Causes of Unwanted or Destructive Dog Chewing – And How To Stop It

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Ohhhhh the horrors of destructive dog chewing!

unwanted or destructive dog chewing

I, too, have lost a few items over the years to the jaws of an over exuberant canine partner!

First, Let’s Understand Unwanted Dog Chewing

Dogs don’t have hands, or fingers or thumbs!

Dogs explore their world with their mouths!

If they were raccoons, or monkeys or humans; they could pick your items up with their hands.

After all, you don’t throw your dog’s ball and expect him to catch it with his paw or hand, right?

So how then do you expect your dog to interact with the things in his environment.

He uses his mouth, often inappropriately to do so!

Why Does My Dog Choose My Favorite Things To Chew On?

unwanted or destructive dog chewing

A question I often get is “Why does he choose my favorite/most expensive things?”.

Your favorite things spend the most time in your hands, and or on your body.

Dogs love socks and underwear because they smell more like us than anything else your dog could get to.

I know it is gross, but your dog doesn’t think in those terms.

He steals your cell phone, your Gameboy, your glasses, your remote control, your lap top; all because they, too, spend a lot of time soaking up your scent.

He loves you, he wants to be with and near the things that smell like you, especially if you leave him alone where he is able to grab things!

What About All the Other Stuff Your Dog Chews On?

Dogs get bored!

Might I again mention that they don’t have hands…

He can’t sit down on the sofa and flick on animal planet and watch TV for hours.

He can’t grab a book off of the book shelf and read a book.

He can’t grab the game control and play video games with his friends into the night.

We let them outside in the morning to go potty and then back inside and we kind of expect them to become these Zombie dogs that just wander the house completely happy to be alive and not need any kind of simulation.

This really isn’t realistic for most dogs.

Most dogs yearn for human interaction, physical touch, physical exercise and mental stimulation.  And for a great video series that shows you how to provide mental stimulation, click here.

And, I guarantee you if you are providing all of the aforementioned things you won’t really have to worry about your “things”. unwanted or destructive dog chewing

Human interaction and physical touch require a human to be in the environment providing these things.  And, if your dog grabs your cell phone with his mouth while you are sitting next to him, you are likely to at the very least take it away.

You see most of the “stealing of things” happens when the dog is not in the room with you.

Although I like my dogs to have some independence, I also expect them to be in the room with me the majority of the time.

I know if I can’t see my dogs for an extended period they are probably getting into trouble somewhere!  So I have just never allowed it.

When my dogs are young, they are on a leash until they know first off, not to steal or chew my things, and also so that they get into the habit of following me around the house.

Leashes and tethers in the house can be a fabulous way to ensure the safety of all of your things.

At some level, I think it is important to actually “TEACH” your dog what he can and can’t put in his mouth.

After all, how do I expect him to know that his toys and the kids toys are different, unless I teach him?

The same goes for anything else that is exciting or smells like me!

Physical Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Physical exercise is important!

Again, imagine sitting in your house all day every day and never truly getting any exercise.  This is a more tolerant idea as a person ages, but expecting a 5 year old child to sit still all day with no exercise or mental stimulation would be completely cruel.

 unwanted or destructive dog chewing

Your dog needs to run!

Your dog needs to walk!

And, your dog needs to do both of those things like the athlete that he was born to be.

That means a walk around the block or a mile or two stroll isn’t going to do the trick!

THIS is what I mean by exercise; it will show you what kind of stimulation most dogs need to be happy!

Mental stimulation is actually even more important! And for more on that, check out this post here: http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/mental-exercise-tires-dog-physically-physical-exercise/

Yes, his body needs to expel some energy and build muscle and this helps him to be tired.

But stimulating his brain is even more important.

Thankfully mental exercise can come in many forms.

Want To Learn More About Mental Exercises To Stop Unwanted Chewing?

Check out our Impulse Control program, where we walk you through teaching your dog how to relax and stop unwanted chewing.

Click here to learn this ‘Impulse Control’ training process

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Things to chew on: antlers, Nylabones, Kongs, peanut butter stuffed bones, or whatever you want to use that is safe for your dog to chew!

Even though I exercise and train my dogs, my 4 year old Malinois goes through about 3 XL Elk Antlers every couple of months.  He doesn’t sit still well for long and he likes to chew, and it is a lot cheaper and easier to provide him with toys and antlers and things to chew on than it is to hope he doesn’t shred something of mine.

But chewing things only lasts for so long.

Training is REAL mental stimulation.

It requires effort to learn and perform a new command!

Plus obedience training helps your dog to listen to you!

So, BONUS, when he grabs an item he shouldn’t have and you tell him to “Leave It” or drop it or whatever his automatic response is to listen!

So work on your basic, advanced or excellent dog obedience skills.

Teach your dog a trick.

Or just teach him a new skill!

He will be tired after a good training session and I might mention again, he will also be better trained!

Put Them Together

Now try putting them together.

Don’t get me wrong, I do all of the above and sometimes I do them all singularly.

But often I mix up the stimulation I am providing.

