You know all too well that heart-sinking feeling when you find bits of our favorite shoe, shirt or scarf scattered around the home. Yes, Lucky got bored while you were out. The important thing to remember here is that Lucky isn’t messing with you. He just likes to chew and your shoe was there.
Put all of your clothes out of reach. If necessary, put the linen basket on a raised surface or in a locked room. When getting a dog to stop a certain behavior, removing the temptation should always be the first step.
Provide plenty of alternate chewing outlets. It’s natural for dogs to chew, especially for puppies aged around 6 months. Put down a range of chews toys of varying size and texture to alleviate boredom. Leave them there for an hour or so, then collect them up. While you do want to alleviate boredom, it’s essential that your dog learns that you are the one who controls access to toys, they aren’t a constant theme of his existence.
Monitor your dog. If he sneaks off, go see where he went. Dogs can be determined and inventive, so he may have figured out how to bypass your attempts to restrict his access to the clothes. Did you leave that Chanel scarf in your bag? Until he is trained not to chew clothes, supervision is essential.
Take a chew toy in your hand and play with your dog. Encourage him to embrace the chew and take it in his mouth. Praise him when he does. This process makes your dog build positive associations with the toys.
Put an old shirt or scarf on the floor. Place a chew toy close by. Call the dog over and begin playing with him. Lavish him with fuss and praise as you do. If he shows an interest in the clothes on the floor, immediately remove the praise and fuss. This is called negative punishment. Instead of punishing him, you take away an existing reward. With sufficient repetition, your dog will learn to naturally favor the chew toy over the clothes.
Recreate the toy and clothes scenario, but observe from a distance. Don’t say anything to encourage him to go for the toy. Call his name, clap your hands or stamp your feet if he shows an interest in the clothing. This will distract him.
Continue to observe him. Verbally praise him as soon as he picks up the toy and distract him with noise if he goes for the scarf.