“To err is human: To forgive, canine.”
In your dog's world, everything is a potential chew toy!
So it's your job to teach your dog what is appropriate to chew on, and what is off limits.
There are a few steps to successful 'chew-breaking':
- Clean up. If your dog doesn't have access to your $100 tennis shoes, then they won't get chewed.
- Limit access. Keep your dog in an area that is free of 'off-limit' items, but also has a variety of appropriate chew toys.
- Interaction! Every time you interact with your dog, use an appropriate chew toy (Kong toy, Nylabone, compressed rawhide, etc.), and make it come alive! Throw it, tug it, squeak it--- do anything you can to make that toy interesting to the dog. This will help him/her become highly fixated on it.
- Bait 'em. Make those chew toys tasty by smearing them with peanut butter, or soaking them in beef or chicken broth.
- Bitter Apple. Spray Bitter Apple on anything you do not want your dog chewing on (try spraying it when your dog isn't watching - this way he/she won't know you did something to it!). It works best if it's sprayed within a few hours. You'll find that your dog will learn quickly when he/she discovers that his favorite 'inappropriate' chew toy now has a very unappealing taste. Consistently done, your dog will leave those items alone.
- Exercise. A tired dog will be far less likely to chew than one who has been cooped up all day.
- Make it easy. Be consistent in everything. You can't expect your dog to succeed if you make it difficult for him/her (like leaving your dog alone in a room with socks on the floor).
- S.R.R. Startle-Redirect-Reward. Your dog is chewing up your underwear, so what do you do? First, startle with a clap, or a loud, "No!". Your dog should stop what he/she is doing and look at you (sometimes like you're crazy). Then redirect his/her attention with an appropriate chew toy, giving it to him/her while taking the inappropriate item away. Finally reward your dog with praise when he/she chews on the toy you presented. Easy, huh?
- Praise! Above all else, praise your dog to no end when he/she is chewing an appropriate item. Let your dog know how wonderful they are that they made the right choice! You can't go overboard with praise; when was the last time you got too much praise for something you did in the right way?
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