When dealing with chewing problems at our Austin dog training center, the first thing we do is screen the dog for separation anxiety. We want to know if the dog vocalizes, drools, pants, paces, and barks when the owner is gone. If so, how long does the dog do this for? Does the dog chew on things like shoes and book sor is the dog targeting the areas where the owner left from, such as chewing on door frames, window sills, or window blinds? Does the dog urinate or defecate when teh owner is gone?Does the dog injure itself trying to follw the owner? If the dog is chewing on household items and does not display the other signs above, most likely, the behavior is driven by boredom or the dog's inate need to exercise its jaw! Follow these steps to help get your dog's chewing problem under control:
1. Prevent your dog from making chewing mistakes by finding an appropriate confinement area for your dog and making sure he does not have access to inappropriate chewing items like shoes, phone, etc. If your dog can't get to your shoes or phone, he does not have the chance to practice a bad chewing habit. We have our Austin dog training clients either crate train their dog or teach the dog to stay calmly in one room of the house that has been doggy proofed and gated off from the rest of the house. An alternative is to build an outdoor kennel run with shade, a bucket of water, and cool areas to lie on such as garden stone or a cooling bed (never give your dog full run of the yard when left alone outdoors - always build a separate kennel space).
2. Provide a variety of appropriate chew toys. Invest in at least 5-10 different types of chew toys and rotate them on a weekly basis . A few favorites of ours at our Austin dog training center are the Kong, Nylabones, Bully Sticks, and Busy Buddy bones but ask your veterinarian which chew toys are right for your dog.
3. Teach your dog to make good chewing choices by offering rewards/praise when they make the right choice. This lets your dog know he is doing the right thing. Remember, dogs repeat behaviors that are reinforced. If your dog chews on things when you're home, try baby gating your dog into the same room with you or keeping your dog on a leash with you around the house for a few weeks. If your dog is in another room chewing on a table leg and you don't redirect it to an appropriate chew toy, there is no way your dog can learn!
Tina Zarate, Austin Dog Trainer, Buddy's Chance, LLC