How to Deal With Your Dog’s Destructive Behavior

Puppy biting shoe

As you may have suspected from my previous post, I am taking a bit of a break from blogging in order to spend time with my mom. So what I have here is a great and informative article written by Helen Cole:

It’s normal for dogs to chew, says the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. When chewing becomes destructive, however, you must control the behavior to keep your pet safe and your belongings intact. Learn more about why your dog chews to prevent this inappropriate use of teeth:

Reasons for Destructive Chewing and How to Prevent It

Dogs chew for a variety of reasons. Puppies do so while they are teething to relieve pain and help adult teeth break through, according to the Humane Society of the U.S. By providing your puppy with an appropriate chew toy, you help her feel better while also teaching what what is appropriate to chew. Anytime her teeth get too close to a furniture leg or other off-limits item, interrupt with a loud noise, such as a clap, then offer an appropriate toy and provide praise when she takes it.

Kong offers a line of chew toys for puppies. They feature soft rubber and are freezable to provide numbing relief. You can find these products at pet supply stores.

A poorly trained puppy can grow into a destructive chewer. That being said, certain circumstances can cause even a well-trained adult dog to chew. They include:

  • Medical issue — A poor diet or intestinal parasite can lead to pica, an abnormal desire to eat substances not normally eaten, which can be mistaken for inappropriate chewing, veterinarian Dr. Kristy Conn points out. She also states that gastrointestinal problems can cause nausea, which can trigger chewing as a way to cope. She recommends seeing your vet to rule out such issues.
  • Separation anxiety — If, in addition to destructive chewing, your dog whines, barks, paces and forgets his housetraining when you are away, the cause may be separation anxiety, according to the ASPCA. The organization offers a lengthy description of this behavioral problem as well as ways to deal with it.
  • Boredom — If you rule out a medical issue and separation anxiety, simple boredom could be the cause. Try upping the physical and mental stimulation you give your animal. Add another walk to your daily routine or hit the dog park for off-leash play with other dogs. Food and treat puzzle toys engage a dog’s mind. Nina Ottosson toys, for example, require your dog to use his mind — plus nose and paw — to get a treat.

No matter the reason for destructive chewing, you must control both your dog’s behavior and access to items you don’t want chewed. Move what you can out of reach and spray taste deterrent on what you can’t, such as furniture. Crate your dog when you cannot provide supervision.

If you catch inappropriate chewing in the act, the Humane Society recommends the same actions as given for puppies. Never punish after the fact, as your dog cannot associate the correction with something done even a few minutes ago.

A Separate Issue: Fabric Sucking and Licking

If your dog doesn’t chew but instead sucks and licks on your fabric furniture, the above advice works as well. Instead of using a taste deterrent spray, which could stain the fabric, invest in removable covers for your furniture. Wayfair.com, for example, sells machine-washable futon covers that are easily replaced.

Back to me, Dawn. I have been lucky these past several years in that I’ve had very little problems with Maya and Pierson chewing on things they are not supposed to. The last time I had issues with a chewing dog was with Sephi in 2002 when the little devil dog chewed up all my bibles! What are some crazy experiences you’ve had with your dog chewing?

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5 Responses to “How to Deal With Your Dog’s Destructive Behavior”

  1. rubytheairedale Says:

    That is some good info!! Luckily, I don’t do any destructive chewin’…..well, does deadin’ my stuffies count??! BOL
    I sure hopes your Mom is comfortable….been thinkin’ about you guys! {{{{hugs}}}}
    Kisses,
    Ruby ♥

  2. Donna O. Says:

    Thinking about you too. Thanks for sharing a guest post, (with great info too), but don’t worry about us here in blog world. Take care of yourself, and your mom, and we’ll all still be here when you get back. :-)

  3. mollieandalfie Says:

    That is great info for the chewers, Mollie has always been good, we gave her a toy box when a pup, and has never chewed anything of ours. Luck I say LOL xxooxxx

    Mollie and Alfie

  4. Lindsay Says:

    Thinking of you, Dawn.

    As for the chewing, I’ve also been very lucky. I often hear that Labs are big chewers, but Ace has never really been one to chew. Of course, I got him when he was 12 months old so maybe his first owner had to deal with some major chewing. I’m not sure.

    I agree, Kong-type toys are a great option.

  5. 2browndawgs Says:

    Storm and Freighter are chewers…the little devils. lol Mostly it is their dog houses. Tasty wood just there for the taking.

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