How to Stop Destructive Chewing

Is chewing a destructive behavior?
The simple answer is:
Only if they are chewing on the wrong thing.

We dog owners have to understand
that a lot of the behaviours that we consider unwanted
are natural behaviours for dogs.
Behaviour like chewing and digging,
might be considered unwanted by us
but it is natural behaviour for dogs.

So the focus of our training should not be
on trying to prevent the dog from chewing,
but to train the dog to chew on their own toys
instead of chewing your shoes or furniture.

Bulldogs are known to love to chew on things,
with their strong jaws and perseverance
they can easily ‘re-decorate’ your living room within the hour.

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Reasons for Chewing?

There are four main reasons why dogs start to chew.
One is that they are teething (puppies till 4-8 months old)
or that the dog is bored and starts chewing as an activity or form of play,
it can be separation anxiety or can have medical reasons.

Teething

A dog’s deciduous teeth will erupt
between three to eight weeks of age
and around four to eight months of age
these teeth will be gradually replaced with permanent teeth.

Teething is a painful process and puppies will start to chew more
during this period because their gums are irritated
and the act of chewing relieves their discomfort.
Inappropriate chewing is most likely to occur
while the puppy is teething but if not corrected
can become a long standing problem
even after all the adult teeth have emerged.

Puppies will not only want to chew because of the teething
but it is also a way for them to
explore and investigate their surroundings.
Puppies, like infants and toddlers,
explore their world by putting objects in their mouths.
Knowing this, make sure to buy chew toys with different textures,
this will keep your puppy busy and curious
and it will decrease the changes of your puppy
searching your home for new chew toy.

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Boredom

If your dog has too much energy,
that energy will be re-directed somewhere else
and that may just be your favorite new pair of shoes.
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Separation Anxiety

If the behavior only occurs
when you’re away from home,
then it may be a symptom of separation anxiety.
To stop chewing when left alone,
you’ll need to address this underlying issue.
In this case the chewing is more a symptom of the real issue.



Medical issues

Some nutritional deficiencies can lead to pica,
which is an eating disorder which results in eating non-food items.
Also some dogs suffering from gastrointestinal issues
may use chewing to trigger vomiting to feel better.
Particularly if the behavior started suddenly,
it’s worth ruling out medical causes
before addressing it as a behavioral issue.

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How to Stop your Dog from Chewing

First of all you need to know Why your dog is chewing.
The reasons for chewing named above
will each need a different approach:

Training Puppies when Teething

• make sure to have load of different toys around
(different textures, shapes and sizes)
• correct every time you see them chewing on something
that is not a toy and encourage them when chewing on their toys
• when left alone remove items
that they might chew on to prevent any health risks
to the puppies and damages to your home
(only do this when you leave when you get back
make sure to put them back so you are not avoiding
the bad behaviour but adressing it)

Training when dealing with Boredom

• again get lots of different toys
• use toys as tools and make sure to find toys
that both physically and mentally challenge them
• schedule short quality playtime sessions throughout the day
• increase the amount and distance of walks

Make sure your dog is physically and mentally challenged each day.
Two ways to do this are to play interactive games with your dog
like fetch or hide and seek or to give them toys that will
challenge them mentally like a ball
they have to roll around to get the treats out.

Use puzzle and reward toys for your dog,
the last few years there are more and more puzzle toys available
for your dog that entices your dog and will keep them busy for a while.

A couple examples:

Snuffle mats
fluffy mats where you hide treats
the dog needs to use its nose to get to the treats

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Strategic games 
yes there are even gadgets available
to throw tennisballs from your phone
or where they have to complete certain tasks
(like pressing a button) to be rewarded

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Puzzles
the dog has to use it paws to be rewarded with a treat.
Beware do not buy dog puzzles with loose pieces
these can be dangerous, there are many varieties
make sure to buy one that is Bulldog proof

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Training when dealing with Separation Anxiety

I will address this issue in another blog but a few tips are:
• always go for a walk before leaving the house
• make sure the dog is calm and in it’s place
when you leave the house
• leave enough chew toys around to play with
• remove any items that might trigger the bad behaviour
when you are not around to correct,
it is important that you put these items back in place
as soon as you get home
(removing items to chew on is evading
any damages not solving the problem)

Tips and Tricks

• make sure all the toys your dog are safe to play with,
a lot of the toys that are sold in pet stores
can be a danger to your dog

• put the items you do not want your dog to play with,
for example shoes, on the floor in the middle of the room.
So in stead of hiding the item you are training your dog
on what not to chew. Correct each time the dogs tries to chew
one of the items (it is ok to smell the item but not to touch or chew)
and make sure there are also proper chew toys available

• when they have one favorite spot or item
where they like to chew,
you can buy an anti chew deterrent
and spray that particular spot/item.
This can be helpful to protect your items
but the method mentioned above
is the proper solution and this is just a helpful tool

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• when a puppy is teething try taking a face cloth,
wetting it, stick it in the freezer and give it to chew on
while it’s frozen, as it will both numb the gums a little
and also give some play and chew fun

• do not confuse toys with chews.
Toys are usually designed to be thrown,
chased, squeaked, and tugged during play.
Most are not designed to be chewed.
Bulldogs have very strong jaws
make sure to buy extra strong chew toys.
I’ve seen a lot of so called ‘indestructible toys’
destroyed in seconds by Bulldogs

• change toys frequently.
Most dogs will get bored with a chew
when it is available all the time.
Leave the best toys for when you go out
and do not have all toys available all the time but switch around

• don’t be played, some dogs are known to start chewing
on forbidden items just because they know,
when they chew that item you will immediately get up
and respond as where with the normal toys
your dog might get ignored.

Break this cycle by encaging the dog
when it brings it’s toys to you
and to correct the wrong behaviour
without using your voice.

Do not try to distract the dog
when it is chewing the wrong item
by waving a toy in front of him.
This will again only teach him to do it again,
in the dogs mind it means
whenever I start chewing the table I get playtime.
With chewing do not redirect but
consequently address the behaviour in a calm matter

• identify times of the day when your dog
is most likely to chew and give him a puzzle toy
filled with something delicious treats

• never give your dog the run of the house
until reliable behaviour is established,
build up from one room and make sure the dog
cannot hurt itself by for example chewing on electrical cords

• do not show your dog the damage he did and
spank, scold or punish him after the fact.
He cannot connect your punishment with some behavior
he did hours or even minutes ago.
The only right way is to correct the behaviour
in a calmly matter at the moment
the dog shows the unwanted behaviour

• remember: only remove items when you are away
and do not use a bench or kennel
as a solution to this problem,
the only solution is training your dog.
Putting a dog in a bench or kennel
is not a solution for bad behavior and you are evading
and not resolving the problem

I hope this Blog helped you
in understanding and addressing destructive chewing.

If you are struggling to apply these training techniques
and find a permanent solution for the destructive chewing behavior
of your dog, consider getting a licensed dog trainer to help or ask around in our Forum

Let’s finish with some laughs of naughty Bulldogs
who were caught in the act and on camera ☺

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