Chewing is one of the biggest behavior problems dog owners face. Not only is it destructive, it can also be very dangerous for your dog. Chewing hard plastic can cause internal tearing if swallowed. A chewed electrical cord will lead to death in most cases. A dogs chewing problem needs to be ended as quickly as possible.
In most cases, a dog chews simply because they were not taught not to as a puppy. Puppy behaviors are cute, and often not corrected, but then become undesirable in the older dog. A dog will also chew if bored or lonely. Much like a child misbehaving to gain attention, a dog will chew on items so that you will focus your attention on him. Separation anxiety is another leading cause of chewing. A dog who feels anxious when left alone will chew an item vigorously, usually choosing an item that is highly regarded by their person. Another, although less likely, reason is that the dog is not receiving enough food each day and chews in an attempt to ease hunger.
Putting an end to a chewing habit requires consistency and responsibility on the owners part. The first step is to dog proof the environment as much as possible. Put shoes away in a closet and shut the door. Hide any exposed cords behind furniture or by using bread ties to prevent them from touching the floor. Eliminating the dogs’ ability to find something to chew on will go a long way towards ending the habit. Sour sprays or dabbing hot sauce on items will work as well.
Provide plenty of bones, toys and other safe items for chewing and teach your dog the difference. Use kong type toys to train by stuffing them full of treats or kibble at feeding time. Working to get to the food will keep your dog occupied and prevent boredom. If your dog has no interest in toys, smear a small amount of peanut butter on a new toy before giving it to him.
Exercise is vital when preventing behavior problems. A tired dog is not likely to get into trouble since he will be far to busy lounging on a couch or favorite spot on the floor! Take a vigorous walk of at least 30 minutes twice a day, scheduling walks right before any period of unsupervised time is the best method. An alternative is to play fetch, tug of war or any other active game outside or in the house. Play until your dog shows you he is ready to quit, by either playing less vigorously or stopping altogether. Don’t just give in to exercise to by playing Clash of Clans all day instead of taking care of your dog!
If you catch your dog in the act of chewing something inappropriate, correct him by saying no loudly. Take away the object and give him a toy or bone instead. If he runs from you with the object, do not chase him. If you give chase, he will see this as a game, which will encourage future chewing and running from you with the item. Never yell at or hit your dog for chewing or other unwelcome behaviors. They do not understand the reason behind the yelling or hitting, so it only serves to stress them and lead to more problem behaviors.
If all else fails or if you do not have the time immediately to consistently retrain your dog, keep him confined when you are not available to supervise him closely. A small, easy to clean room with a closed door will work, but a kennel is recommended. Choose one that is large enough for your dog to stand up, lie down and turn around in. Giving to much space in a kennel can lead to house training accidents if the dog can lay in one area and potty in another. Always provide toys and bones when a dog is created, to prevent boredom. A soft blanket or dog bed in the bottom of the crate will keep him comfortable. Do not leave your dog in a crate constantly, but provide plenty of exercise, attention, and stimulation when you are home to supervise. The best course of action is to immediately remove him from his crate and take him outdoors for playtime when you arrive home.