A question most frequently asked by new puppy guardians is ‘when will my puppy stop chewing everything?’ I have covered several articles on this topic. In my article on Puppy Stages, I have discussed what new pet parents can expect in their pet’s first year. In that, I have skimmed the topic of chewing. Later, in my guide on ‘How to stop your puppy from biting’ I have discussed some tips and products you can use to stop this unwanted behavior. In today’s article, I will be talking about chewing deterrent tactics for young and old dogs. We will also cover the reasons why an older dog starts chewing suddenly. Following that, we will consider a few ‘stop your dog from chewing furniture’ home remedies that might also come in handy.
Puppy’s destructive chewing
Many people believe that puppies eventually outgrow chewing at some point or other. However, even dogs as old as 24 weeks are known to have chewed up slippers, ottoman, kitchen chair legs, socks, shoes, corners of kitchen cabinets and so on. Such destructive and annoying behavior can cause rifts in families and many refrain from bringing home expensive stuff. It becomes a cause of daily friction between family members when the pet continues to indulge in such destructive behavior.
Symptoms of destructive chewing
All dogs, especially puppies, chew. However, it becomes destructive when your pet chews what it isn’t supposed to chew. Destructive chewing by puppies is known to have destroyed books, expensive rugs, slippers and footwear, socks, bed sheets, furniture and more. Many a puppy has even chewed through walls! Chewing that is destructive is a scream for want of attention. A puppy that is left home alone for long periods of time is bound to chew doorways and exit points. People often think this is destructive chewing but the location and objects of chewing indicate separation anxiety.
Reasons behind puppy’s destructive chewing
Puppies chew for a number of reasons
- Dogs never chew out of spite or because they are mad at you.
- Young puppies chew when they are teething. You will start seeing acceleration in chewing and biting behaviors at the age of 4 months. This is when the pup starts losing baby teeth. Just like human babies, puppy’s gums become sore at this stage. This is a good time to give your pet some chew toys and Kong toys. You can also ask your vet about gel for soothing sore gums. Puppy chewing stage can last anywhere from 3 months to 8 months though it is not uncommon for an older dog to start chewing suddenly. I will discuss reasons why that happen, later in this guide. In the mean time, check out my article on Puppy Chewing Products that can Save Your Clothing and Furniture.
- Chewing usually slows down at the age of 7 months but can start again. This is the age when your pet’s back molars start coming out. So he may chew to relieve sore gums.
- Boredom is a common reason behind puppy destructive chewing. An energetic puppy that has not been exercised enough is bound to chew furniture to get some excitement and even your attention!
- Stress is another common reason behind destructive chewing. Puppies are just like human babies. They can be afraid of thunderstorms, or of being left alone. Chewing helps relieve this stress and takes their mind off it.
- Separation anxiety is another common reason behind puppy chewing stage. Dogs left alone all day can chew up everything in sight. If you plan to leave your pet alone for greater part of the day, you may want to consider pet sitter services or even think about enrolling your pet in day care. Day care and puppy classes are great to help your dog socialize and interact with other pets.
Note that strong destructive dog breeds with intense separation anxiety have been known to chew through their confinements, including windows, doors, fences and even crates! So be careful!
Chewing body parts
Some dogs and puppies also chew their own body parts. Paw chewing is often a sign of allergy. Examine your pet’s paws to check if there is anything stuck in there. If paw chewing and licking gets out of hand, your pet could be allergic to certain foods. Changing the brand of food to hypoallergenic or home cooked food can help. Results will take a few weeks to be seen-so be patient. Another reason behind excess self chewing could be external parasites. Your dog could have flea allergy dermatitis. This can send him into a frenzy of biting itself. Examine your pet for fleas and ticks. Use appropriate flea control like collars, shampoos, powders, sprays etc.
How to stop a dog from chewing everything
It can be highly frustrating for dog owners to come home to find their delicate and expensive furniture destroyed by their pet’s chewing. However, one must remember that nothing is more priceless than your dog, so be patient. Never scold hit or punish your pet. Gentle, positive reinforcement works best.
Here are some steps to stop dog chewing furniture home remedies:
Invest in a crate
Crate training your puppy can save you from many hassles. Puppies love crates-it makes them feel secure and gives them a home-inside-a-home kind of cozy feeling. Buy a crate that is perfect for your particular breed. If the crate is too large, section it off. Add in blankets, chew toys, food, newspapers, etc to make it cozy. Crate training is particularly necessary for dogs who indulge in destructive chewing and are not chewing due to separation anxiety. Confining your pet in its crate can help keep your pet safe. Puppies who chew hard furniture could end up swallowing something dangerous and could even require surgery for removing the object. So crates can save you a lot of these hassles.
Puppy proof your home
Encourage kids and family members to keep away their books, shoes, toys, eyeglasses, remote controls, socks, clothing, linen etc away from puppy’s reach. Create a safe area where your dog is allowed and where he won’t have access to objects to chew. Use baby gates and partitions to prevent access to other areas.
Use positive reinforcement
Never hit, slap, shake or kick puppy for destructive chewing. If you catch them in the act of chewing, squirt some water or vinegar on the object they are chewing. You can also make a loud noise with a whistle, horn, rattling coins in a jar or rapping a newspaper on the floor. This will get your pet’s attention.
Destructive dog breeds – Size does not matter!
When we think of power chewers, we mostly think of Pit Bulls, Rottweiler, German Shepherds etc. However, some power chewers come in tiny packages. Toy breeds are just as capable of destructive chewing as their medium or larger counterparts. So invest in sturdy chew toys based on your pet’s chewing capabilities as against the size. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your tiny toy breed may not be able to handle a wolf-sized chew toy!
Why has my older dog started chewing suddenly?
Pet owners are quick to liken excessive chewing in older dogs to an adolescent acting out. However, if your dog has suddenly started chewing, there could be a deeper unrest or underlying issue. You must first determine the cause: has there been a change in your dog’s routine? What environmental or relationship changes could have triggered this behavior? Frustration, anger, boredom, anxiety, attention seeking can all cause sudden chewing in older dogs. If needed, speak to a dog behavior specialist or your vet to address the problem.