
The Final Words
Being aggressive with the dog for inappropriate behavior during your absence is of no use. Traditional trainers used punishments like hitting the dog or closing up its mouth using duct tape, etc. But, a better way to curb the behavior is to crate him or put him in the play/exercise pen to exhaust his energies. Moreover, take him out for a walk or play on a daily basis.
James is a part-time dog-trainer and dog behavior consultant with years of experience in dog training and the man behind LabradorTrainingHQ.com. He is interested in finding out fun ways to handle dog behaviors, specifically, Labradors to help dog-owners enjoy their companions at all times.