Training Your Dog to Stop Chewing Everything in Sight

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Training Your Dog to Stop Chewing Everything in Sight

March 02, 2024 12 min read

Destructive chewing is a common and natural behavior in dogs that can lead to frustration for pet owners. Understanding why dogs chew and how to effectively manage this behavior is crucial. This article provides insightful tips and techniques to help you train your dog to stop chewing on inappropriate items, ensuring the safety of your belongings and the well-being of your furry friend.

Key Takeaways

  • Identifying the root cause of your dog's chewing behavior is essential for effective intervention, whether it's due to teething, boredom, anxiety, or curiosity.
  • Training commands like 'Leave It' and 'Drop It' are instrumental in teaching your dog what is not acceptable to chew, while positive reinforcement encourages good behavior.
  • Providing appropriate chew toys and creating a chew-friendly environment can help redirect your dog's chewing instincts away from household items.
  • Regular exercise and mental stimulation play a significant role in preventing destructive chewing by keeping your dog physically and mentally satisfied.
  • Implementing lifestyle changes such as establishing routines, introducing a doggy door, and using home remedies can support your efforts in managing your dog's chewing habits.

Understanding Your Dog's Chewing Behavior

Understanding Your Dog's Chewing Behavior

The Natural Instinct to Chew

Chewing is a fundamental aspect of a dog's life, often beginning as a puppy during the teething phase to alleviate discomfort. As dogs mature, this behavior serves multiple purposes, such as exploration, stress relief, and maintaining dental health. It's important to recognize that chewing is not just a destructive habit but a deeply ingrained instinct.

Different dogs have varying chewing needs based on their size, breed, and energy levels. For instance, working and sporting dogs often require more physical activity and may chew more if their energy isn't properly channeled. Monitoring your dog's weight and making diet adjustments can be crucial for managing their chewing behavior effectively.

While some chewing is expected, excessive or destructive chewing can indicate underlying issues such as anxiety, boredom, or nutritional deficiencies. Addressing these root causes is essential for curbing unwanted chewing.

Common Reasons for Destructive Chewing

Understanding why dogs engage in destructive chewing is crucial for addressing the behavior effectively. Below are some common reasons:

  • Boredom, anxiety, or fear can lead to chewing as a coping mechanism.
  • Seeking attention, especially if other methods don't yield the desired response from owners.
  • Teething discomfort in puppies, which can be alleviated through appropriate chew toys.
  • A lack of training or boundaries can result in inappropriate chewing habits.
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to keep them healthy and prevent them from developing destructive coping skills.

It's important to note that destructive chewing is not a way for dogs to spite their owners, but rather a sign that they may be lacking something in their environment or routine. Identifying the underlying cause is the first step towards curbing this unwanted behavior.

Identifying the Underlying Causes

To effectively address your dog's chewing habits, it's crucial to identify the underlying causes. Chewing can stem from a variety of reasons such as teething, boredom, anxiety, or a need for mental stimulation. By pinpointing the specific reason, you can implement targeted strategies to mitigate the behavior.

  • Teething: Puppies chew to alleviate discomfort as their teeth grow.
  • Boredom: Lack of mental and physical stimulation leads to chewing as a form of entertainment.
  • Anxiety: Stressful situations or separation anxiety can trigger destructive chewing.
  • Attention-Seeking: Dogs may chew to get a reaction from their owners.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: In some cases, dogs chew non-food items due to a condition known as pica, which can be related to dietary needs.
Addressing the root cause is essential. Consult with a veterinarian or a certified dog behaviorist if you suspect anxiety, stress, or medical conditions are contributing to your dog's chewing. They can assist in developing a comprehensive plan that may include behavior modification techniques, training, or medication.

Remember, while genetics can influence behavior, they are not the main cause of aggression. A proper diet, exercise, and a suitable environment are key to managing your dog's behavior. Socialization and training are also vital tips to reduce dog aggression.

Effective Training Techniques to Curb Chewing

Effective Training Techniques to Curb Chewing

Teaching 'Leave It' and 'Drop It' Commands

Mastering the 'leave it' and 'drop it' commands is crucial for your dog's safety and your peace of mind. These commands are essential for preventing your dog from chewing on dangerous items or destroying valuables. Start by introducing the command with a toy and reward your dog with a treat when they comply. With consistency and patience, your dog will learn to respond promptly.

