How to go about stopping a dog from chewing will depend on the reason it is chewing, and when it is chewing. Chewing usually occurs for 2 main reasons. One is early in life, a dog will chew while it is teething, to relieve the pain and pressure on its gums. The other main reason a dog will chew is out of stress or anxiety. Chewing provides comfort, as it releases endorphins, and gives them an outlet for their stress. Usually this type of chewing happens when you are out and is commonly referred to as Separation Anxiety, although anxious chewing can also occur when you are home. Archie (pictured) chewed this magazine until he was relaxed enough to stop, as wondering whether he was meant to be looking after anyone was making him anxious. Many dogs will also chew for attention. Here are some general dos and don’ts to help stop your dog from chewing, and to prevent it from becoming more of a problem dog behaviour:
- Ignore your dog if they are chewing something you can live without.
- Guide a puppy onto chewing something appropriate to chew on if they are chewing on something you can’t ignore.
- Gently move a dog away from what they are chewing on if this can be done in a calm matter of fact way.
- If they repeatedly re-offend, calmly walk them into another room (which is dog proofed) to give them a ‘time out’ to calm down.
- Cover areas they are likely to chew on where possible; managing the situation makes it easier for you to manage their behaviour
- Practice leaving the house calmly, and frequently. If you only ever go out occasionally, and this is stressful for them, they will continue to chew.
- Give your dog any attention when they are chewing, that includes telling them off.
- Rush at them or make loud noises to deter them, if they are anxious this will only make them worse.
- Leave them with Kong toys filled with food when you go out. This gives them the message that they are responsible for getting their own food, this also means that they are responsible for you, so their reason for chewing will remain.
- Assume that they are doing it to be naughty – anxiety is much more likely, so if you get cross they will worry about you all the more.
- Try to reassure your dog if they are anxiously chewing. They won’t understand the words, so this will add to their anxiety.
Ultimately to stop a dog from chewing you have to calmly prove to them that they don’t need to chew, and won’t get anywhere by doing it. This is beyond the teething stage obviously . By this point your dog will most likely be chewing because it thinks it is in charge and can’t cope with the responsibility. The kindest thing you can do is take the responsibility away from them. I can help you with this so if you are interested in finding out more please contact me for more information about how to book a dog listener consultation in your area. (I cover Essex, Kent, Suffolk and parts of Herts and London)