I Have A Destructive Dog - Jim Burwell's Petiquette

A destructive dog can push you to the edge and even off the edge in some cases.

For the dog, it can be a way to relieve stress. For you it’s just “one more thing”

Chewing, for your dog, is an enjoyable behavior. But that enjoyment cause a ton of damage to your furniture, walls, carpet, and shoes. It becomes a frustrating and continuous problem for you.

How To Fix A Destructive Dog's Chewing

Before you lose your mind, let me toss you a few bones in the way of tips, to solve your destructive dog chewing problem.

But first let’s have a look at some of the reasons for chewing.  If you find the root cause of your dog’s chewing problem, it might provide you with an eye-opening solution for your destructive dog. You might not need that home improvement loan after all.

Reasons to Chew

Medical problems: Always rule out medical problems as a reason to chew. Some diseases can cause excessive hunger or the eating of non-food items.
Gum and dental disease can sometimes cause chewing to relieve the discomfort.

Teething puppies may chew stuff because it’s there.  Everything is a chew toy to your puppy until he’s trained to tell the difference.

Inconsistent feeding routines: A hungry dog may become anxious when his mealtime is late and begin chewing.

Barrier frustration: Many dogs confined for long periods of time get stressed. They get anxious then chew on cabinets, doors or other things of yours to relieve that frustration.

Fearfulness: If your dog is thunder phobic or afraid of loud noises he can chew to relieve his stress. Doors, door jams, window trim and walls are all fair game if they are available.

Social isolation or boredom: Isolation for long periods of time in the back yard or in the house is difficult.

Not knowing when you are coming home can add to your dog’s frustration.

Not knowing when he gets to go walk (especially with you), train and play can create a boring life for your dog. Knowing when it will happen every day creates happy anticipation.

Attention-seeking behavior: That’s right. Some dogs will take your stuff and chew on it just to get your attention or get you to do something with him. Even if the attention he finally gets is a correction, often times he’ll accept that over “nothing at all.”

Investigative digging: That’s right! Your dog picks up a scent and starts digging. It could be digging in the backyard or digging in your sofa for that peanut you dropped between the cushions. Oops!

The Fix

Medical reasons aside there are many things you can do to fix the destructive behavior of chewing or digging. You already know that you should have begun long, long ago which would have prevented the problems in the first place.

Let’s take a look at your check list of things you should be doing

A Strong Foundation

Leadership is good: Put your dog on a learn-to-earn program where everything he could want from you he must earn by doing at least a sit.

He should earn his food, attention from you, access to your furniture, his toys, going for a walk and putting his leash on to go for that walk.

He should also sit before going in and out doors. Add to this list as you think of other things.
Obedience training: Do rapid-fire sits and downs three times daily but just for 2 minutes. You will see amazing results in a week or two from this alone.

Exercise: Walk your dog twice daily for 20 minutes. If you can’t do two walks, then do one walk every day, 7 days a week and try to do it at the same time every day including weekends. Being able to predict when walks happen is important to your dog.

The chewing problem: Stock up on legal chew toys for your dog. Nothing fluffy with squeakers. Get him Kong toys to stuff, Buster Cubes or Bob-a-Lot toys. Card board boxes and empty plastic water bottles are good as well as long as you are there to supervise his activities with these. Get him addicted to playing with these toys. When you are not able to supervise your dog, confine your dog with these toys.

Once he knows what’s legal for him to chew, he’s played with them long enough, you can he gets full access to your home with supervision.

Catch any attempt to chew a table leg or couch cushion before his teeth are on it. Redirect him to his toys and praise him for taking the legal toy.

In other words, get your dog to chew “his” legal chew toys whether you are home or not.

How? Simple:
1. Make his toys more attractive, more interesting than your stuff. (learn to stuff them so that he can’t resist them and change the stuffing all the time);
2. Don’t give him any other choices (supervise when you are home/confine when you are gone); and
3. Play with him with his toys.
If you have a difficult dog, don’t feed him his food all at once in a bowl. That’s way too easy. Instead, put his food in a Buster Cube or other food dispensing toy, that tastes better than a table leg.

Together We Can Raise A Happy and Obedient Dog

Jim Burwell, is Houston’s most respected dog trainer for 30 years, serving over 11,000 clients. Jim takes the science of dog training and shows you how to make it work with your family and dog. He gives you the ability to get the same great behavior from your dog.