If your dog is chewing objects in your home, and you’d prefer they don’t (e.g., shoes, hats, or furniture), then understanding why they do this is the first step. The first thing you need to know about dogs is that their mouths are used the same way we use our hands. Essentially, Dogs will explore the world using their mouth. If something spikes their interest, they’ll pick it up in their mouth and feel it by chewing.

General mouthing objects is not a great concern, but it can be a problem when excessively chewing and destroying things. Many people who’ve owned a dog have come home to find a stuffed toy (or worse) strewn all over the place. Stuffed toys may not be an issue, but if your dog takes a shine to your new hiking boots, it can be extremely annoying and expensive!

While destructive chewing is frustrating and annoying, you should never verbally or physically punish your dog (even if they are caught in the act). It’s best to understand why your dog is chewing excessively and modify your home and how you interact with your dog to correct their behaviour.

The main reasons why dogs chew

Dogs that chew do so for various reasons, but separation anxiety and boredom are the two main issues. When you’re looking to stop chewing, you should try to identify and fix the underlying problem.

Boredom

When left alone, dogs can get bored very quickly. Digging, barking (at nothing), tail chasing, and chewing are the main choices for a bored dog. To correct behaviours caused by boredom, you can tire your dog out with a long walk before you leave or provide them with stimulating toys.

A stash of 15-20 toys is an excellent method for entertaining your dog. Keep most of the toys in a sealed tub and give your dog 3-4 to use during the day. Each day you can put away yesterday’s toys and hand out fresh ones. Your dog will think these recycled toys are new (even if you’ve had them for over six months).

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety can be challenging to overcome, but with patience, you can train your dog to relax when you’re not home. Tail chasing, fretting, whining, whimpering, and barking are all signs of separation anxiety.

When correcting separation anxiety, you can use some methods to correct boredom. However, you should also teach your dog that it is nothing to stress about when you leave for a few minutes. Start by not making a fuss when you’re leaving. If your dog reacts to you picking up your keys, move them to a different spot in the house.

When you begin training, leave like you usually would and step outside for a few minutes. Then when you come back inside, you can make a fuss over your dog and reward them. Eventually, you can extend the time you’re gone, and your dog will learn to associate you returning home with a positive experience.

How to stop dogs from chewing everything

Giving your dog many items (toys, etc.) they’re allowed to chew will help stop some bad chewing habits. But it may not stop all of it. Remove all the other items they like chewing and keep them out of reach.

You can also play games with your dog using their toys. Dogs are highly driven by food, and you can provide treats as a reward to your dog while they’re playing with their toys.

As always, have patience with your dog and allow them time to adjust their behaviour. And always remember that a dog toy destroyed is a dog toy enjoyed!