dog chewing

Dog Chewing Solutions

“If my dog chews up another pair of my good shoes, I swear I don’t know what I am going to do!” He’s got all the toys in the world but he still chews my shoes.

Fed up with your dog chewing problem? Have you tried all the “usual” corrections like scolding or spanking your dog? My bets are they’re not working.

The bad thing about using punishment is that you wind up correcting the dog too late because you don’t get to him when he’s chewing. Most likely because the chewing usually takes place when you are gone, right?

If you pay attention to your dog, you’ve most likely discovered that punishing your dog has damaged the relationship you have worked so hard to build.

Then, what exactly will work? 

Before we take a look at what works, I think it’s a good idea to look at why your dog chew in the first place, don’t you?

Why Does My Dog Chew

dog chewing


First, chewing is a natural dog behavior. Puppies and dogs explore with their nose and their mouths. They are very oral. The object of their chewing is even more interesting if your scent is on the object of interest. Unless taught differently, in the eyes of your dog, everything is a chew toy and is fair game for him to chew. 

Chewing is also a great way to relieve stress and tension.  Now you’re thinking, what could my puppy possibly be stressed about? He’s got a great life!

Let me ask you to think about this. Lots of love and affection given to your dog all the time could cause him to miss you terribly when you’re gone. When you leave for work or any outside-the-house activity, your absence is too much to bear. Your dog now becomes very tense.

Somehow, he has to relieve that tension. For him chewing is a perfect outlet for tension relief.  Bingo. You now have a dog chewing problem.

Leadership role is crucial in having a well-balanced dog. Lack of leadership can cause anxiety in your dog and anxiety is handled by your dog in chewing, barking etc. Chewing takes their mind off their anxiety. Being a leader to your dog also means he will obey when you tell him to let go of an object he is not allowed to chew on

When your dog was a puppy you certainly noticed and dealt with their drive to chew on anything. But if your adult dog is now or still chewing your stuff, it can get expensive unless you begin to work on your dog behavior problem.
The key to getting your dog to stop chewing your stuff is to be able to give “well-timed redirects” to him onto appropriate doggie chew toys.

Some tips to remember as you start your corrective program on your dog’s chewing problem

 He has to know the difference between what is okay to chew on because it belongs to him, versus chewing on your stuff, which does not belong to him

Here’s an exercise you can do to help teach him the difference:

  • Get some of your “off limit” items and place them on the floor. 
  • In the middle of your “off limit” items, put something of his he considers “high value.” His rope toy, stuffie, something he adores.
  • When he grabs something of yours and begins to chew, give a simple, non-emotional “No. Off.” 
  • Do not yell. 
  • Take that “off limits” object and substitute your object with something that is OK for him to chew.

“But I’ve done that,” you say. “And it doesn’t work.” I know.

But here’s my secret: Do not make a big fuss over the puppy or dog chewing the wrong thing, but make a big fuss over the puppy or dog chewing the RIGHT thing.

I don’t want you to ever, ever hit a dog for chewing an inappropriate item. First I don’t believe in hitting dogs and second, the more emotion and interest you put on the wrong item, the more interesting it is to the puppy or dog. You’re sending the wrong message.

Give your dog the opportunity to succeed, not fail.

Puppy and dog-proof your house until they learn not to chew your stuff.

If you leave shoes, TV remotes, kid’s toys all over the place before your puppy or dog understands not to touch, then you are continually setting him up to fail and you are consistently promoting learned behavior you do not want.

Make sure that “what you allow your dog to chew on” is interesting. Dry bones will only be fun for so long. A Nylabone is just plain boring. Try a Kong toy that you can stuff with treats or keep a variety of interesting toys and yummy bones for your dog to choose from.

We all have our ways to burn off energy. Chewing is your dog’s way to burn off energy.

Just how are you helping your dog manage his energy?

If you don’t walk your dog and the only way the dog gets rid of his energy is by playing in the back yard or being rowdy in the house then you can expect out of control behavior.

This is a big one! If your dog uses up his energy outside with no one to supervise behavior, the dog does not know that the outside behavior is not OK inside.

Let me say that again. If your dog uses up his energy outside with no one to supervise behavior, the dog does not know that the outside behavior is not OK inside.

Walking is important to your dog because it is a great way to constructively manage his energy AND if you do your walk correctly, a great way to practice your leadership role with him.

Finally, your dog is very much like a child. He has to learn to behave appropriately. Good leadership, patience and setting your dog or puppy up to be successful takes work, but in the long run a lot less work and aggravation than not teaching your dog. Wouldn’t you agree?

So, what did you think? I truly hope you found answers and hope for helping your dog. Don’t be a stranger. I’d love to hear what you think. Please come over to my Facebook page to let me know how this article impacted you and the way you think about training. Are you looking at it a little differently? Remember:

“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

Jim Burwell, Houston dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.

My Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.


8 replies
  1. Jim
    Jim says:

    Manage his energy. You have a working dog that needs to use his brain and his energy. Unless you help him do that he will find other ways to
    satisfy those things

  2. jocelyn
    jocelyn says:

    I have a 9 month old siberian husky and he keeps chewing up our sofas. What can i buy or do to stop this from happening.

  3. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:

    Gary, It appears your dog has separation anxiety. I have many articles about this on the site that you can read. NO punishment

  4. gary
    gary says:

    Our dog is a rescue that seems to have a lot of anxietlty when we leave. He doesn’t ever chew when we r home but when we leave anything goes. Couch wood table rugs anything. We can never catch him in the act. Spreys did not work. Walking everyday but when we leave the house forget it. Don’t know what to do other then give him back to the rescue society. I have had dogs all my life but none r like this dog. I even call him the devil dog.

  5. Jim Burwell
    Jim Burwell says:

    Misha. It could be separation anxiety. My suggestion is you call the office and have me out for another lesson. Without seeing what’s going on, very hard to diagnose Jim

  6. Misha and Yoko
    Misha and Yoko says:

    Hi Jim–Yoko, the Siberian Husky who had private lessons with you last June/July, continues to chew the wrong things. Not items such as shoes, etc…but walls and now my living room chair. She runs up to 3 miles a day or runs for 30 minutes while I ride a bike, has access to a dog door to go outside, and has constant companionship with Lennon the Samoyed. She is gated in the kitchen during the day with Lennon when we are gone but now has resorted to chewing the walls (again). She stopped for a while but is back to it. Not to mention that she chewed up a comforter when I went out one night for dinner and did not gate her in the kitchen. She gets plenty of exercise, we do not make leaving or coming home a big deal, but I can’t sit next to a wall or in my chair and praise her for chewing on her multitude of toys and bones throughout the house. What can I do? Of course this is a form of separation anxiety as it only occurs when we are not home. Although–she did do some chewing when the Nanny was here all day. Is crating her during the day the next thing? She minds very well so the training worked–well she is stubborn and will not do anything immediately on command. We do not repeat ourselves as we know she will take her time to sit or come “here” and we just look at her until she does it. Any thoughts on the chewing would help! I think Yoko has OCPD–Obsessive Chewing Puppy Disorder…….By the way she is now 14 months old. Regards, Misha

  7. Mike
    Mike says:

    Good stuff. I’ve been getting upset with my dog cause I come home from work and he’s usually been chewing on my good running shoes.

    I’ve been yelling at him. Which I feel bad about. I’ll try these and see if they work.

    Thanks for the tips!

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