No pet owner loves coming home after at hard day at work to find their dog has chewed their throw pillows, slippers, or left teeth marks on their coffee table legs. Not only does your home look like it has been hit by a wrecking ball, it can be upsetting & costly as well. Dogs can chew up precious family heirlooms or get into something harmful & unsafe. The key to correcting this destructive behavior is getting to the root of matter. Separation anxiety and boredom are the #2 reasons why dogs become chewing machines & master destroyers.
1. Separation anxiety: The saying is true “absences makes the heart grow fonder” or in a dog’s case, makes them chew. Anxious dogs chew everything in sight to relieve stress and anxiety when you are away. When your dog chews, he or she is saying in a destructive manner “I love you & miss you!”. So, when you do leave for work or run errands, don’t fuss over your dog– this just makes it worse.
2. Boredom: Dogs are natural busy bodies and get bored very easily leaving your shoes as dismembered causalities; you are left cleaning up what’s left of your leather soles. Their way of squelching their boredom is to chew, chew, chew some more. Nothing is safe from your dog’s chompers, even if that inappropriate chew toy is your windowsill.
Giving your dog a proper outlet to release some of that pent up energy due to boredom is important. Keeping your dog properly exercised with a long walk, run, or good game of fetch twice a day will help prevent your home from being torn apart and turned upside down by that four legged Hurricane Spike. Find out what activities are best and fun for your dog and be diligent about scheduling it in everyday. Sometimes all your dog is barking for is a little TLC and quality time. If your dog knows his reward when you come through the door is a walk or run, this will give him the will power to behave while you are out.
The saying “You are innocent till proven guilty” does not hold true for our four legged friends. Those puppy eyes will get you every time, so remember to be stern when saying “No”. If you catch your dog in the act, discipline right away and then offer a better chewing option. When he does take the toy in his mouth, make sure you praise him.
It is important to discipline at that moment, because dogs do not have good memory and won’t understand later why they are being scolded. If you discover your dog has chewed an item but don’t catch him in the act, it’s too late to administer a correction. You may think that when your dogs cowers, runs away, or hidse that he or she feels guilty. But truth be told, dogs don’t have a guilty conscience– all they know is that you have an angry tone of voice, body posture, or facial expression which makes them exhibit submissive behavior. Your dog doesn’t know what he’s done wrong; he only knows that you’re upset. Therefore, punishment after the fact will not only fail to eliminate the undesirable behavior, but may provoke other undesirable behaviors, too.
Here are 3 tips that will help protect your dog and the home:
1. Put away precious heirlooms- Dogs explore the world not just with their strong sense of smell but investigate their mouths, and in the process, may inflict damage and teeth marks. So, NEVER leave your valuables within paws’ or mouths’ reach of your dog. Where there’s a will, there is a way, and dogs surely have the will to get anything off the counter or shelf. Dogs have a fascination with shoes, socks, Tupperware, wood and the list goes on. To them anything within reach is fair game to play with or have a mid-afternoon snack or chew. Never give your dogs human objects to play with like shoes or socks if you don’t won’t him chewing & destroying other belongings. It is important they understand their boundaries that human objects are not play or chew toys.
2. Have a Toy Chest- Keeping your dogs toy chest filled with his favorite play things will keep him or her preoccupied. Its important to rotate toys so they are not bored; dogs love variety.
3. Leave your dog in safe place- Confinement may be an option to keep your dog and possessions safe. You can crate your dog or restrict him to a particular area of the room. Keep in mind that larger dogs may be able to chew free from crate, open doors, and damage walls.