August 19, 2021 8 min read

Tips on How to Stop Dogs from Chewing Things

Stop us if this sounds familiar: You come home from work, expecting to find everything as you left it and your dog ready to greet you with a goofy smile on their face. Instead, you find your favorite pair of sneakers with teeth marks in them, your beautiful couch cushions destroyed, and a dog with the guiltiest expression you’ve ever seen waiting for you to notice their handiwork.

As frustrating as it can be to come home to chewed-up couch cushions, chewing itself is a normal and healthy behavior for our canine companions. In addition to supporting healthy gums and teeth, the act of chewing also boosts your pup’s brainpower by providing them with mental stimulation.

Still, you probably don’t love it when your dog destroys your possessions or even your home itself. Enter this helpful guide on how to stop dogs from chewing things. Ahead, we’ll explain why dogs chew and provide tips on how to curb unwanted chewing.

why do dogs chew

Why Dogs Chew 

So, why is your pup so doggone obsessed with chewing? The short answer is that your dog’s desire to nibble and gnaw on things is hardwired into their furry little brain. Chewing is a perfectly normal activity that provides a slew of benefits, including better dental health, stress relief, mental stimulation, and strong jaws.

Of course, this doesn’t really explain why dogs chew in the first place. Although it can be difficult to decode the behavior of canines, here are some of the most plausible explanations for why your dog loves to chew on things:

  • Exploration: If you’ve recently welcomed a new puppy into your home, you may have noticed that your little furball loves to chew on, well, everything. Your socks. Your furniture. Maybe even your hands. Like babies, puppies use their mouths to explore the world around them. Your puppy is learning what they can and can’t chew on at this stage, so try to be extra patient with them!
  • Puppy Teething: Another reason why puppies chew is to relieve sore gums caused by teething. This process tends to happen around the 3-to-4-months mark. During this time, it’s especially important to provide a variety of dog chew treats and appropriate chew toys to distract them from their discomfort. 
Treat Your Pup to a Tasty Chew

pup enjoying tasty chew treat

  • Boredom: Boredom is one of the most common reasons why dogs chew on inappropriate objects. Think about it: When you get bored, you probably call up a friend or find something to watch on Netflix. Dogs don’t have as many options as we do, so they’re more likely to chew on things when they get bored.
  • Lack of Exercise: This one tends to go hand in hand with boredom. According to PetMD, dogs need anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of exercise per day, based on factors such as age, breed, size, and overall health. When your dog doesn’t get enough exercise, they will inevitably start searching for a way to unleash all their pent-up energy. For many dogs, chewing is the perfect outlet. 
  • Stress and Anxiety: Dogs commonly use chewing as a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety. Why? Because chewing is a soothing activity that helps calm your dog down when they’re feeling anxious. Dogs with separation anxiety are especially prone to destructive chewing. If your dog has severe separation anxiety, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a pet behaviorist. 
  • Lack of Training: Another reason why some dogs chew on inappropriate objects comes down to a lack of proper training. Perhaps your dog bounced around different homes throughout puppyhood and didn’t get the opportunity to learn good chewing habits. Maybe you just assumed that the problem would fix itself once your puppy became an adult dog. Whatever the reason, it’s up to you to catch your dog up to speed and make up for lost time.
  • Enjoyment: The canine brain can be a mystery at times, but let’s not overcomplicate things — sometimes dogs like to chew because it’s simply a fun thing to do. In fact, chewing releases serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters in your pup’s brain that improve their mood and help them sleep. So, if you want your pup to be happier and healthier, encouraging good chewing habits is key!

6 tips to stop unwanted chewing

How to Stop Dogs from Chewing Things 

Once you understand the motivation behind your dog’s unwanted chewing, the real work can begin. Breaking your dog’s chewing habits will likely require a lot of time and patience on your part, so remember to be realistic with your training expectations. Depending on the reason behind your dog’s chewing behavior, you may need to consult a behaviorist. But, first, try these tips to help your dog stop chewing on things:  

1. Supervise your dog carefully.

Avoid letting your dog roam freely in the house, even if you’re only going to be gone for five minutes to talk to your neighbor. While five minutes may not seem like a long time to you, it’s plenty of time for Fido to notice your absence and find a tasty sneaker to chew on while you’re distracted.

To avoid any chewing mishaps, keep your dog supervised at all times and be ready to act the moment your pup finds an inappropriate chewing opportunity. Puppies are relatively easy to watch because they tend to have short bursts of energy followed by long naps. However, if you have an adult dog or rambunctious puppy, you may want to consider keeping them tethered to you with a long leash so that they’re never out of sight.

