Rove’s very best advice to help you put an end to the chewing that’s probably driving you nuts!
Unwanted chewing can cost a family so much! And it’s something that I started researching when one of our Family started struggling with it… It’s really tough! And you look at your heartbreakingly adorable puppy and just go “I love you, but why do you have to eat my sofaaaaa” and after a long day at work? It’s really the last thing you could ever want.
In all seriousness it’s tough, and Rove is here to help! So, we’re going to start with the methods, move through to tools and then a few extra little things you could try if the ideas here aren’t enough! There’s a video in here too, so do have a look and let me know what you think.
Method & Considerations!
Firstly, know their trigger! What is causing them stress? Using a camera is a fantastic way of doing this. You can get some phenomenal insight into what your dog does when you’re not there. Once you know that information? You are armed. You are prepared. Because you can only fight what you know and understand it. So, this is your first step always.
Analyse your actions… do you do the same thing every time you leave the house? Separation anxiety can begin from this stage. Did you know that? Interesting, huh? So, if you have a routine? Change it. Or, change when you come in. Leave for 2 mins, come back. Do it at all times of day or night. Change it! Shake it up. Always come through the front door and have back door access? Change that too! There’s all sorts you can do. Even if you put your coat on, have a cup of tea, and then take your coat off. Shake it up!
How do you come back in to your home? Do you spend your whole time when you come back in fussing your dog and making them yearn for you? Reinforcing that they were right for missing you? Don’t! Try ignoring them when you come in until they’re relaxed. If that takes 5 minutes, great! If that takes 20 minutes, fine. Then, when they’re relaxed, give them a relaxed hello! Don’t be hyper yourself either, remember that!
Ditch the bowl! Feed your dog differently. If you want to feed them in the snuffle mat? Or the Lickimat? The Kong? The buffalo horn? Or maybe scatter feed! Scatter feeding is great (though you do need the warmer months, when this is article is published, it might not be the best idea!). Or what about a slow feeder? Make them work for their food!
Do they have their own space? A lot of dogs can get stressed out if they don’t have a space that is exclusively theirs. Whether this is their create, their bed or a specific spot in the house (whether this is a crate, or a bed, or even the utility room, some even have their own bedrooms!), allow it to be theirs, they are undisturbed when they lay down there by you, or by kids, or guests. This is covered wonderfully in Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy by Steve Mann where he discusses how to make a puppy their den in their crate! Remember that crates can also be a good way to stop unwanted chewing. As always in dog training though, set your dog up for success, don’t let them make a bad choice.
Have they been exercised? Exercise is crucial to a well balanced dog! And, normally, a tired dog is a good dog. A well exercised dog will usually settle easier. Burn out that energy! If you don’t have time, get in touch and let’s see what Rove can do to help, just remember there has to be balance or else the below can become an issue too…
Are they Overstimulated? This can also be an issue! Having a lot of toys laying around, having a lot of treats around, walking them too much, or similar can also have a rebellious affect, or not knowing where to focus their attention… and if you give them that option? Sometimes it can result in your dog not knowing where to focus.
Dedicate Time Spend time with your dog. Give them 15 minutes every day (in addition to their walks) build in some obedience training, or some interactive play! A great place to find stuff about interactive play is Tug-E-Nuff’s toys! Use the code ROVEFAMILY to make sure you get any available discounts! You should also look into trying a suitable dog sport! Once a week or so, why not investigate something to enjoy with your dog? Fly ball, hoopers, agility, scent work courses or whatever! It’s a fantastic thing to help you bond!
Most importantly, teach them to settle. This is really important, as part of the routine with any of the toys below (should you use them at home), then please teach them afterwards that they go to bed, and relax. The first time you try that, it probably won’t go well if they’re not used to it, but remember! Patience and consistency! And if you keep it going, when you give them their toy or task, they’ll use it as a wind down, and then relax afterwards… Or at least, that’s the theory! You just have to try and make it work!
Tools For Training
This is the next step! It’s alright to know what is wrong and what you wanna do but how do you encourage them to settle? What weapons are in your arsenal? These are some of my very favourites for one reason or another! Some combination of these will almost certainly help get you and your dog where you’re going.
Kong this is an old staple of all trainers and anyone pursuing enrichment… and there’s a reason for that! They’re easy to throw in the dishwasher and you can freeze them to make them last longer and there are literally hundreds of recipes for Kongs online… If you’re stuck for ideas? Why not check out our Pinterest board for Kong Recipes! Do also remember that they do stronger ones (Xtreme) for stronger chewers, and remember to pick one that is too large to get stuck in your dogs jaws (Lengthways or sideways!)