Consistent training not only addresses chewing behavior but also strengthens the bond with your dog. It's a game of patience and positive reinforcement, where your dog learns to make the right choices.

Here are the steps to teach these commands effectively:

  1. Begin with a toy your dog is interested in.
  2. Give the command 'leave it' or 'drop it' in a firm tone.
  3. When your dog releases the toy, immediately reward them with a treat.
  4. Repeat this process daily, gradually increasing the difficulty by introducing more tempting items.

Remember, the key to success lies in regular practice and making the training sessions enjoyable for your dog. By doing so, you'll not only curb unwanted chewing but also enhance your dog's obedience and responsiveness.

Positive Reinforcement and Rewards

Incorporating positive reinforcement in dog training is a powerful method to shape your dog's behavior. When your dog successfully follows the 'leave it' or 'drop it' command and opts for their toys instead of household items, immediate rewards are crucial. Offer them something they value, such as treats, praise, toys, or playtime, to reinforce the behavior.

  • Reward your dog with a treat or verbal praise when they chew on appropriate items.
  • Consistently use positive reinforcement to strengthen good habits and the bond with your pet.
  • Supervise your dog closely and react promptly with a firm 'no' if they chew on something inappropriate, then redirect them to a suitable toy.
Consistent training paired with positive reinforcement is key to effectively managing your dog's chewing behavior. It's essential to catch them in the act and immediately reward the correct behavior to create a clear association.

Remember, the goal is to make the right choices more rewarding for your dog than the destructive ones. By doing so, you're not only preventing unwanted chewing but also fostering a trusting and positive relationship with your furry friend.

Consistency in Training

Achieving success in curbing your dog's chewing habits hinges on consistent training and supervision. It's crucial to catch your dog in the act of inappropriate chewing to correct the behavior immediately. A firm 'no' followed by removing the item and offering an appropriate chew toy can effectively redirect their attention. Praise and treats should accompany the correct behavior to reinforce the positive action.

Practicing commands like 'leave it' should become a part of your daily routine. Here's a simple step-by-step guide to reinforce this command:

  1. Give your dog one of their toys.
  2. Command 'leave'.
  3. If they drop the toy, reward them with a treat.
  4. Repeat this process daily to solidify the behavior.

Remember, patience and perseverance are essential. Most dogs will eventually understand what is expected of them with regular practice. As they grow older, their tendency to pick up and chew everything in sight typically diminishes.

Redirecting the Urge to Chew

Redirecting the Urge to Chew

Choosing Appropriate Chew Toys

Selecting the right chew toys for your dog is crucial in redirecting their chewing behavior. Choose toys made of durable materials that are safe for your dog to chew on. It's important to introduce a variety of textures and shapes to maintain your dog's interest and ensure they are satisfied with their options.

When introducing new chew toys, encourage your dog by praising and rewarding them for engaging with the toys. This positive reinforcement helps your dog associate the toys with good behavior.

Remember, providing a range of chew toys can prevent your dog from turning to inappropriate items to satisfy their chewing instinct.

Chew toys not only offer a safe outlet for your dog's natural chewing tendencies but also contribute to their oral health. Chewing on toys can help scrape off plaque and stimulate the production of saliva, which has digestive benefits.

Here are some tips for choosing chew toys:

  • Look for toys that can withstand your dog's bite force.
  • Avoid toys with small parts that can be swallowed or choked on.
  • Rotate toys to keep your dog's interest.
  • Monitor your dog's interaction with new toys to ensure safety.

Redirecting from Inappropriate Items

When your dog takes an interest in something they shouldn't, redirecting their attention is crucial. Begin by firmly saying 'no' or 'leave it', then immediately offer them an appropriate chew toy. Once they engage with the toy, praise them to reinforce the positive behavior. This process not only prevents damage to your belongings but also teaches your dog what is acceptable to chew.

  • Identify the item your dog is chewing.
  • Firmly command your dog to 'leave it'.
  • Quickly offer an alternative chew toy.
  • Praise your dog for making the right choice.
Consistency is key in training. Always have a chew toy at hand to ensure a successful redirection from the inappropriate item.