2. Control their environment. 

Let’s face it. You can’t be with your dog 100 percent of the time. When you cannot supervise your dog, keep them confined to a crate, a puppy playpen, or another dog-proof area. Crate training is particularly beneficial for puppies because it can help with other parts of their training, such as housebreaking. Besides, crating your dog is one of the safest ways to travel with them, so you might as well get them used to it from a young age! 

Dogs of all ages can be crate trained — the key is to take things slow and create positive associations with the crate. Consider periodically putting treats in your dog’s crate and adding a soft blanket or crate pad to make it cozier.

3. Incorporate healthy chew treats into their routine.

Remember, chewing offers a number of mental and physical health benefits for your dog. Therefore, the goal isn’t to stop your dog from chewing altogether, but rather to teach them good chewing habits. One way to do just that is by scheduling time for your dog to chew on edible things, such as all-natural bully sticks, collagen cheeks, and marrow bones for dogs. Not only are these dog chew treats safe and healthy for dogs, but they’re also a great way to head off bad behavior by satisfying your pup’s desire to chew.

paw love marrow bone pack

Keep in mind that dogs often have specific times of the day when they like to chew and gnaw on things. Consider offering your pup a variety of chew treats at different times of the day to find out what works best for them.

4. Offer a variety of chew toys and mix things up regularly.

In addition to offering chew treats, make sure that your dog has plenty of inedible chew toys to gnaw on whenever they get bored. Try to choose toys that will keep your pup busy and occupied for long periods of time. (Hint: a frozen KONG toy is always a crowd-pleaser). Although your dog probably has their favorite toys, it’s also a good idea to rotate their toys weekly by making only a handful available at one time. 

This will help keep things new and exciting for them, preventing the kind of boredom that often leads to unwanted chewing. Dogs are often in different moods for different toys, so it’s also a good idea to offer toys in a variety of textures (e.g., thick rope, plush, rubber, and Kevlar). This is especially important for teething puppies who may prefer to gnaw on different textures to help ease their sore gums. 

retriever puppy chewing toy

5. Interrupt and redirect their behavior.

When you catch your dog chewing on something inappropriate, gently interrupt the behavior and redirect their attention to an appropriate chew toy. Keep in mind that your dog may have found an item more exciting than the one you’re trying to offer them. If your dog is unwilling to give the object up, you may need to offer them a high-value treat — aka, a treat so enticing that it motivates your pup to listen to you.

High-value treats can vary depending on the dog’s preferences, but, in general, anything that has a strong aroma or taste (or both!) should do the trick. Bully sticks, for example, have a distinct odor that dogs will recognize the second you open up the bag, while marrow bones are a 10/10 on the flavor scale for dogs. If your dog doesn’t drop the object for these chew treats, they’re probably not going to give it up for anything!

6. Practice the “leave it” command.

The “leave it” command is exactly what it sounds like — you drop a random object on the ground and instruct your dog to “leave it” alone. This command is a particularly useful addition to your chew training sessions because it teaches your dog that they should automatically leave foreign objects alone unless you give them permission.

Try to practice “leave it” with your dog using lots of different household objects, such as your wallet, socks, books, and anything else you don’t want Fido chewing on. When your dog leaves the object alone and focuses their attention on you, reward them with lots of praise and treats! Eventually, your dog will get the picture that they can’t just start chewing on random things.

7. Tire your dog out mentally and physically.

Most cases of destructive chewing can be chalked up to boredom, lack of exercise, or a combination of the two. This is especially common with high-energy dog breeds that need lots of mental and physical stimulation. Start by giving your dog plenty of physical exercise every day. While most dogs are satisfied with a long walk, others may need a hardy game of fetch. Here are a few other ways to tire your pup out physically:

give your pup exercise

  • Take them to the dog park.
  • Arrange a puppy playdate.
  • Run or jog with your dog.
  • Drop them off at a daycare facility for a few hours.

Don’t forget to stimulate their brain, too. This is especially helpful for working breed dogs that need lots of mental stimulation. Give your dog plenty of brain-stimulating toys, play the classic muffin game with them, and start the day with a training session. Your pup will be less likely to chew when their brain and body are thoroughly worked out.

Train with Positivity and Praise

When you catch your dog chewing on something important to you, it can be tempting to pull the object out of their mouth and scold them. But studies have shown time and time again that negative reinforcement isn’t an effective way to change your dog’s behavior. Dogs respond best to positivity and praise, which is why it’s better to get your dog’s attention and trade the item for a tasty chew treat or toy.

Remember, it takes time for dogs to change their behavior. Be patient, positive, and consistent with your dog’s training. Eventually, your pup will learn good chewing habits and put their mouths to work in a good way!


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