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How to Stop a Dog from Chewing Furniture

Read Time: 8 minutes

If you're on this page, you already know how destructive chewing can be - it's frustrating!

The combination of management and proper training (which gets to the root of the problem) are your keys to success in eliminating this behavior.

I'm going to tackle those exact subjects as briefly as possible for you in this post, because I know how valuable your time is to you. You want answers - now!

So without further ado:

The first thing I tell my clients at the first training session is: you have to correct the relationship between you and your dog (and between your dogs, if you have multiple). You have to set rules in place that are based in fairness and set the calm tone you want for your household.

This isn't about authoritarianism, but rather celebrating the symbiotic relationship that dogs have with humans. If you don't make it clear to your dog that you will protect them, provide food and shelter, and be a fair and gentle leader, they will disregard almost everything you say (this is often seen in cases where someone's dog only performs in the presence of treats).

How can you get your dog to stop chewing your pillows, shoes or children's toys if they don't value your judgement? This must be fixed first and then you can work on the little problems that come along in training.

My clients are always amazed when I tell them to put a specific set of rules into place and within days (and sometimes within the same day) the majority of their dog's behavior problems and nuisance behaviors decrease drastically.

So what changed? Simply the roles of leadership. Suddenly pet parents are getting the respect they've always wanted from their dog, and the dogs are happier.

I started Pet Lover's Passion because I love it when that "click" happens and people just get it. They see how intelligent their dog is and how they can actually communicate with their dog on a deeper level. It brings me joy to see the dog's reaction too! Suddenly all the signals they've been trying so hard to get across to their people are being heard and I can begin to teach the dogs a more appropriate way to communicate (instead of demand-barking, pawing, nipping, jumping, chewing, etc.).

Now I bet you're curious. ;)

It would take waaay too long to explain everything in this one blog post, and it usually takes multiple in-home training sessions to transfer my knowledge to clients. I also long to help more people find this connection with their dogs, which is why I created the Good Dog Happy Life Blueprint! My online dog training program teaches you how to put the rules into place in your own home, and also tackles all the little problems that I have helped my clients overcome over the years (since 2015).

Every situation is different, which is why I also offer live video group coaching calls in my program so you can get your unique questions answered! I've also created a private community for my members so they can be inspired by each others' success stories and ask questions or get encouragement.

If you're here reading this, I know you're going through some sort of training bump-in-the-road, and I want to help! Check out my program and see if it's right for you. You can even talk to me prior to purchase so you can be sure it will work for your unique training situation.

So now that we've talked about getting to the root of the problem (which you will find in detail inside the program), I want to give you actionable steps to manage the problem right now.

Some dogs may have a natural tendency to chew - more so than others. If your dog is one of those dear souls, take heart, there are things you can do.

You may have already read countless articles of tips and tricks to stop your dog from chewing. Much of that advice is good, but remember: they're just management techniques. You must fix the root cause first, and then those other techniques will be effective. Please, please check out the Good Dog Happy Life Blueprint - I know it will help you!

Once you have corrected the relationship - you have obtained the respected leadership role - you can use the following techniques to stop the unwanted chewing behavior:

Step 1: Redirect.

Too often, I see people make the mistake of scolding their dogs, yet not teaching them what is good and acceptable. Have toys nearby the targeted chewing item (i.e.: the couch pillows) so that when you see him or her chewing, you can step in, take away the item, and redirect their chewing onto one of their chew toys. You have now made it very obvious what is desired of them. However, with this technique you must be careful: if you use a food-filled toy or regularly use toys as rewards, you may accidentally be rewarding your dog for chewing on the furniture. It depends on the situation, so be mindful of what is going on and how your dog may be perceiving your intervention.

Step 2: Body-Blocking.

Simply put, this is you getting between the object and your dog and walking into your dog to create distance between your dog and the object. This is especially useful if the targeted chew-item is the corner of the couch - you can't just pick it up and move it. :)

Your silence speaks louder than your words.

You don't need to say anything this first time. You'll likely find that your dog will go lie down and "huff" or happily chew on their toy instead. If your dog goes back to chewing the object, body-block again. The third time they go back to chewing the object, say "time-out" and take them to the time-out location (which shouldn't be too far away, because we want a consistent "action: consequence" sequence). No other words need to be said, just keep the situation as low-energy as possible. (If this is a hard battle where your dog is persistently going after the item, resort to time-out right away, after one warning/redirect.) I'll explain time-out in a moment.

If, after you let your dog off of time-out, they go back to chewing the item, they should immediately be put back on time-out. Action=Consequence. Make fair rules and stick to them! If you say "you may not chew on that couch", you mean it. Don't allow the behavior to happen anymore. The whole family must enforce these rules consistently, tired or not. It takes work at first, but the results will show quickly with consistency.

What is time-out, and how do you implement it?

Time-out is an excellent tool for every pet parent. It is a great way to interrupt an inappropriate behavior in a non-confrontational way. Dogs don't like to be separated from the action, so if a "bad" behavior consistently gets them on time-out, they will decrease (or stop) the display of said behavior. For many dogs, it only takes one or two time-outs to get the message across. For others (the persistent ones, determined to get their way), it may take days to eliminate a behavior via time-outs.

How-to:

Choose a small, quiet room without windows (such as a bathroom) or a crate may be used*. If using a bathroom, be sure to pick up the trash can and hide the toilet paper. *Do not use a crate if your dog already has a bad association with crates and you're trying to crate-train him or her.

Always put your dog on time-out (i.e.: take them to it), because calling your dog to time-out will poison your "come" cue.

Time-outs can be 30 seconds to 3 minutes, however, never let him or her out when he/she is whining, barking or pawing at the crate door. Letting your dog out while they are doing these things only teaches them that they can get what they want by whining. So once they are calm and quiet, you can let them out to "try again".

Step 3: De-value the item being chewed.

What I mean is: if the item tastes gross, why chew on it? Yes, I'm talking about applying bitter spray. I've recommended this to many clients with great success! With it (in combination with the rules), we've stopped leash-chewing, nipping hands and clothes, chewing shoes, door-frames, children's toys, blankets, pillows, chairs and cushions - you name it!

My favorite spray to use is Fooey! Ultra Bitter Training Spray because it is affordable and is bitter enough for dogs to want to leave something alone when the spray is applied to it. I've never had any problems with the spray staining anything, but it is always recommended to test a small patch before spraying it all over something. The spray is safe to use on humans' and animals' skin, since it is merely an extractive of bitters.

I recommend my clients spray it on their dog's leash for leash-biting dogs, on shoes for the shoe-lovers, and hands and wrists for the over-exuberant jumping-nippers.

If you are one of my clients and I recommended this product to you, please use my Amazon link to buy it. Disclaimer: I am an Amazon Associate and receive commission in this role. Any of the links or banners on this page are associated with my account and your purchase from these links earns me commission. So thank you!

Now, I know I set these up as "Step 1, 2 & 3" but you should really implement them all at once for the greatest success - again, after the leadership role has been established.

As you can see, I'm very detailed and I want the best for my clients. Your success is why I do what I do. I want to see you succeed! I have so much more to share with you, but I have to contain it all within my program to make sure my members get all the information they need, and not just pieces of information, like in this blog post.

Again, I encourage you to check out my program, the Good Dog Happy Life Blueprint so you too can enjoy a close, understanding relationship with your dog. After all, you got your dog for companionship, right?

I'll see you inside!

With Love,

Heather Smith, ABCDT

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