Finding a place in your heart to love your canine companion is awfully challenging when he continuously destroys everything you own. Using bitter apple-tasting spray can help prevent the issue, but you'll have to work on training as well to curb the unwanted behavior.
What is It?
Your neighborhood pet store has an array of bitter apple products that come in sprays and lotions. They're not dangerous for your animal and are not meant to be repellents, rather they're supposed to actually be licked up by your furry friend. Ideally he should learn that the sofa tastes bad so he won't want to chew it anymore. You may have to play around with different formulas of bitter products until you find one that works for your situation. Pick up a couple different types, in case one doesn't work.
Applying the Product
Test out your bitter product as soon as you get home. While Max is outside doing his business, quickly spray a little bitter apple formula to his most common chewing locals -- the arm of the leather sofa, the leg of the coffee table and the corner of your nightstand. When you let him back in, guide him over to his favorite chewing spot and watch him go to work. He'll get a mouthful of something bitter and gross and will want to quickly walk away.
How often you apply the bitter apple spray depends on how many surfaces your dog tends to chew on and how quickly he reacts. Some dogs only need one or two applications to nix the chewing behavior for good, but if you have a chronic chewer on your hands, you might have to apply it several times a day for an extended period of time. In the beginning, apply it a few times per day when Max is out and about in the house. After a few days you can cut back your applications as long as he isn't chewing.
Paying close attention to how Max reacts to bitter apple spray is important. Unfortunately some dogs actually enjoy the flavor and if you go around coating your entire house with bitter apple, you've just made everything taste like candy to him. If Max is licking up all the bitter spray you just applied, you'll need to find an alternative. Head to your pantry and pull out your pepper shaker and hot sauce. Shake a few dashes of pepper on the arm of your sofa and drizzle a little hot sauce on the wooden leg. When Max comes parading over to chew, the pepper will make him sneeze, while the hot sauce will surely be unpleasant for his tongue. Soon he'll be avoiding the sofa all together.
Dogs chew for all kinds of reasons -- it's soothing, lets out some energy and it's quite entertaining for them. Instead of getting angry with Max for gnawing up your entire shoe collection, start getting him more active. Take him on several small walks throughout the day if you don't have time for one long walk. Let him roam around at the dog park or sign him up for a play group at the pet store. Not only will Max be getting some one-on-one time with you, he'll also be getting all of his energy out. By the time he gets home he'll be too pooped to chew.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.