Dogs chewing household objects like furniture, woodwork, and personal belongings is a frustrating and destructive behavior for owners. While puppies naturally teethe and explore with their mouths, excessive chewing in adult dogs often indicates boredom, anxiety, or compulsion issues. With patience and implementing positive training techniques focused on prevention, owners can curb furniture chewing. This guide covers effective solutions tailored to the underlying cause.
Understanding What Prompts Dogs to Chew Furniture
To change chewing habits, you must know what motivates the behavior. Common reasons include:
Teething During Puppyhood
Puppies teethe for around six months, experiencing discomfort. Chewing helps relieve sore gums. Pups don’t comprehend what items are off-limits to nibble.
Separation Anxiety When Left Alone
Dogs suffering from isolation distress may destroy furniture, doors, and belongings due to the overwhelming stress of being left solo.
Some dogs learn that chewing and shredding valuables gets a dramatic owner reaction when they return, even with negative attention.
Boredom from Lack of Mental Stimulation
Brilliant, energetic dogs left alone daily without enrichment sometimes turn to furniture as handy chew outlets.
Repetitive chewing or sucking behaviors may reflect underlying anxiety, OCD, or neurological issues prompting fixations.
Determining the primary cause allows owners to implement tailored management and training strategies to curb furniture chewing in their unique dog.
Serious Problems Caused by Dogs Chewing Furniture
Chewing causes more than just the destruction of household items. Additional issues include:
Expensive Damage and Repair Costs
Replacing chewed-up furniture, shoes, electronics, drywall, wood trim, etc., inflicts a heavy financial toll over time.
Dogs can choke on swallowed splinters or stuffing. Chewed electrical cords pose electrocution risks. Molding with lead-based paint is toxic.
Owner Frustration and Relationship Strains
Constant damage and mess stokes enormous frustration. Some owners regret adopting destructive chewers.
Risks if Dogs Ingest Foreign Objects
Dogs may require emergency surgery to remove swallowed shards of wood, plastic, drywall, clothing, toys, or other inedible items.
Unaddressed furniture chewing poses health hazards, ruins belongings, strains budgets, and damages the human-animal bond. But solutions exist!
Common Chewing Triggers to Avoid
Owners must recognize situations that spark problematic gnawing to prevent the conduct:
Leaving Dogs Unsupervised With Full Home Access
Unfettered access to furniture when home alone all day invites chewing. Prevent rehearsal.
Boredom When Left Alone For Long Work Hours
Lack of stimulation when solitary provokes chewing on belongings as a release. Make their days more exciting.
Insufficient Physical and Mental Exercise
Pent-up energy and boredom lead to destructive chewing. Ensure at least 60 minutes of activity daily.
Changes in Routine or New Environments
Traveling, schedule changes, or introducing new people may stress certain dogs and prompt reactive furniture chewing.
Managing exposure to these common triggers reduces the opportunities dogs have to chew household objects. Prevention is critical alongside training.
Effective Training Techniques to Curb Furniture Chewing
Use the following positive reinforcement-based training strategies to stop destructive chewing:
Manage Access and Supervision
Confine dogs when unsupervised using crates or puppy-proofed rooms to prevent the practice of bad habits. Tether dogs near you when possible.
Meet Enrichment Needs
Ensure bored dogs get adequate exercise, training, playtime, food puzzles, and safe chew toys to satisfy needs and prevent chewing searches.
Reinforce Desirable Chewing
Offer praise, affection, and treats only when dogs chew sanctioned toys. Ignore unwanted nibbling. Reward good choices.
Apply Bitter Anti-Chew Sprays and Furniture Protectants
Bitter apple, ginger, and citrus peel sprays deter chewing. Vinyl nail caps also discourage destruction.
Proper confinement, daily enrichment, and directing chewing urges onto appropriate toys using positive reinforcement modify long-term destructive behaviors.
What Not to Do When Addressing Furniture Chewing
Specific common responses that worsen chewing habits:
Yelling at Dogs After Chewing Incidents
Dogs don’t associate scolding with something they did hours prior. Harsh discipline induces stress that may escalate chewing.
Rubbing Noses in Chewed Objects
This outdated punishment frightens dogs without clarity. They don’t link rubbing to unwanted chewing remotely later.
Using Physical Punishments Like Hitting
Striking dogs suppress unwanted behaviors only temporarily while eroding trust, heightening fear, and damaging bonds.
Banning Dogs From Rooms Without Training
Limiting access should accompany positive reinforcement of desired conduct. Punitive restrictions alone don’t teach good habits.
Stay positive. Correcting long after incidents occur fails to change behaviors. Mild chewing is normal, but destruction requires management and training.
Long-Term Management for Dogs Prone to Chronic Chewing
For destructive chewers requiring extra support:
Confine When Home Alone Until the Behavior Resolves
When owners can’t actively supervise dogs, secure crating prevents the rehearsal of undesirable chewing.
Install Shelves or Barriers to Limit Furniture Access
Gating dogs away from furniture using ex-pens, corners, or walls reduces opportunities to chew while owners are out.
Discuss Medication if Chewing Stems From Anxiety or OCD
Veterinary behaviorists may prescribe anti-anxiety meds or other drugs to help resolve compulsive disorders manifesting as furniture chewing.
Commit to Ongoing Training and Daily Exercise Routines
Prevention and meeting enrichment needs must remain a lifelong commitment to keeping chronic chewers happy and furniture intact.
For some dogs, managing access and exercise while working on training must persist long-term. But staying diligent is worthwhile to avoid surrendered pets.
Special Considerations for Puppies Prone to Chewing
Raise puppies to develop good habits from the start:
Exercise Patience During the Teething Phase
All puppies teethe and chew more as they lose baby teeth around 5-7 months old. This phase passes, so hang in there!
Keep Plenty of Chew Toys Available
Provide an abundance of bully sticks, Kongs, raw hides, and ropes to satisfy sore gums and the need to gnaw.
Redirect Gnawing onto Appropriate Chew Toys
Interrupt any unwanted chewing gently with a redirecting cue like “Nope! Chew this instead,” and replace the wrong item with a designated bone or toy.
Don’t Punish Normal Puppy Mouthing and Teething Behaviors
Puppies explore using their mouths. Yelling or rubbing noses worsens furniture chewing for a long time because puppies don’t understand.
With extra supervision, confinement, and plenty of chew outlets, puppies can be raised into adult dogs that don’t destroy belongings even when left alone.
Summary on Curbing Problematic Furniture Chewing in Dogs
Destructive chewing results from teething needs, boredom, separation anxiety, attention-seeking, lack of exercise, or compulsive disorders. Prevention through confinement, daily enrichment, and removing chewing triggers is vital. Training should reinforce appropriate gnawing targets. Some chronic chewers do require lifetime management. With customized positive solutions and patience, furniture-chewing behaviors in puppies and adult dogs can be resolved.