How can I stop destructive dog chewing 2008-01-01

First of all, you can't and shouldn't stop dog chewing as it is a natural and healthy activity for puppies and dogs. This article explores the reasons for chewing and what actions you can take to minimise the damage your dog causes through chewing.

Why do dogs and puppies chew?

In general there are three main reasons for your dog or puppy to chew:

Teething : This occurs between the ages 14-28 weeks. Chewing on objects helps sooth and loosen the gums around teeth, thus allowing 'baby' teeth to fall out and proper teeth to grow through.

Exploratory Chewing: Occurs roughly from the age of 28-52 weeks. Just as human babies use their hands to explore objects, puppies use their mouths.

Calming / Stress Management: Chewing causes a chemical release of endorphins which have a calming effect on your dog. Many dogs chew to relieve stress and anxiety. This does not mean your dog is necessarily anxious, just that they know chewing calms them and makes them feel better.

How do I stop destructive chewing?

Since dogs have no sense of the value of the items they explore and chew, they can often be seen as destructive in our eyes. Rather than looking to inhibit chewing, you should be looking to focus your dog’s chewing on those items you are happy for it to chew on. The first step is to teach your dog to understand the difference between what is yours and what is theirs. To do this they must see toys as a reward, something that is special and very different to the chair leg for example. Here are some hints and tips to help achieve this:

  • To start with, make only 3 toys available to your dog. Make them all different in taste, texture and shape.
  • Use these toys and play regularly with your dog. This lets them associate these toys with good things and it is therefore more likely your dog will play with them when you are not there.
  • Make one of the toys a hollow fill toy that can be filled with food and treats, further encouraging them to use them. See our article on how to use a Kong and the other activity toys that are available.
  • Remove valuable items or put them out of reach. Discourage your dog from chewing other objects (furnishings etc) with deterrents such as Johnstons Anti Chew. This has a bitter taste and if sprayed on furniture, its taste deters chewing.
  • Keeping your dog confined when you are not watching them. Crate training is seen as one of the best ways to do this (see our article - Dog Crates & Crate Training). Alternatively you could use a play pen to restrict movement to a specific area.
  • When you see your dog chewing the correct items, praise them. This gives further positive reinforcement around chewing the correct objects. Avoid over doing this such that it interrupts their chewing.
  • If you catch your dog about to chew on something they are not meant to, catch their attention with a firm "NO". Immediately give them something they can chew on and praise them when they do.
  • The best form of correction is from the objects themselves! Ok, this sounds odd and needs to be explained. If you discipline your dog for chewing an incorrect object, it can lead them to mistakenly believe they cannot chew at all, or cannot chew in your presence. If however, by chewing a certain object, a certain negative consequence occurs, it will deter them later. The best way to do this is to startle your dog with a squirt from a water pistol (on the back of their head) just as they are about to chew the object. It is important that the dog does not see you do this. It must think it is the object itself. This can be considered slightly aversive and is recommended as a last resort where all other methods have failed.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, keep it all positive and reward correct behaviour. Treat any mistakes as your fault for not correctly teaching your dog those items it can or cannot chew.

© 2008 Canine Concepts Ltd




thanks but will it defently work it is just my dog is chewing my dads appliances and he is after getting rid of her she is like my best mate thanks again x


Hey I'm a 16 year old with an 11 month old German Shepherd, his an amazing dog! He sits, stays, retrieves, and knows extra commands like back, left and right, but when ever I have to punish him he wets himself and when I leave him alone for more than a few minutes he destroys everything, I decided to look to the internet for help as he has just destroyed my playstation 3. I've looked at all common reasons but none of them fit. He knows I'm pack leader and he waits on my command for everything even his food and he won't leave my side even if someone calls him until I give him the signal. Please help me out as he can be an amazing house pet and guard dog.


Hi Jordan, Looks like you are doing a good job at training. Dogs often wet themselves as a sign of submission. They get very stressed when they do this. So, my advice would be to definitely stop telling your dog off. It is likely that your dog is extremely upset at being left alone and the only way it knows how to calm himself, is by chewing (a bit like us biting our nails when we are nervous or anxious). So the best thing to do is to slowly teach him to be on his own, ensuring there are plenty of chews around for him and that you have walked him enough and had enough interaction with him, so that he has released some energy. Best thing to do is to find a reward-based trainer who will show you one-to-one.

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