Not my shoes… again! – Chewing

Sep 23 2011

Not my shoes… again! – Chewing


Dog Chewing ShoesChewing, the favorite activity for many dogs and the bane of many owners existence – what to do!? Well, we have several suggestions that can help but first lets understand your dogs motivation.

Why do dogs chew? Well this can be answered by another question. Why do they breath? Because they have too! Dogs are “hardwired” to do certain things, not unlike us. This means they just have to do certain things and chewing is one of them. So know going in, you will NEVER stop a dog from chewing. However, with patience, following some basic rules and being consistent you can have any dog chewing on what you want in no time!

First lets dispel some common myths.

  1. First, every dog comes to your house seeing EVERYTHING in it as something that can and should be chewed on.
  2. They do not chew up your favorite things out of spite or revenge. They do it because they are readily available. I personally think our “favorite” things get picked on more because:
    • We remember them more so it seems like they get chewed the most, and…
    • Well, they smell like us! So in a round about way, it is really a compliment from our four legged family members; they were thinking about us!
  3. No amount of yelling, threatening a dog with the object or other corrective behavior will stop them from chewing on a specific thing(s). Dogs have to chew, and if you correct them with the object, they will simply start hiding when they chew!

So what do we do? There are some important rules to follow and know going in; the more consistent you are, the faster things will change! So lets look at some things to rewire our dogs into chewing what we want, not what they want!

  1. Every owner with a dog that actively chews should immediately go out and get a “taste deterrent” product. At Tails Up Paws Down, we have exclusively used Bitter Apple for a decade now with success. However there are many options available so talk over options with the great staff at your local PET SUPPLIES “PLUS” store!
  2. Get the dog to understand that the bad tasting spray tastes bad… It should work when you spray it on something, right? WRONG! Dogs taste buds are not located where humans are. All of our taste buds are in our mouth. Pop in a piece of chocolate, and we immediately taste chocolate. Dogs taste buds are all way down in their throat so if something is in their mouth and saliva doesn’t get the taste in their throat, they have never tasted it. So we have to do something one time in order for them to “get it”. This will sound harsh, I know, but I have done this to hundreds of dogs, and in no more then a minute or so, they will shake their heads and maybe drool a little. Once they stop doing this, show them the bottle, and let them sniff it… They will have the same reaction, but to a lesser degree.
  3. The reason they will react is because a dog’s sense of smell and taste are linked. If they know what something tastes and smells like, they will “taste it” by simply smelling it and it will produce the same effect before they can ever get their mouth on it!
  4. Make sure to follow the guidelines on the bottle- don’t use on wood (old white mens roll on deodorant works great on wood!), color test on important fabrics, etc. Then SPRAY AWAY! Have a dog that chews on the leash on walks- spray it! Have a dog that nips at kids pant legs- spray it! One TUPD client even lightly dapped it on their oldest dogs ears by spraying on a cotton ball and lightly applying!

Know that this alone will not save your stuff! You can’t spray the whole house (Gallon jugs of Bitter Apple, folks?). So you have to remember to train your dog to chew on what you want them too. So how do we do this? Lets put a few simple steps to work-

  1. Don’t yell at a dog for chewing on a pair of your favorite shoes if you gave them the last pair they destroyed as a toy…. Dogs are not, never will be, smart enough to understand one pair of shoes is allowed, and one isn’t, so avoid giving your dogs any chew things that resemble things you don’t want them to chew on. (not to mention that a dog could choke on a piece of a shoe)
  2. Recognize that your the person, and they are the dog… We know that, right? Then, why do we continue to allow dogs to chew our stuff?… That’s right we LET them do it! How do you say? Well, remember your entire home is a chew toy to them. Knowing this, if you do not supervise them and allow them to eat your new pair of designer jeans, who is at fault? So, instead of saying “bad dog, why did you do that,” say to yourself, “Bad owner, why did I allow you to have access to chew on that”! Any dog that is a notorious chewer, or even only chews inappropriately on occasion, should be crated when not supervised.
  3. Have LOTS of things your dog can chew on! This doesn’t mean one bone, one rope toy and a squeaky toy! Chewing is entertainment (and stress reducing) to your dog. Would you want to watch the same episode of CSI every night for 3 months? Neither do your dogs! Make sure you have plenty of Nylabones, Deer Antlers, or other long lasting durable toys for them. Make sure to occasionally rotate their access to different toys. Dogs are like kids, if they haven’t seen a toy in a few weeks it is immediately cool again!
  4. When you catch your dog chewing on something inappropriate, first recognize how you got here. What did YOU do to let that happen? Next, trade the object they have for something yummier, like a Healthy Sam’s Yams (dehydrated sweet potatoes! Great for dogs health and something they like for it’s natural sweetness), a Nylabone, a Kong with a little peanut butter in it, etc. What will EVENTUALLY happen is the dog will go for something not exceptable… Realize your going to give them the Nylabone anyhow and instead of going for the inappropriate item they will “cut out the middle man (you)” and go for something they can chew on uninterrupted.
  5. Manage, Manage, Manage! Make sure to keep the dogs options of inappropriate things to a minimum. This may mean confining them with you when you watch TV by leashing them to your couch, putting them in their crate, etc. It also means don’t leave your shoes out! Once your dogs goes several months and doesn’t chew anything bad, they will forget those objects are chewable, and being creatures of habit, they will habitually go to the things you have given them to chew on.

If you follow these guidelines, you and your little wrecking machine should become a happy, healthy partnership that agree upon what is acceptable to chew on in no time.

Notes:
Have a dog that can’t be crated due to fear, lack of socialization, etc? Contact a dog trainer that does positive training to show you some counter conditioning exercise’s to have your pup LOVING their crate in no time!


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