Buffalo horn Similarly to the Kong, these are great, but I prefer them as they’re entirely natural, they also present a lovely challenge to hold for the dog if you get the end of the horn? It’s always my favourite and Indie’s! It’s actually how I feed Indie every evening. It’s a really nice way to get your dog to engage as opposed to just gulp down their food. They’re good and hard too, so they stand up to most chewers, I’ve never heard of anydog cracking it open really quick, so definitely a great choice!
Snuffle Mat These make me sad that my dog isn’t food orientated! Ugh! If only. But yes! They’re awesome. You can make them yourself, or you can buy one when you pop into Embark on Raw. Pick some small treats (I think even little cubes of cheese would work nicely too!), poke them through the underside, turning it rightside up for your pup to sniff through and check out! As they sniff and snuffle through the felt, they find their treats and are rewarded for their engaging with the toy and their nose work! Sounds good huh? It’s great for nose orientated dogs.
Lickimat these are really interesting! Licking is awesome for dogs, it releases endorphins for them. Endorphins are awesomely powerful as they are very similar to opiods, they induce happiness. So how better to calm a pup down, that by encouraging them to lick and slowly edge them into a wonderful state of relaxation, which is exactly what we want right? Exactly! So let’s harness their natural methods to help them stop tearing up our carpets! Basically, they’re a really shallow little silicon mat with ridges and they’re really useful for paste like those Meatlove make, or with peanut butter! Maybe even your dogs own food?
Hol-ee ball Love love love these! This is what’s in the video above – yes – that’s me… don’t judge me too harshly, I’m not natural on camera, but I’m trying! One of my new favourite things in the whole wide world. If you get some strips of felt and (You can get squares in hobbycraft for 50p a sheet, just cut them into strips). Wrap a treat into one end, and stuff the strip of felt through the hole; easy! Build it up with lots and lots of strips and presto! Give it to your dog (make sure you test this one when you’re home together, please!! Make sure they don’t try and eat the felt) and let them figure out to pull the strips out and get their treats! You can get these from Tug-E-Nuff and remember to use the code ROVEFAMILY as we do occasionally have discounts! They also have some stronger ones for stronger chewers and some in different shapes!
TV & Radio why not leave the radio on? Try and pick something talk show like! Or leave the TV on for some extra stimulation or engagement from your dog. It’s been known to help dogs relax, it’s like background noise for humans too, we all like to feel comfortable in our space.
Walkers or Daycare sometimes breaking up the day is an awesome way to help de-stress your dog, other time? If all of this isn’t enough, why not consider daycare? If they cannot be left home check out your local licensed daycare providers in your area. If you’re stuck for these, give me a shout! Even if you don’t want walks, I can point you in the direction for some awesome licensed providers of daycare!
Phew! Lots of info, right? Loads to work through and some places to work towards…Well, fingers crossed that we’ve just busted your chewing problems, but if you are still stuck? Here’s 3 extra!
Enrichment Facebook Groups Shay Kelly (author also!) runs Canine Enrichment and Diane Kasperowicz runs Beyond The Bowl – Canine Enrichment which are both great places to find all sort of fun and engaging stuff for your dog beyond the basics that I’ve already given here. You can also check out your breed specific places to see if there’s a puzzle or a toy or a task that your breed of dog particularly thrives on.
Beyond the Bowl by Diane Kasperowicz A book (What?! Who reads now?! Bear with me, it’s worth it…) about how to make food more than just dinner time, to engage your dog and create an awesome foundation with your dog! There’s recipes in here, there’s some awesome tips for helping your dog to settle. It’s a lovely book for anyone, whether you’re starting your dogs journey with enrichment or expanding it! Check it out on amazon.
Behaviourists Please please please, if you do decide to spend money on this, please choose an IMDT trainer, there are 17 in Essex, and I can tell you that Nathalie Yates from dogology training is lovely. She runs the Hoopers class I mentioned earlier!
Just please remember! This is all a process, you aren’t going to see changes overnight, but every step here can only help you towards your end goal. Consistency is King in anything dog training, I promise. Stick with it, stay positive!
Enrichment is never a bad thing, even if they’re not a chewer, a lot of these things are great for increasing your dogs general happiness day to day. So, what are you waiting for! Get working on solving your problems! And why not share your story below or on Facebook!