Remember, patience and repetition are essential. Dogs learn through consistent reinforcement, so it's important to repeat this process every time they go for something they shouldn't. Over time, your dog will learn to seek out their toys instead of your household items.

Creating a Chew-Friendly Environment

To foster a chew-friendly environment, it's essential to provide your dog with a variety of appropriate chew toys and safe bones. These items not only satisfy your dog's natural chewing instincts but also contribute to better oral health by scraping off plaque.

  • Ensure that chew toys are easily accessible to your dog at all times.
  • Rotate toys regularly to maintain your dog's interest.
  • Use homemade anti-chew sprays on off-limit items to discourage unwanted chewing.

Creating a tranquil space for your dog can also help manage chewing behavior. A designated quiet area, away from the hustle and bustle of the household, allows your dog to relax and enjoy their chew toys without distractions. Consistency in training and routine can further reinforce good chewing habits.

By strategically placing chew toys and using deterrents, you can redirect your dog's chewing tendencies towards appropriate items, thus protecting your belongings and ensuring a peaceful home environment.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation as Preventive Measures

Exercise and Mental Stimulation as Preventive Measures

The Importance of Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is not only essential for your dog's physical health but also plays a crucial role in managing their chewing behavior. A tired dog is less likely to seek out inappropriate items to chew as they will be more inclined to rest and recover from their activities. It's important to tailor your dog's exercise regimen to their specific needs, which can vary greatly depending on their breed and individual energy levels.

  • Match your dog's exercise schedule to their natural energy level.
  • Ensure daily walks, playtime, or runs in the park for physical exercise.
  • Provide mental stimulation through puzzle toys, interactive games, or training sessions.
Keeping your dog busy with both physical and mental activities is key to preventing unwanted chewing. A well-exercised dog is a content dog, and less likely to engage in destructive behaviors out of boredom or excess energy.

Interactive Playtime and Mental Challenges

Providing your dog with a variety of interactive playtime and mental challenges is essential for their overall well-being. Puzzle toys, training sessions, and games not only keep your pet engaged but also help in preventing boredom and cognitive decline. A well-stimulated dog is less likely to seek out inappropriate items to chew on as they find satisfaction in the activities you provide.

  • Puzzle toys that require problem-solving
  • Training sessions that reinforce commands
  • Interactive games that involve both pet and owner
Consistent mental stimulation through these activities ensures that your dog's cognitive needs are met, reducing the likelihood of destructive chewing behaviors.

Remember, the goal is to keep your dog's mind as active as their body. Dogs with high energy levels, like Border Collies or Jack Russels, may need an hour of activity twice a day. This not only helps in managing their chewing habits but also aids in alleviating anxiety, which can be a contributing factor to excessive chewing.

DIY Home Remedies for Dog Chewing

When it comes to managing your dog's chewing habits, DIY home remedies can be both effective and economical. One popular solution is creating a homemade anti-chew spray. These sprays can be made with various ingredients that are unpleasant to your dog's sense of taste or smell, deterring them from gnawing on household items.

The key to success with DIY sprays is finding the right combination that your dog dislikes, but is still safe for them. Always ensure that the ingredients used are non-toxic to dogs.

Here are some simple recipes you can try at home:

  • Bitter Apple Spray: A classic choice that many dog owners swear by.
  • Lemon Solution: A bitter spray that can double as a fresh scent for your home.
  • Citrus Solutions: Utilizing the natural bitterness of citrus fruits.
  • Hot Spices & Citronella Oil: For dogs with a more resilient palate, adding a bit of heat might do the trick.

Remember to test these sprays in a small area first to ensure they do not damage your furniture or other items. Additionally, while these home remedies can be helpful, they should be used in conjunction with other strategies, such as providing appropriate chew toys and increasing exercise, to address the underlying causes of destructive chewing.

Lifestyle Changes to Support Chewing Management

Lifestyle Changes to Support Chewing Management

Establishing a Routine

Creating a consistent routine is crucial for managing your dog's chewing behavior. Dogs thrive on routine, which helps them understand what is expected of them and when. A structured daily schedule for feeding, exercise, playtime, and rest can significantly reduce anxiety and boredom, which are often triggers for destructive chewing.

