How to stop your dog chewing your home to shreds

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  • Dogs chew for a variety of reasons – and working out how to stop dogs chewing really depends on why they’re chewing in the first pace. Understanding why they are doing it and being able to distinguish between normal chewing behaviour and chewing caused by stress, anxiety, boredom or pain is important, so that you don’t punish or ignore at the wrong time. Licking and chewing is a normal instinctive behaviour, which can help the dog feel relaxed as it’s calming and releases endorphins – unless the licking or chewing is obsessive. Chewing is natures way of keeping jaws strong, teeth clean and combating boredom.

    Why is my dog chewing?

    Different types of chewing have a range of causes and meanings – and are alleviated or encouraged in different ways.


    This is the most obvious reason that puppies chew. Puppies start losing those little needle teeth around 12 weeks of age and continue teething up until seven months. During this time, they want to chew anything and everything, including toes, feet, hands, slippers, shoes, skirting boards – you name it, they’ll chew it.

    Chewing during this time also helps the removal of puppy teeth and the eruption of the adult set. Puppies also explore the world using their mouths, which is why owners of puppies spend a lot of time with their hands in the puppies’ mouths retrieving flowers and articles that they shouldn’t have.

    If you’re wondering how to help a teething puppy, you can provide him with one of the best teething toys for puppies. You can put carrots in the fridge – these are good to chew and the cold soothes their gums. Nylabones (like this set on Amazon) have a similar effect, while deer antlers are a good source for chewing and enrichment, too.

    If you find your dog is chewing the skirting boards or doors you can use an anti-chew spray or citronella spray on those surfaces to deter them. It is a good idea to swap between a selection of long-lasting dog chews and make even the best dog chew toys more desirable by swapping them on a regular basis. Wood chews that don’t splinter (like this one on Amazon) are available now and work well. If your dog is chewing something he shouldn’t, redirect him to something that he can and make a fuss of him.

    Nylabone Teething Toy at amazon.co.uk
    Soak and freeze the whole bone and cloth of this interactive dog toy for a cool texture with added teething relief. It is flavoured and the flavour won’t wear off.

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    Nylabone Puppy Chew Starter Kit at amazon.co.uk
    Made with a soft, durable material designed specifically for teething puppies who have not formed any adult teeth. The textured bone features soft bristles to help soothe gums and satisfy your puppy’s natural urge to chew

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    Red Deer Antler at amazon.co.uk
    Available in three sizes, this deer antler satisfies the need to chews, keeps teeth strong and clean, reduces tartar and plaque.

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    Simply Natural Bitter Spray at amazon.co.uk
    This essential oil-infused spray tastes bad to pets and leaves a pleasant scent around the home. It’s 100% natural and can be used on soft and hard surfaces —even plants!

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    Destructive chewing

    A lot of my clients complain that their dog is just “naughty and destructive” because “he is annoyed that he’s been left”. Obviously, this couldn’t be further from the truth – never mind the fact that dogs don’t rationalise that way. The vast majority of the time it’s anxiety related – usually separation anxiety. A dog suffering from this will chew anything that smells of you – for example, shoes or sofas – as they find it comforting and it releases dopamine to help calm themselves down.

    Some dogs prefer to be confined to one of the best dog crates – and usually the less room they have to pace about, the better. If you also put blanket over the crate, leave them with a Kong toy (found on Amazon) or lick pad (like this one on Amazon) and something that smells of you, and keep a radio on, generally you have a much happier dog. One of the best dog beds for chewers – just in case – is also a good idea. There are exceptions, however, and rescue dogs can completely meltdown at the crate and being shut in a room due to past trauma or spending a long time in kennels. In these instances, it can be better to allow more space, use the anti-chew spray and give them an old slipper, T-shirt, lick mat and kongs to chew. Drawing blinds and curtains help alongside leaving the TV or radio on. You can also get plug-in pheromone diffusers (like this one on Amazon) to help calm them.

    Kong Classic Toy at amazon.co.uk
    This toy helps satisfy dogs’ instinctual needs and provides mental stimulation. By encouraging healthy play and satisfying instinctual needs, this toy helps solve chewing, separation anxiety, teething, boredom, weight management, crate training, digging and barking.

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    Adaptil Calming Spray at amazon.co.uk
    This spray contains a synthetic copy of the “dog appeasing pheromone”, which a mother naturally releases to calm and reassure her litter.

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    LickiMat Soother at amazon.co.uk
    This mat helps calm and soothe your pet by helping release endorphins by promoting licking.

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    Boredom chewing

    A bored dog will chew furniture, shoes, shred pillows, cushions and unroll your toilet paper – whatever they can find to alleviate their boredom. There is no malice in it – they didn’t chew your favourite shoes because you left them, even if you are working in another room, they did it because they are not enriched.

    Make sure they are walked and have a good run off lead with a ball or frisbee, if they enjoy that kind of play. Give them a selection of dog chew toys to chew on and swap them around often – consider opting for one of the toughest dog chew toys. Frozen chicken wings (they don’t splinter and only need to be avoided when cooked), deer antlers and yak chews (which you can find in our guide to the best natural dog chews), or treat balls all work well. While the best snuffle mats (scent games) and the best dog puzzle toys are another great way to stop boredom chewing.

    Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toys at amazon.co.uk
    Choose from 31 puzzle toys across four levels of difficulty to exercise your dog’s mind and keep him stimulated.

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    Red Deer Antler at amazon.co.uk
    Available in three sizes, this deer antler satisfies the need to chews, keeps teeth strong and clean, reduces tartar and plaque.

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    Lamtwek Snuffle Mat at amazon.co.uk
    Sprinkle food over the mat and allow your dog to find food by sniffing, which develops their forging skills, and slows them down to improve digestion. Comes with two suction cups to keep it still.

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    Attention seeking

    If a dog learns that chewing something that he has pinched is forbidden, such as a TV remote or phone, and he gets a reaction (you chase round like a lunatic after him) then he will do this all the more. I tend to throw something different or clap loudly and ask them to “leave it”, offering something else instead. Squeaky toys are a great distraction from the forbidden object and a good way of getting them to stop what they are doing and look.

    Amazon Basics Carrot Toy at amazon.co.uk
    This soft carrot toy contains four soft rabbits. It’s designed for hide and seek, retrieving and other games that engage a dog’s natural hunting instincts.

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    Ruxan Indestructible Chew Shoe at amazon.co.uk
    The milk flavour and slipper-shaped design attracts attention and keeps them busy chewing something appropriate. It also massages the gums, relieves teething and anxiety.

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    Poor diet

    A lack of nutrients, such as calcium, can lead to chewing plaster on walls. Make sure that your dog has a balanced and varied diet and not the same morning noon and night for his life.

    How to stop dogs chewing once and for all

    Remember, chewing feels really good to a dog and it is how they explore the world. It’s up to you how to teach them to be alone so they don’t chew through anxiety, give them enough mental and physical stimulation to not need to chew out of boredom, and to provide a variety of chews at different times to prevent disinterest. If need be, use a bitter anti-chew spray on surfaces your dog may still be tempted to chew, such as door frames, windowsills and skirting boards. It goes without saying that medications, household cleaning items and anything else hazardous should always be kept out of a dog’s reach.

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