Dogs love to chew, especially when they're puppies. They’ll chew anything if you let them, including furniture. The trick to curbing this is to encourage appropriate chewing. Your dog doesn’t chew furniture to upset you or because he’s bad; he simply doesn’t know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate chewing.
Encourage Appropriate Chewing
Put a chew toy or chew treat down in front of your dog. Wait for him to show an interest in it. As he’s about to take it to his mouth, say “chew.” By timing the command “chew” with his choice to take the object to his mouth, you are building an association in his mind with the action and the command.
Issue verbal praise after 10 seconds of chewing. Say “good boy” in an excited voice and then progress to giving him some physical fuss. This teaches the dog that chewing on the specified object after hearing the command has a positive outcome.
Step back from the dog and issue the chew command again. Wait for him to begin chewing again. Repeat the verbal praise after a further 10 seconds of chewing.
Hold the chew toy or treat during play and use it as a reward. This will help your dog build further positive associations with appropriate chew objects. The trick to stopping him from chewing on furniture is to make chewing on other things much more appealing.
Distract and Reward
Allow your dog to explore the house freely, but observe him from a distance so your presence doesn’t distract him. Keep a chew treat close at hand.
Distract the dog by calling his name if he looks like he’s about to chew, scratch or climb on the furniture. As soon he shows an interest in that table leg or sofa cushion, get his attention with your voice. You can typically tell when a dog is about to chew because he’ll lie on his front with his paws outstretched. Distraction is a very effective way of stopping unwanted behavior because the dog can’t focus on two things at once. With sufficient repetition, your dog will learn that chewing the toys or treats has a positive outcome and will do it out of choice.
Throw the treat to him and issue the “chew” command. After 10 seconds of appropriate chewing, give verbal praise.
Restrict his access to furniture when you aren’t there to supervise. Close doors, use stair gates and crate the dog if you have chosen to use one as part of his general house-training. This acts as an extra safety precaution, rather than as a part of the training.
- Always leave chew toys about for your dog, so he never has to use inappropriate objects to relieve his need to chew.
- Never punish a well dog after the fact. If you discover a chewed-up cushion, you’ve already missed your opportunity to correct unwanted behavior. Your dog won’t make the connection between the act of chewing and the consequence of being punished since there will be a gap between the two events.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.