  • Feeding: Set specific times for meals to regulate your dog's digestion and energy levels.
  • Exercise: Tailor the amount and intensity of exercise to your dog's breed and individual needs.
  • Playtime: Engage in regular interactive play sessions to satisfy your dog's social and mental stimulation needs.
  • Quiet Time: Establish periods of calm to encourage relaxation and discourage hyperactivity.
By adhering to a routine, you not only prevent bad habits from forming but also promote the development of good behaviors. This consistency is key in teaching your dog what is acceptable and what is not, making it easier to manage their chewing tendencies.

Introducing a Doggy Door

Installing a doggy door can be a strategic move to manage your dog's chewing behavior, especially if they tend to gnaw on door frames as a signal of their desire to go outside. Before proceeding, ensure that your yard is secure to prevent any potential escape or safety issues.

When considering a doggy door, it's important to address any existing damage. Repairing chewed door frames can be straightforward, but it's crucial to first remove your dog's access to the area to avoid repeat incidents.

Here are steps to fix a chewed door frame:

  1. Restrict your dog's access to the damaged door.
  2. Assess the extent of the damage to determine if repair or replacement is needed.
  3. For minor damage, sanding and refinishing may suffice; for more severe cases, replacing the trim might be necessary.

Remember, a doggy door is not just a solution but also a preventive measure. It allows your dog to self-regulate their indoor-outdoor movement, potentially reducing anxiety and the associated destructive behaviors.

Other Home Remedies for Chewing

In addition to the structured approaches to managing your dog's chewing habits, there are a variety of home remedies that can be employed to deter unwanted gnawing. Bitter apple spray is a well-known and effective homemade deterrent. It's simple to make and can be applied to objects that you want to protect from your dog's teeth. The unpleasant taste is usually enough to discourage most dogs from continuing to chew.

Another effective solution is a mixture of apple cider vinegar and white vinegar. This natural concoction can be sprayed on items to create an unappealing environment for your dog's chewing adventures. Remember, it's important to test these sprays on a small area first to ensure they do not damage the material.

While these remedies can be helpful, it's crucial to address the root of the chewing behavior. Incorporate mental challenges for dogs and ensure they have tailored exercises, especially if they have specific conditions. Maintaining socialization in mature dogs is also key to preventing destructive habits.

Experimenting with different homemade sprays may be necessary to find the one that your dog responds to best. Here's a simple recipe to get you started:

  • 2 parts apple cider vinegar
  • 1 part white vinegar

Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and apply to the desired areas. As with any home remedy, monitor your dog's reaction and adjust the formula as needed.


In conclusion, training your dog to stop chewing everything in sight requires understanding the reasons behind the behavior, providing appropriate chew toys, and engaging in consistent training with positive reinforcement. Remember, chewing is a natural instinct for dogs, so redirecting this behavior rather than trying to eliminate it is key. Exercise, mental stimulation, and home remedies can also play a role in curbing unwanted chewing. With patience and the right strategies, you can help your dog learn to chew on appropriate items and protect your belongings from their curious mouths. Implementing these tips should lead to a happier, healthier relationship with your furry friend and a more intact home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my dog chewing everything?

Dogs chew for various reasons including their natural instinct, teething discomfort, boredom, anxiety, stress, or lack of training. Understanding the underlying cause is crucial for addressing the behavior.

How can I stop my dog from destructive chewing?

To stop destructive chewing, provide regular exercise and mental stimulation, teach commands like 'leave it' and 'drop it', use positive reinforcement, and redirect chewing to appropriate toys.

What are some effective training techniques to curb my dog's chewing?

Effective training techniques include consistent use of commands such as 'leave it' and 'drop it', rewarding your dog for chewing appropriate items, and maintaining a routine to prevent boredom.

How do I redirect my dog's urge to chew?

Redirect your dog's urge to chew by offering suitable chew toys, promptly redirecting them from inappropriate items, and creating an environment where they have access to chew-friendly options.

What lifestyle changes can help manage my dog's chewing?

Lifestyle changes like establishing a daily routine, introducing a doggy door for easy outdoor access, and using home remedies like anti-chew sprays can help manage your dog's chewing behavior.

Can DIY home remedies be effective for dog chewing?

Yes, DIY home remedies such as cayenne pepper spray or other anti-chew solutions can deter chewing. However, they should be used in conjunction with training and addressing the root cause of chewing.


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