By throwing his ball (physical exercise) and then asking him to lie down, or sit (mental stimulation) prior to throwing his ball again; I hit two birds with one stone and end up with a tired dog in about a quarter of the time it would take me to wear him out while walking and then training.

A tired dog won’t chew your things.

A tired dog will be too tired to get into trouble!

Aim for a tired dog!

 unwanted or destructive dog chewing

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There are 19 Comments

  1. sharon sampson says:

    Other things that are happening are WE are getting into shape to train our dogs and then, gee, the dog is getting into incredible shape to challenge us.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    AWESOME

    [Reply]

  2. Natalie Widomski says:

    I use antlers as well for my chewers x4 . Do you order your supply online by chance. My Piitie would go through one a day if I left it lying around for her. I usually give them about 30 min to an hour of chewing and then take away

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I order mine online and I order the XL full ones that would be impossible to chew that quickly http://www.elkantlerdogchewsllc.com/

    [Reply]

  3. Are antlers safe?

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    Minette Reply:

    Nothing is 100% safe. The biggest risk is breaking a tooth, as long as you get one that is big enough that the dog can’t choke on it.

    The nice thing about antlers is that the dog can’t chew off big pieces, only tiny bits come off as they chew so they last a long time if you get the super big ones.

    [Reply]

  4. Donna green says:

    I have 3 Yorkies ranging in size from 5 to 12 pounds. Would antlers be ok for them ? Do they sell small ones ?
    I have never heard of that for dog chew toys.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    They do sell smaller ones

    [Reply]

  5. Hi. My little dog bites on everything,I have tried everything. She is a terrier and my husband and I have had her ten months and we have had to buy at least six new harnesses and leaches for her because she constantly chews. Them,we buy blankets for her and she chews them at the ends please help me we have tried everything. GARDINE Gibbons

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    more exercise!!!

    [Reply]

  6. Gloria Eagan says:

    I always used vinegar or clear hot sauce on items I suspected they would chew, works like a charm. However my cousins dog that is a fairly new rescue dog, is blind & about 5 yrs old chews on anything cloth including leather. Nothing works besides putting her in a crate when leaving the house. Any help?

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  7. Nancy Moisan says:

    Sheltie is displaying signs of boredom, constantly demanding attention to play. I alternate toys, chew and play, loves her tennis ball. I came home this evening to a chewed slipper, which is a first although she did chew 2 leashes younger. She’s 15 mths,, we are home most of the time and I don’t want to be out doing errands and worry about our personal items, and no I don’t crate. Would this be an option for say a month, until I think she got the msg. Thanks

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  8. I have a Boston Terrier (adorable, 8 months) I walk him everyday at least for 1 hour. I play with him in the patio or inside the house as much as my schedule permits it. He has free access to the patio 24/7 but he is an indoors dog.
    But my dog is obsessive with chewing he chew and destroy his toys, he brings all sort of branches, sticks, bark, plants etc from outdoors, we have to place barriers to the plants so he does not have access to them. If I ask him to drop something he does but goes and looks for something else… he does not stop! he even has a toy that he chews until he fall asleep (he looks like a baby with a pacifier)… I am been following your program and we (me included) have advanced a lot but obsessive chewing have not improved. I am been trying more strong and resistant toys so they last and he does not swallow them. Do I have a hope? Thanks.

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  9. Lynne says:

    I have had my dog for approximately 4 months now. She doesn’t chew any personal items thankfully. However she has destroyed every dog toy in the house. My other dogs do not tear up toys. My Great Dane is specially love the squeaky. And if I bring a new one home within an hour the squeaky is out and then the rest of the night pulling the stuffing out. She also takes bizarre things off the coffee table and end table when I’m not home which I am assuming is separation anxiety.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Nope, I am guessing she is bored. Most dogs don’t have true separation anxiety.

    [Reply]

  10. Isabel says:

    I recently got a second dog and we did dog proof the room and left toys for them to play with while we were at work but when we got home yesterday, they had ripped the rubber weather stripping off the wall and eaten it. I try to leave the room they are in with no temptations but how do I “take away the temptation” of the walls? I really don’t want to have to crate them for such extended periods of time. Please help! She’s such a sweet dog, I just can’t get her to stop destroying things.

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    Minette Reply:

    Crates keep dogs and your things safe. If you don’t want to crate, look into doggy day care so the dog is stimulated.

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  11. Michelle says:

    You say that you should not allow your puppy to chew on your hand from day one. I have also read that it is vital for a puppy to learn bite inhibition, which it learns ideally from its siblings and mother–how hard to bite before the biting is too hard. We got our puppy at 8 weeks (11 weeks now) and we allowed her to learn bite inhibition by allowing her to nibble on us, giving her feedback when her bites were too strong. My question is, how would she learn this otherwise?

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    Minette Reply:

    This makes absolutely no send to me. Would the same puppy need to bite your 2 year old or infant to learn bite inhibition with him/her?

    NO!

    Teeth don’t belong on humans, period. The dog shouldn’t need to know how hard to bite a human if he isn’t supposed to bite at all! Unless you are raising a sport/police dog.

    Biting on me is unacceptable from day one for me.

    [Reply]

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