How to Handle a Dog That Chews

Chewing is normal for most puppies, but it doesn't have to be a destructive habit.

Chewing is normal for most puppies, but it doesn't have to be a destructive habit.

Chewing is a natural behavior for all dogs, young and old. Puppies may chew to ease teething pain, while older dogs often pick up chewing out of boredom or to burn off excessive energy. Normal chewing patterns should be stopped before they become destructive bad habits.

Pick up any loose objects that your dog might chew on. Shoes, children’s toys and clothing are fair game in your dog’s eyes, and she won’t hesitate to chew on anything within her reach. Move houseplants to tall shelves, and keep electrical cords off the ground.

Treat objects that can’t be moved with deterrent spray. Deterrent sprays are extremely bitter and add an unpleasant taste to stationary objects such as carpet and furniture. Test the spray on a small, hidden section of the item to make sure it doesn’t stain before coating the entire surface.

Provide the dog with a wide array of chew toys. Dogs enjoy a variety of different chewing surfaces, so incorporate soft toys, rope toys, and firm plastic toys to keep the dog from getting bored. If you catch the dog chewing something inappropriate, tell her, “No chew” and replace the bad item with one of her own toys.

Give a teething puppy ice cubes to soothe gum pain. Ice slightly numbs the gums, reducing the puppy’s drive to chew on your things. If she is reluctant to chew on ice, dip a clean rag in water and place it in the freezer. Observe the puppy carefully as she chews on the rag, and toss it out when it becomes worn.

Crate your dog when you are unable to closely monitor her behavior. Dogs often chew while their owners are gone, and crating removes her ability to chew on inappropriate items while you’re gone. Give her plenty of toys to keep her busy until you return home.

Items you will need

  • Deterrent spray
  • Chew toys
  • Ice cubes
  • Crate


  • Swap old toys for new ones every few weeks to stave off boredom.
  • If you’re going to be gone for more than three or four hours, hire a dog sitter to let your dog out. She will burn off energy and that will alleviate the desire to chew.


  • Don’t give your dog cooked bones. They can fragment as the dog chews and cause serious internal injuries.

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About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.

Photo Credits

  • black labrador puppy chewing image by Scott Slattery from Fotolia.com