Dogs become beloved family members in no time if we shower our love and care towards them. They are loyal, friendly, playful, and even caring.
One of the many things that every dog-residing home has in common is the presence of scratch and chew marks on different items around the house. Namely, the furniture. The act of chewing can be an important albeit destructive activity for any dog. The age to do so can range from very young to even older dogs, depending on how much training they have received through the years.
On the other hand, it can also damage the owner’s belongings, especially those recently bought tables, and chairs. Therefore, it would be a good idea to discipline one’s dog effectively but lovingly.
Why do Dogs Chew Objects?
The sensory organs of dogs are highly active, especially when they are exposed to a new environment. Exploring with their mouths is just another medium through which they deduce things about their surroundings. For puppies, chewing can be a way to relieve their sore gums as a result of incoming teeth. However, chewing in older dogs can be a reflection of several situations they may be experiencing. It can range from their own form of dental care to the mental state they are in at present.
Here is a short rundown about the reasons why dogs chew on furniture:
Understanding What Chewing Means
As is the case with children, puppies also experience teething as young ones. This can be an uncomfortable experience, to say the least. Puppies are generally born after a gestation period of 68 days without any teeth. The first little tooth nubs appear at around 3-4 weeks since their birth. These sets of teeth are named deciduous or puppy teeth. Although the teeth are quite quick to appear, they take around 3 to 5 months to receive a full set of these puppy teeth.
Therefore, these three to five months comprise the time during which the puppy will most likely chew on everything in sight. In addition to the wooden legs of the sofa, puppies are also drawn to their owner’s own extremities like fingers and toes. Older dogs tend to be more complex to understand as the act of gnawing at furniture can mean several things. These include:
It may come as a surprise to some, but dogs can feel bored just like every other person. Dogs that experience boredom are much more likely to give in to their natural instincts like nipping and so on in comparison with dogs that receive their fair share of entertainment. The feelings of boredom and loneliness can develop in dogs that are confined in the home for too long.
One may tend to forget that dogs were not accustomed to sitting at home not too long ago and waiting for their human companions to come home. They had specific duties like transport and so on. Although it has been some decades since dogs were perceived as part of a workforce, it is an intrinsic aspect present in them still. This is especially the case with dogs like Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and more.
In addition to chewing furniture, a few signs of bored dogs may include:
- Hyperactivity and excessive jumping
- Barking and making noises
- Destructive behavior
- Excessive digging in the yard or sifting through trash.
Therefore, dogs must be exposed to certain stimulation daily. This can be done by a few techniques, as one will see further.
- Teeth Cleaning
Dogs have a natural way of keeping their teeth healthy and strong and have been doing so since the beginning of time. The common representation of a dog with a bone in its mouth probably comes from its need to ensure healthy teeth. Dogs tend to chew on hard objects like bones and furniture as a means of preventing irritation in their gums and cleaning their teeth. However, to combat this, one can feed them special treats known as “dental treats” that would reduce the chance of bad teeth and irritation.
Dogs are just as susceptible to feeling anxiety as their human counterparts. And rightly so, these dogs can go through a lot in their lifetime, especially dogs that were previously rescued. However, the most common form of anxiety is separation anxiety. This feeling develops in dogs whose owners may not be very present or just puppies that are in places that are unfamiliar to them.
Dogs that feel separation anxiety can result in destructive behavior like chewing furniture or scratching at it as well. In fact, many owners tend to think that these kinds of dogs require more training instead of dealing with the dog’s medical issues.
The main causes that lead to separation anxiety have a lot to do with their owners. Dogs may also view their owners as the end-all and be-all of their universe. In other words, they place their owners at the center of their lives. This, although very flattering, can be hard on the dog. This is because when the dog is not near its owner, it can feel very empty and anxious.
However, separation anxiety is not merely due to an obsession that the dog has with its owner. Dogs are affected by drastic life changes as well. For example, if their owners are staying out for longer, moving to a new place, or just decreasing the time they get to spend with their owner in general.
Since this is a medical problem, one must know about the different signs of anxiety:
- Coprophagia or eating their own feces
- Pupils are dilated
- Excessive jumping and hyperactivity
- Scratching walls
- Not eating
- Excessive barking
- Increase in salivation and drooling
- Defecating and passing urine in the home
- Increased and almost unhealthy attachment to the owner.
