Help! My Dog Won’t Stop Chewing My Stuff!!!
If your dog is literally eating you out of house and home, it may seem that your only choice is to live with furniture from the thrift store and replace it as needed. Not true! Here are a couple of strategies to help you restore your sanity.
It can be helpful, especially during the puppy years, to limit your dog’s access to certain areas of your home. While I don’t advocate isolating your dog, as this may heighten his destructive tendencies, you may want to close certain doors or put up baby gates to designate no-dog zones. If you have a prized antique writing desk that has been in the family for eight generations, make sure it is in the dog-free zone until you are sure the dog has no interest in it.
When you can’t be home, crate the dog or confine him or her to a very small area with easy to clean floors, such as a bathroom. This arrangement not only keeps your furniture from being chewed, but also has a protective function for the dog. A dog who freely roams the house may eat poisonous plants, drink cleaning products, or choke on small toys left under the couch by your kids. Even adult dogs can benefit from being crated during the day. And let’s face it: when you’re not home, most dogs sleep about 90% of the time, so it will be no great hardship to stay in a kennel, no matter how guilty the dog makes you feel when you leave the house.
Provide acceptable chew toys
The best way to stop inappropriate chewing is to provide plenty of things for the dog to gnaw on that are acceptable to you.
For teething puppies, you might soak a washcloth and put it in the freezer for a few hours, then let the dog nibble on it to soothe his or her sore gums.
For dogs of any age, a variety of chew toys will be appreciated. Having a choice of toys keeps your dog from getting bored, and some chew toys even stimulate the dog to think.
Hard bones, with our without flavoring are a favorite for most dogs. They help keep the dog’s teeth clean by reducing tartar build-up, and they satisfy the dog’s urge to gnaw. Best Bully Sticks offers a wide variety of all-natural knuckle bones, bison shin bones, beef shank bones, and cow hooves from US and Brazilian meat sources.
Squeaky toys give your dog the excitement of chewing on something that makes a prey-like noise, while avoiding injuries from clawing and sometimes stinky wild animals. (Yes, my Kayla brought home a skunk recently, and she has cuts all over her head from the fight put up by the critter.)
Squeaky toys may be made of vinyl/rubber/plastic or may be plush to give the dog the feel of real fur. These toys usually come in a wide variety of clever or cute shapes and sizes, mostly to make the humans feel that they are giving the dog something in which he or she might have an interest. It really doesn’t matter to the dog if the toy is shaped like a hamburger or a newspaper or a rabbit; they all taste the same. Oh My Dog Supplies carries both plush and non-plush squeakers.
The major problem with squeaky toys is that the dog often feels compelled to get to the squeaker. This means they don’t often last very long. The rubber ones are ripped apart, and the plush ones may end up covering your home with their stuffing so it looks like an indoor blizzard. Unstuffed plush squeaky toys are available, but are still subject to being torn apart in your dog’s quest for the squeaker.
Chew toys that require your dog to think are a great option for those dogs who become destructive when bored. The idea behind these toys is that your dog must figure out how to get to the treat inside. In most cases, the very thick plastic or rubber cannot be chewed up, so the dog has to actually find the trick that opens the container or forces the treat out through a hole in the side. Best Friends’ General Store offers Tux and Kong treat dispensers, as well as various other brands.
The most popular chew deterrent is undoubtedly bitter apple, a spray that can’t be sensed by humans but has an off-putting scent and taste to your dog. A little bit of bitter apple on your chair legs, shoes, or anywhere else your dog thinks is a snack can discourage chewing in most dogs. It is non-toxic and generally doesn’t stain carpets or fabrics. You can buy it virtually anywhere (big box stores, pet stores, or even at Amazon.com)
If bitter apple doesn’t work for your dog, you might try some of these alternatives: original flavor Listerine, 1 part white vinegar in 3 parts water, or Tabasco sauce. Some or all of these may stain your fabrics, so test them first on a hidden area.
Eventually, most dogs grow out of their need to chew on furniture about the time their adult teeth come in. However, some dogs will continue to chew out of habit or boredom. These are the dogs that will benefit from lots of mentally stimulating toys and more interactive time with you.