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.


Dog Behavior and Your Habits

Dog Behavior: Your Addicting Habits Can Cause Dog Problems

Most of us have habits with our dogs to which we never give a second thought. Most times there’s never a problem. However, some of our habits with our dogs can create dog behavior problems and we don’t even realize we are at the root cause.

Let’s take a look at what creates a habit.

First there is a cue, something that triggers your brain to go into automatic mode. Each habit has a specific cue that triggers you to do a routine. And finally there is the reward that consistently feeds back information to you (your brain) if the routine is worthwhile repeating.

Before you start thinking this is a science class, let’s take a closer look at habits so that you will better see how your habit can affect your dog.

The example is eating a meal, specifically dinner. You eat dinner and your habit is always having something sweet after dinner. Eating your dinner cues your brain to expect something sweet after dinner. The routine is having something sweet after dinner. The reward is that sweets taste good and it gives us a lot of pleasure. We want to repeat that over and over again. That’s how a habit gets set into place. The cue produces a routine and the reward follows the routine.

Now let’s take that explanation and let me give you an example of a habit you could have with your dog that could be creating dog behavior problems.

Your cute puppy jumps on the couch (cue) and you immediately begin petting your dog which is the routine that happens every time your dog gets on the couch. That gives you that warm fuzzy that wonderful feeling that says, “Oh, my dog loves me!” (reward.) I know this sounds familiar. And because it feels so good you are very, very likely to do that again and again and again…….there’s your habit.

Trick Question


Dog Behavior and Your Habits


Here’s the trick question: Is that a good habit or a bad habit. I know what you’re thinking, “It feels good so it must be a good habit, right?” Well, yes and no.

The “yes and no” answer.

The “yes” answer says: Yes, petting my dog feels good so it must be a good habit.

The “no” answer is the qualifier and says: No, it’s only a good habit if done in moderation, just like eating ice cream. Too much dessert can cause serious weight gain and lead to diabetes and other health problems.

If you constantly dote on your dog, to an extreme, every single day, it can lead to consequences that will be difficult to reverse. It can cause your dog to become insecure and miss you terribly when you’re gone creating separation anxiety. It can also create house soiling in insecure dogs.

Aggression in dogs, nuisance barking and a host of other unwanted behaviors can also develop in dogs that receive too much unearned love and affection. Additionally in these households I usually find little to no consistent structure. The dog is running the show.

The Solution

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Moderation is the key in doling out your love and affection to your dog. Here are some helpful tips to think about as you notice your dog coming up and nudging your hand or arm:

1. Always require your dog to sit before you pet your dog.
2. Don’t feel as if you have to pet your dog every time he comes over to you and requests to be petted. Send him away and call him back a few minutes later.
3. Keep your dog off the couch for a few minutes (dog leashed with foot on leash) before you invite him up.
4. When you finally invite him up, require a sit first.
5. Once on the couch, don’t let him in your lap. Require him to sit by your side.
6. Balance time on the couch with equal required time off the couch.

In summary

Patterned routines or activities that you do with your dog every single day can become healthy habits too. These daily patterned routines become predictable. Your dog learns to count on them every day. Knowing what’s going to happen and when it will occur every day will lower your dog’s stress.

If you actually feed, walk, train and play with your dog at the same time every day, you might be surprised at how less stressed you dog becomes. These are good habits to get into with your dog.

If you recognize a habit that seems like a good habit at the time, look a little closer. See if you can tell if your dog is developing a behavior problem because of a habit you are doing.

Then modify your habit that will allow you to turn a seemingly good habit into a great habit. Example: Always sit before petting and pet in moderation. And remember, habits never really go away so once you modify your habit, be consistent. The old habit is still there, etched in your brain. If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself in the old habit allowing the dog behavior problem to easily surface again raising its ugly head.

Thanks for letting me share my dog training knowledge with you. I truly hope you found some things to think about.  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 puppy 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. 

His 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.


Happy Ending For Family’s Dog Biting Problem With 9-Month-Old Puppy

Puppy Biting Family Members


Some time ago I received a call from a client who was concerned about her 9-month-old puppy biting family members and friends.  There had been a couple of instances where this had occurred.

On my first visit I was to meet with both the husband and the wife – and the dog of course. But when I arrived at their home for our session, the wife was home and the husband was on the way home from the office. So I asked her to put her pup on a leash, unlock the door and I would let myself in while she focused on controlling her dog.

 A Lunging, Barking Growling Puppy Ready to Bite

I was met immediately with lunging, barking and growling by their dog that was fortunately held at bay by the wife. We sat across the room from each other as I began to click and treat the dog without making direct eye contact with him.   You could begin to see a definite shift in his attitude towards me. Within the next 5 minutes the husband got home and we started the session.

The Biting, Rowdy Puppy Has Not Been Taught Any Manners or Rules

  • A detailed evaluation revealed that there was no structure in the home for the dog:
  • He was not required to do much of anything except get petted by the owners – especially the wife.
  • The dog also shared their bed with them at night, placing himself square in the middle of the bed.
  • He gets a fair amount of exercise with walks but he lunges at people passing by.

He does attend a doggie day camp several times a week as well where he is great with the people once he is at doggie day camp— which is on neutral territory with no owners present.

I  Noticed a Lot Missing in the Way of Balancing the Relationship with their Biting Puppy

I immediately had them put their dog on a learn-to-earn program.

Every single thing he wanted he had to earn it by doing sits and downs.

This began to set a strong foundation of leadership, thereby giving him a better understanding of who’s doing what for whom while at the same time providing him with a function in the group.

Now it was Time to Address the Problem of the Biting

I wanted to be able to show the relevance of the unbridled love and affection the wife had poured onto this pup

 I had them tether him to the stair banister with his 6’ leash.

When we did this, he pulled fully extending the leash trying to get to Mom!

I had her stand just about 1 foot further away from him.

I let her know that I was going to come up and hug her.

When I hugged her, he lunged, growled and barked.

I then had her husband take her place and I approached him giving him a hug with no reaction from the dog.

A Big Reason They Had A Biting Dog Was Now Very Clear

  • In addition to putting their dog on the earn-to-learn program I also suggested:
  • For a few weeks, the wife throttle way back on her involvement with the dog so that the husband could then start feeding, training and exercising the dog.
  • She, on the other hand, was to only interact when she had to feed if her husband was working late and couldn’t feed.
  • The idea was to balance the owner-dog relationship more by prioritizing the husband’s role of leader and later bring her back into the picture with new rules about her relationship with her dog.

It has taken about 10 weeks of consistent work on this program as well as bringing family members and friends back into the home to complete the behavior modification exercises. I love happy endings and am delighted that this has turned out beautifully.

(C) Jim Burwell 2010