- Barks or reacts when their owner reaches for the dog or their keys to go out.
Therefore, it is safe to say that dogs are very social animals. During this time, it is essential that the dog feels secure. This can be with a toy or a particular corner of the house where they feel secure. In addition to this, it would be advisable to carry out the following actions:
- Since these dogs will be more aggressive, it is essential that they are not shouted at. Dogs cannot really determine why their owners would be shouting at them, especially when they are feeling anxious. If they are in a barking fit, the owner must simply help them calm down using various methods specific to their pet.
- The only way to overcome this is to impart training to the dog. A common method to show disapproval towards the behavior that the owner may not like. In this case, the owner can show their disapproval by sternly voicing a command like Quiet down! In place of something more explicit to the dog.
- The training may be more strenuous for puppies and increasingly so if they were previously rescued and placed in shelters. The usual sit, “paw,” and other training exercises that an owner gives to a puppy should also extend to preventing separation anxiety.
An owner can accomplish this by:
- Leaving the puppy alone for a brief period during the day
- Ensure that the puppy has a routine or some sort of structure to their day.
- Avoid very greetings that involve a lot of excitement.
- Ignore attention-seeking signs early on.
- Upon leaving the puppy, make sure to show them their favorite toys and so on.
- Refrain from dragging out goodbyes and a higher degree of affection before leaving.
Tips to Stop Dogs From Chewing Furniture
To overcome the above problems, an owner would have to learn to train the dog through the following ways:
- Keeping Items away from reach
Dog proofing is probably the most cost-effective method of ensuring the safety of one’s belongings. However, this will only apply to smaller items that can be kept at a height. Therefore, furniture is still out of the question. But it still must be said that stopping dogs from chewing furniture also prevents other things from entering their gullets.
This can be especially true for items that could potentially result in an emergency trip to the vet hospital. Detergents and repellents for common pesticides should not be present in a region that is accessible.
- Pest Repellents
Another effective method to discourage a pet from feasting on furniture is to spread a layer of repellant on the available furniture to one’s dog. However, the more appropriate term, in this case, would be a pet deterrent. Dogs are sensitive to smells and even colors. Therefore, these deterrents will act as a source of unfavorable odor that may deter the dog from gnawing on the furniture. There are store-bought and synthetic options that one can invest in.
One such example is the Keep Off! Spray that is available. This deterrent is the closest thing to natural as it is made from an ingredient found in citrus fruits. However, there are concerns over whether some deterrents are safe for dogs. In fact, owners may be hesitant to try any artificial deterrent. If this is the case, that does not mean one’s pets will get better and the furniture. Rather, an individual can opt for an all-natural and safer option as well.
As per this deterrent, one has to add a significant amount of water. The volume that it occupies will dictate how much of the other ingredients have to be added. Note down this volume before moving on to the next step. For every one and a half cup of water that is added, one can add 20 drops of a citrus-containing fruit like oranges or lemons. Essential oils will also do the trick in this case. Finally, the last ingredient is a dash or two tablespoons of acetic acid (vinegar) to the mixture. This can be sprayed on the rigid portion of the furniture, but one has to take care before spraying it on the fabric regions.
These deterrents can release a smell that dogs do not favor. Therefore, they would refrain from going close to the areas that possess this smell. The best part about using these sprays is that they are non-intrusive and will not smell too strong.
Owners can also use aluminum sheets to train their dogs, especially puppies. According to this method, one simply needs to,
Exercise can be a great and surefire way to keep both the pet and its owner healthy as well as fight boredom. Running around the yard or just around the block will tire the dog out before it is time to go home again. This can also be a good time for the owner to make a newborn or new pet more secure about their surroundings.
Spending around 45 to 60 minutes outside can make a dog’s life indoors much more bearable. Mixing in some toys like a ball or a Frisbee can make this evening outing much more enjoyable. The amount of exercise may also depend on how old they are and even what breed. One can read through this article to determine the right amount of time for exercise.
- Dog Toys
This is a no-brainer as dogs love toys. Toys can be a suitable replacement for furniture as they are almost indestructible. These toys are also a safer option than sticks or other natural objects since they do not release fibers after being chewed. This can also help to add a bit of excitement into their lives as it is a new item.
