When Cooper first entered our home, he was the light of our lives. He was so tiny and fluffy, and because of this, he got away with everything! Soon there were tiny bite marks on everything in the house, including my keys, her keys, my shoes, her shoes, spatulas, cords… really anything the little bear could get into. At the time, I assumed it was because he was teething, and it would soon cease; and to be honest, when I was away for the day and I saw those tiny bite marks, it made me excited to go see Cooper bear when I got home. Over time, these little bite marks have become giant holes in shirts, socks, underwear and especially the heels of shoes. It became no longer cute.
Why does he chew?
Dogs tend to chew because of a few variables:
- Boredom/ not enough attention
- Poor training
Determining why your pup chews will better allow you to solve the problem at hand. If your shoes are eaten when you’re away at work, separation anxiety is often the issue. If you come home from a 10 hour day, make dinner, go work out, and then you’re exhausted by the end of the day, your dog may be bored. It’s important to remember that poor animal behavior is usually indicative of too much energy. This is a relatively easy fix. If your puppy has little tiny teeth coming in, give him ice or a cold chew toy, because he is probably teething. And lastly, chewing with an older dog is often the result of poor training, and your dog simply does not understand what is, or what is not, his to chew. He does not differentiate the difference between his toys and your socks.
What to do when he chews
Regardless of the reason why he tends to chew, you can react in a way that will help resolve the situation, and ultimately can break your pup from this habit.
- Take responsibility: remove all potential targets from the area.
- Don’t confuse him: do not allow your pup to chew on “old” shoes. All shoes, even if you plan to throw them away are a ‘no’.
- Play with him: if you notice that he is starting to chew on things, go on a walk or throw a ball. By making your dog tired, you will prevent restless misbehavior.
- Let him know what is his and what is yours: by showing body language that you do not like him chewing on something that is yours, and offering something that is his (ie: a toy, a toy with a treat in it) in exchange, he will begin to understand what is his and what is yours.
- For puppy owners: if your pup is chewing on something, exchange the object for a cold chew toy, ice or a frozen washcloth.
Do not chase after him. Chasing and running is puppy play, and you don’t want him to associate chewing on your things with a fun game.
Do not correct the action if you do not see the action occurring. By punishing him after the fact, he will associate punishment with the current action he was doing.
Do not become frustrated. By following the above tips and removing objects in the environment that are potentially destructible, you will reduce the unwanted behavior.
Cooper is now one and a half years old, and he no longer chews the backs of my shoes, instead, when we are gone for an extended period of time he pulls all the shoes out of the closet- and leaves them. Is this a warning, that he COULD have eaten them if he so wished? Is it to pass time, because he is bored? All I know is, days when Cooper gets a good hike, a short run, and plenty of cuddles he does not partake in this behavior. The key to success, like any good relationship, is just to spend quality time together.