Monday, May 19, 2014

Destructive Chewing

Given that I've just been back visiting puppies for the weekend I thought it'd be fitting to make this week's post about how to stop, or at least lower the frequency of unwanted chewing behaviors. The general approaches to resolving this unwanted behavior include bitter apple spray (or an equivalent), taking away options and replacing them with toys, and hiding all items that might be chewed. Note that many dogs chew to relieve issues with their situation and environment so it may be worth looking into when and why your dog is chewing.

According to Easy Dog Training the top 3 reasons for chewing are 

  1. Natural desire to chew. Dogs naturally explore the world with their mouths; thus, chewing for them is innately fun, stimulating, and self-rewarding (especially if chewing on something tasty).
  2. Nervousness, loneliness, or boredom. Dogs use chewing as an emotional outlet. Dog chewing makes up for a good pastime and is also soothing or comforting especially for anxious dogs.
  3. Lack of exercise. Under-exercised dogs are more likely to chew as a way of burning up all their pent-up energy.
The bitter apple spray approach occasionally doesn't work because some dogs don't care about the bad taste, but for the rest it's wonderful at providing classical conditioning which pairs chewing with a bad taste. Replacing whatever the dog is chewing with a toy or otherwise interrupting the dog to do something else is great at forcing the dog to think about something else. 

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