The types of toys also greatly influence how effective the training will be. For example, offering them household items like a bowl or a sock may confuse them instead of the usual silicone toys. Some toys serve several purposes in addition to entertaining them. For example, some owners can spread toothpaste across the surface of some toys which have grooves. When the dog gnaws at it, the toothpaste reaches the teeth, thus saving the teeth from painful cavities and a trip to the vet.
- Screen Time
When it is a snowy day or rainy, gloomy weather, one can consider switching on the TV and allowing their pets to watch some dog themed shows. Shows catering to dogs accomplish the same things as that of a toddler watching their favorite cartoons. It can engage the dogs for a while, thus stimulating them visually at least. Channels like National Geographic and other channels will also do the trick in this case. This can also be a medium through which dogs will be able to learn “good” pet habits. That is, some streaming platforms cater only to dogs like Dog TV.
Dogs also enjoy a change of scenery once in a while. Taking them along for a ride or a trip to an open space will greatly appreciate them. A bonus outing would also be a trip to a dog park where they would get to interact with other dogs. Dogs need socialization just as much as humans do (at least most humans). Playing with other dogs may also help them to learn new behavior and develop better.
Old habits die hard, and it is pretty much the same for dogs. The owners that are already plagued by torn and fraying shoes, thanks to their pets, should consider the simple but effective act of trading. In fact, the chances are that the dog may just be in search of food when they find their owner’s belongings instead.
In this case, one can display a treat of their dog’s preference and trade it for the shoe. Some owners offer bones, treats for teething, or toys. This will help the dog to understand that the trade-off is worth it and stay away from household items in the future.
- Playtime and Meals
Dogs’ toys are now more innovative than ever. They are made of some of the most resilient materials to prevent fibers from entering the dog’s mouth. It is also designed in a manner in which owners can add toothpaste or even food inside the toy. For example, some toys have special feeders that can make meals much more interesting while also stimulating the pet. Welcome, Puzzle Feeders!
Although this may imply that dogs are solving some Rubik cube-like puzzle, it, unfortunately, is not so. This ingenious invention requires a dog or even cats to eat from an irregularly shaped plate to attain access to their food. Therefore, the dog is much more excited to eat and requires some basic to advanced level interaction before eating their treats.
- Pet Cameras
Like baby monitors, one can even invest in pet cameras around the house that allows the owners to relay instructions even when they are not at home. The camera allows real-time transmission. Thus, the owner can ensure that their pet is not wreaking havoc at home. In case they are, the camera also has built-in speakers to hear an owner’s instructions.
Train Against Chewing
Training a dog can be challenging when one is trying to do it the right way. The primary reason is that training a dog would mean preventing them from doing activities that are ingrained in their identities as dogs. In addition to this, the use of verbal punishments may seem like a more effective option but may do more harm than good. Consider training a puppy or an older dog to stop chewing furniture.
- The Timing of Correcting a Pet is Crucial
According to dog psychologists (yes, those are real), the timing of correcting a pet is crucial. If an owner decides to correct them verbally after they have found chewed-up furniture, it would be too late. The dog being unable to understand what they are really being scolded for, will instead be afraid. The dog may even hide from its owners or have dejected postures that reflect its state of being. Thus, the dog may continue to do the same or act out in other ways, which could worsen.
- The Right Time to Scold a Dog
The right time to scold a dog in an attempt to stop dogs from chewing furniture would be to catch them in the act. If the owner happens to witness such an act, they can show their disapproval in a way that the dog will understand. Thus, the owner will be able to eradicate the unwanted behavior while also maintaining their furniture. In addition to the verbal scolding, the owner should ensure that they use this opportunity to show their pet what can be chewed.
This will involve replacing the aforementioned furniture leg with their chew toy. However, ensure that they still find joy in their chew toy. In case they do not, they will continue to feast on the furniture.
Dogs always do things for a reason. Be it a lack of training or even abandonment issues; dogs will be able to reflect these feelings in the only way they know, chewing on furniture. Thus, it is the duty of the owner to correctly determine why the dog may be feeling the way they are and doing the things they are doing.
In case they require training, the owner can either do it themselves or hire out a trainer for a while. In both cases, the owner should ensure that they are not making the dog more uncomfortable than they already are. Therefore, raising a dog can be a learning curve for both the dog and its owners.