Destructive Chewing in Dogs
Normal Chewing Behavior continued...
- “Dog-proof” your house. Put valuable objects away until you’re confident
that your dog’s chewing behavior is restricted to appropriate items. Keep shoes
and clothing in a closed closest, dirty laundry in a hamper and books on
shelves. Make it easy for your dog to succeed.
- Provide your dog with plenty of his own toys and inedible chew bones. Pay
attention to the types of toys that keep him chewing for long periods of time
and continue to offer those. Try Nylabones®, Greenies®
Smart Chew™ bones, Dental KONGs® and natural bones. It’s
ideal to introduce something new or rotate your dog’s chew toys every couple of
days so that he doesn’t get bored with the same old toys. (Use caution: Only
give your dog natural bones that are sold specifically for chewing. Do not give
him cooked bones, like leftover t-bones or chicken wings, as these can splinter
and seriously injure your dog. Also keep in mind that some intense chewers may
be able to chip small pieces off of natural bones or chip their own teeth while
chewing. If you have concerns about what’s safe to give your dog, speak with
- Offer your dog some edible things to chew, like bully sticks, pig ears,
rawhide bones, pig skin rolls, other natural chews, Dentastix®,
Dentabones® and Nylabone® Healthy Edibles®
bones. Dogs can sometimes choke on edible chews, especially if they bite off
and swallow large hunks. If your dog is inclined to do this, make sure he’s
separated from other dogs when he chews so he can relax. (If he has to chew in
the presence of other dogs, he might feel that he has to compete with them and
try to quickly gulp down edible items.) Also be sure to keep an eye on your dog
whenever he’s working on an edible chew so that you can intervene if he starts
- Identify times of the day when your dog is most likely to chew and give him
a puzzle toy, such as a KONG®, Squirrel Dude™, Twist ‘n
Treat™ or Buster® Cube, filled with something delicious.
You can include some of your dog’s daily ration of food in the toy.
- Discourage chewing inappropriate items by spraying them with chewing
deterrents. When you first use a deterrent, apply a small amount to a piece of
tissue or cotton wool. Gently place it directly in your dog’s mouth. Allow him
to taste it and then spit it out. If your dog finds the taste unpleasant, he
might shake his head, drool or retch. He won’t pick up the piece of tissue or
wool again. Ideally, he will have learned the connection between the taste and
the odor of the deterrent, and he’ll be more likely to avoid chewing items that
smell like it. Spray the deterrent on all objects that you don’t want your dog
to chew. Reapply the deterrent every day for two to four weeks. Some commonly
used deterrents are Grannick’s Bitter Apple® spray or gel,
Veterinarian’s Best® Bitter Cherry Spray, Yuk-2e Anti-Lick Gel,
Bitter YUCK!™ No Chew Spray, Chew Guard® Spray and
Tabasco® sauce. Please realize, however, that successful treatment
for destructive chewing will require more than just the use of deterrents. Dogs
need to learn what they can chew as well as what they can’t chew. Please
see our article, Using Taste
Deterrents, for more information.
- Do your best to supervise your dog during all waking hours until you feel
confident that his chewing behavior is under control. If you see him licking or
chewing an item he shouldn’t, say “Uh-oh,” remove the item from your dog’s
mouth, and insert something that he CAN chew. Then praise him happily. If
you suspect that your dog might react aggressively if you remove an item from
his mouth, please see our Finding Professional
Help article for information about finding a Certified Applied Animal
Behaviorist (CAAB or Associate CAAB), a board-certified veterinary behaviorist
(Dip ACVB) or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) with specialized
training in treating aggression for guidance.
- When you can’t supervise your dog, you must find a way to prevent him from
chewing on inappropriate things in your absence. For example, if you work
during the day, you can leave your dog at home in a confinement area for up to
six hours. Use a crate or put your dog in a small room with the door or a baby
gate closed. (For help with crate training, please see our article, Weekend Crate
Training.) Be sure to remove all things that your dog shouldn’t chew from
his confinement area, and give him a variety of appropriate toys and chew
things to enjoy instead. Keep in mind that if you confine your dog, you’ll need
to give him plenty of exercise and quality time with you when he’s not
- Provide your dog with plenty of physical exercise (playtime with you and
with other dogs) and mental stimulation (training, social visits, etc.). If you
have to leave your dog alone for more than a short period of time, make sure he
gets out for a good play session beforehand.
- To help your dog learn the difference between things he should and
shouldn’t chew, it’s important to avoid confusing him by offering unwanted
household items, like old shoes and discarded cushions. It isn’t fair to expect
your dog to learn that some shoes are okay to chew and others aren’t.
Some puppies and juvenile dogs like to chew dirty underwear. This problem is
most easily resolved by always putting dirty underwear in a closed hamper.
Likewise, some puppies and dogs like to raid the garbage and chew up discarded
sanitary napkins and tampons. This can be very dangerous. If a dog eats a
sanitary item, it can expand while moving through his digestive system. Discard
napkins and tampons in a container that’s inaccessible to your dog. Most young
dogs grow out of these behaviors as they mature.