How to Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't

Three Parts:Training Your Dog not to ChewGiving Your Dog Healthy AlternativesPreventing Damage to Your Possessions

Nothing’s more fun than playing with a puppy or dog. Your enthusiasm as an owner can wear thin, however, as soon as your dog starts ruining your possessions with frequent chewing. Luckily, with consistent training and smart decisions on the part of the owners, nearly any dog can be trained not to chew its owners out of house and home.

Part 1
Training Your Dog not to Chew

  1. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 1
    Make sure there are no medical causes of the chewing behavior.[1][2] In some cases, dogs chew as a coping behavior when they suffer from psychological problems (like anxiety). Likewise, if your dog is affected by certain parasites or nutritional deficiencies, it may be compelled to chew all sorts of things. Because of this, consider taking your dog to a veterinarian or animal behaviorist for an expert diagnosis and a suitable treatment plan, especially if the chewing is accompanied by other symptoms, such as weight loss, gastrointestinal problems, or abnormal behavior.
  2. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 2
    Use negative reinforcement to discourage "bad" chewing. To train your dog not to chew, you need to make it understand two basic ideas: first, that chewing certain objects is unacceptable behavior; second, that chewing its own toys is “good.” To discourage your dog from chewing things it shouldn’t, immediately take the object away and scold the dog with a clear command like “No!” or “Bad dog!”[3]
    • If your dog releases the object, give it something appropriate to chew (like a treat or toy) and praise it.
    • If your dog runs away with the object, don’t chase it. Many dogs will interpret this as play behavior, and think of it as a reward.
    • Never hit or beat your dog. Most animal societies recommend against using corporal punishment. Moreover, it can lead to other problem behaviors triggered by anxiety.
    • Don’t scold or punish your dog after the fact.[4] This is ineffective because the dog will not be able to associate the inappropriate action with the negative reinforcement.
  3. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 3
    Use positive reinforcement to encourage "good" chewing.[5] If you find your dog chewing on something appropriate, approach it calmly and give it enthusiastic, happy praise (using phrases like “good boy!”). You can also offer your dog a small treat.
    • Offering praise and treats in this way is positive reinforcement that will encourage good behavior.[6] Pairing the desired action (in this case, chewing appropriately) with praise and food associates the action with feelings of pleasure and satisfaction in the dog’s mind. With consistent training, the good behavior itself becomes its own reward.
  4. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 4
    Use deterrent sprays.[7] Dogs are much less likely to chew on things with tastes that they find unpleasant. Thus, you can discourage your dog from chewing on certain things by rubbing or spraying them with bad-tasting substances.
    • Deterrent sprays in unpleasant flavors like bitter apple are available from pet supply stores.[8] In addition, you can spray a weak solution of a common unpleasant-tasting substance (white vinegar, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, etc.) mixed with water.
    • Always use a non-toxic substance. Never try to deter your dog from chewing with a substance that can cause harm or illness.
    • This technique works best if your dog has a habit of chewing a particular object, or something immobile. For instance, you can spray chair legs with a bitter apple flavor if your dog has a habit of chewing on them.
    • This method is not fool-proof; some dogs will chew even if the item tastes bad.

Part 2
Giving Your Dog Healthy Alternatives

  1. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 5
    Encourage good chewing by providing your dog with toys and treats.[9] If you provide your dog with acceptable things to chew on, it will have fewer incentives to chew inappropriate objects. Make sure that your dog has a supply of toys and treats available to it wherever it goes. That way, whenever it has the urge to chew, you can offer it something appropriate, or it can find something on its own. Good choices include:
    • Rawhide treats
    • Chewing strips
    • Teething rings
    • Ropes
    • Squeaky toys
    • Raw bones (but no raw bones that can be a choking hazard, such as chicken bones)
    • Kong toys (which can be filled with food)[10]
  2. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 6
    Give teething dogs soothing treats. Like human babies, young puppies go through a period of "teething" as their teeth come in. This can lead young dogs to chew incessantly, even when they're otherwise well-trained. To help with teething, try freezing a wet washcloth and giving it to your puppy to soothe the soreness caused by the teeth coming in.[11]
  3. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 7
    Make sure to spend time with your dog.[12] Domestic dogs are social creatures that have evolved to be accustomed to contact with humans as well as with other dogs. If they become bored or are kept from contact with other dogs, some dogs can resort to destructive coping behavior, including chewing. Give your dog a chance to meet and play with other dogs, such as at a dog park.
  4. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 8
    Play with your dog and keep it interested in new things. Dogs don't just want toys; they want fun, happy interactions with the people in their family! Be sure to take the time to play with your dog a little bit every day, especially if it's been chewing. Just twenty minutes or so of play per day can go a long way towards expending a dog's excess energy and calming it down.
    • Lots of play and exercise can tire your dog in a safe and beneficial way so that it doesn’t expend extra energy on inappropriate chewing.[13][14]
    • Dog classes are available in many areas.[15] These are an opportunity for pets and owners to practice together to help a dog learn new tricks or behavior. Keeping your dog active in this way can discourage excessive chewing.

Part 3
Preventing Damage to Your Possessions

  1. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 9
    Keep objects you don’t want your dog chewing out of its reach.[16] Prevention can be the easiest way to stop your dog from chewing inappropriately, so remove its temptations. Place any objects your dog likes to chew (or might chew) out of its reach: in a cabinet, high off the floor, in a bag or box, etc.
    • Objects such as remote controls, shoes, and books are common temptations for dogs that like to chew.
    • Poisonous plants, electrical cords, cleaners, and any other hazardous objects should also be kept out of your dog’s reach.[17]
  2. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 10
    Don’t offer your dog confusing items to chew.[18] Your dog may not understand if you offer it items to chew that are very similar to items you do not want it chewing. For instance, if you offer your dog an old shoe to chew on, it might be confused about why you don’t want it to chew on your new shoes. For the best chance of reducing your dog’s inappropriate chewing behavior (and saving your possessions), and avoid treats and toys that resemble things you don’t want it to chew.
  3. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 11
    Supervise your dog, and keep it separated from things you don’t want it to chew, if necessary.[19] You may notice that your dog resorts to chewing when you are not around. If this is the case, you may consider keeping it confined in a pen, dog crate, or other area while you are gone. You can also use baby gates to keep a dog out of rooms or areas that contain items it is tempted to chew.[20] In addition, you can supervise your dog while you are at home. Even keeping your dog on a leash while you are at home to ensure it doesn’t chew inappropriately can help condition it and encourage positive behavior over time.
  4. Image titled Stop Your Dog from Chewing Things it Shouldn't Step 12
    Teach your dog the "leave it" command.[21] If you're willing to put in a little extra time and effort, it's possible to teach your dog a handy command that can save your possessions in cases where you catch it chewing on them. To teach this command, use the following steps:
    • Get two small treats and hide one in each fist. Get the dog's attention with one treat, then sharply tell your dog, "leave it" (referring to the object it is chewing).
    • Don't let the dog have the treat. Let it sniff and lick at your hand, but don't let the treat go.
    • Ignore your dog if it starts to bark or whine. As soon as it loses interest in your hand, however, offer it the treat from the other hand and give it lavish praise.
    • Repeat this process until your dog moves away from your hand as soon as you say "leave it." This teaches your dog that ignoring whatever it wants to bite or chew on is better than chewing on that thing. Be persistent; do this over and over, and your dog should get the hang of this command.


  • There are many reasons dogs might chew, including boredom, anxiety, teething, to explore, and curiosity.[22][23][24]

Sources and Citations

Show more... (21)

Article Info

Categories: Dog Obedience