Sunday, February 18, 2007

Advice About Dogs Chewing Furniture.

Dogs can chew out of boredom, lack of exercise, to relieve stress, when teething, or just because it feels good. If your dog has begun to chew furniture, this presents a problem as it is costly to repair the items, plus it is unhealthy for the dog. Chewing inedible objects or Pica can also be the sign of a nutritional deficiency, so carefully reading the label of the dog food you are using and consulting with a vet may help the situation.

Understanding why the dog is chewing is important. If your vet has indicated it is not a nutritional issue, the remaining choices are lack of exercise, stress or separation anxiety, or habit.

Lack of exercise:

Exercise the dog prior to leaving it alone. While this seems obvious, it does take more planning and time. If you have to be away from the home for long periods could the dog possibly be left outside in a fenced yard or dog run, or could a neighbour or friend come over and walk the dog or let it out in the yard for a run. Sometimes a companion pet will help this problem, but it is not always a practical solution based on the breed of dog or the size of the environment.

Stress or separation anxiety:

If your dog chews due to this condition try starting out leaving for very short periods of time, and then immediately returning to get your dog used to being by alone at times. It is important to be aware of the reasons for your dogs anxiety chewing. Give the dog a chew toy before you step out of the house or room. Praise your dog for not chewing furniture, and leave lots of chew toys for the dog. Praise and reward the dog for chewing on the right thing. Gradually increase the amount of time you are away. Play with the dog with the chew toy, as this will be an object that will have your scent on it, and it will help with the anxiety.

Crate training may also provide some comfort to dogs that exhibit separation anxiety and stress. The area around the crate is seen like the dogs den, and often making this area very comfortable for the dog will help it understand that you will be back, and that they are safe here.

Separation anxiety training guides:

Habit or it just tastes good
Again, provide appropriate chew items and remove any other items that are leather or otherwise "tasty" for the dog. If the items can't be removed spray with a commercial no-chew spray to make them smell and taste bad. These sprays cannot be detected by the human nose, but are repelling for dogs. Reward your dog for chewing on the toys that were left and leaving the furniture alone.

If your dog tends to chew on fabric items or pillows, avoid providing chew toys that are plush or fabric, as this may inadvertently give them the wrong message. Likewise avoid leather chew items if the dog chews leather items. Never allow a dog or puppy to chew on old shoes or clothing items, as they can't distinguish between the old sneakers and the Gucci loafers.

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