Sarah Wilson

Dog Expert

5 Tips for Living with a Destructive Dog

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Destructive ChewingThe man was so frustrated. His young dog was out of his sight for a few minutes during which time his pup got a hold of his prescription reading glasses. Or, what used to be his prescription reading glasses. He wanted to know what could be done to stop this. Here’s what you do:

1) Keep your dog in view
If a dog, of any age, has learned that you get angry when you see him chew, he may well have learned to sidestep “your hot button” by chewing out of your sight. And a dog who learns this can be very, very quick about it. Close doors, block larger openings with wide gates or open ex-pens. Do what you need to do but keep that dog in your view!

2) Use the crate
Regardless of your opinion about crates or your dog’s age, if you have a chewer and you cannot watch them then they must be contained where they cannot practice chewing. So crate them. Use as large a crate as you like. And no bedding but a good crate toy or two inside with them.

3) Rotate tough chew toys. 
Invest in a few really good chew toys then rotate them so your dog gets “new” ones to work on daily. I make sure such dogs chew hard for 15-20 minutes twice a day (or more). I build their toy obsession. Store spare chew toys in with their kibble.

I avoid toys that give that dog destructive behavior practice. Example: Your dog rips up pillows like the one shown in the pic here then don’t give him soft toys to rip up. Ripping fabric is great fun for dogs. They don’t need much practice to make it a serious habit. Also, put things that you handle a lot or wear out of reach for now: shoes, socks, remote controls, wallets, retainers, and, yes, your glasses. (Basically anything that smells like you cause dogs love things that smell like the people they love!)

4) Stay calm
This is not some idle comment, it is necessity. One reason dogs chew is stress/confusion. If you get upset with them, especially for reasons they do not fully comprehend, their stress level goes up. Wouldn’t yours? Since they cannot phone a friend or read a book or watch TV, they chew. Here’s the cold hard truth: If you getting upset was going to help. At all. You would not be reading this blog. Focus on preventing the problem while encouraging better choices.

5) Exercise the body and mind
Boredom is a serious risk for many of our companion dogs. Some dogs sleep more when bored. That clearly isn’t your dog. Dogs who are boredom chewers are usually active and smart. You either use that activity and intelligence in a good way or it is used in a bad way. Those are your choices.

As I wrote earlier, we don’t get to choose what our dog needs. We only get to choose whether or not we do it. Destructive chewing is a controllable habit that can be change when you change. That’s the only way.


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