A bored puppy with a mouth is like a curious baby with hands. Just like you can’t keep a young child from trying to explore the world around her with her tiny little fingers, you similarly can’t force a young dog to stop trying to chew and gnaw at exciting items with his mouth.
The truth is that chewing is a dog’s number one way of interacting with the world around him. So instead of trying to curb dog chewing problems by eliminating the root behavior—chewing—you’re going to go about it by first understanding your dog’s behavior, and then applying appropriate measures.
Dog chewing problems typically pop up because of one simple reason. Perhaps you just acquired a puppy and she’s begun to chew everything in her line of sight. Or maybe you have an older and mature dog who knows not to chew your socks.
But after purchasing an MP3 player and forgetting it on the floor, you come home later to discover he’s ripped it to shreds. In both instances, the dog is chewing simply because he or she doesn’t know any better. Suffice it to say, it’s just a dog.
So then how do you resolve dog chewing problems if the dog doesn’t know any better? You do it by instructing him on SPECIFIC items he can’t chew. This requires being vigilant and catching him in the act. As soon as you see him chewing on something that he’s not allowed to handle, immediately and sternly say NO while he’s in the act.
Keep in mind though that due to a dog’s limited intelligence, if you catch him chewing a sock and say no, he’ll have just learned not to chew that sock and any others that look like it. He may however still foolishly think it’s okay to chew your shoes, slippers, and those pink socks you save for special occasions. As is evident, it’s a painfully long and tedious process teaching a dog to keep its mouth off your goodies.
This strategy unfortunately does have its limitations. An extremely bored, under-exercised, and frustrated dog who knows not to chew a sock may decide to chew it anyway. That’s why to reduce dog chewing problems, you must be an attentive and caring dog owner. This means giving your dog enough attention, taking him out to exercise often enough, and providing alternative chewing devices like toys and bones.
This also allows you to build from the first strategy, in that after sternly saying no, merely replace the sock with an appropriate chew toy. The bottom line is that if you take your dog for granted, he’ll have no problem taking you for granted.
Unfortunately, some dogs were just built to chew. These types of dogs love to tear apart anything they can get their grimy claws on. And more often than not, such dogs come from a past of abuse or extreme isolation. When dealing with such a dog—in case you adopt a stray, for instance—the first and most important thing to do is put away everything that’s lying around the house.
I’m talking about clothes, shoes, children’s toys, movies, music CDs, etc. Everything should be put out of reach of the dog. In due time all dog chewing problems can be resolved, but in the meantime… it’s better to be safe than sorry!
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