After sleeping in on your first day off in weeks, you awaken to find that Daisy ripped apart the very recliner you were about to sit in. She wasn't trying to get back at you for working such long days, rather she was just bored and needed something to do. Some canines surely outgrow that hectic chewing stage, while others are chronic chewers, gnawing on anything they get their paws on, even as adults.
Puppies are notorious for chewing. Your tiny ball of fur chews to soothe her aching gums while her grownup teeth grow in. She'll be teething for about the first six months of her life. Around 7 months old, she'll be an adolescent and chew for different reasons. Much like human toddlers, adolescent dogs have to put everything in their mouths to learn about the environment around them. This curiosity stage of chewing lasts for up to six months, or up until she's about a year old.
Ideally your pooch will outgrow her chewing stage as an adult. Sadly, this isn't always the case. Some breeds are born to chew and will chomp throughout their entire lives. Retrievers, hounds and spaniels are just a few types of dogs that tend to be more mouthy than other breeds. However, breed isn't always a factor. Some canines just like to chew. It's built in to their personality, end of story. Just like you continue to bite your nails as an adult, Daisy wants to chew on things. It's soothing, releases some tension and helps her relax after a stressful day.
How To Fix It
You might not be able to nix that chewing habit all together, but with a little training you'll be able to discourage destructive chewing. When you catch her chowing down on your leather sofa, startle her with a loud "eh" sort of noise. Get her off the sofa, onto her own pooch pillow and put a chew toy in her mouth. Pat her on the head and let her know that this behavior makes you happy.
Bitter-tasting products -- available at the pet store -- are another helpful training tool. These formulas make her favorite chewing spot taste bad. The next time she goes to take a bite of the sofa cushion, she'll quickly learn that it tastes bad and won't want to chew on it anymore.
Prep your house for a dog just like you would for a baby: If you don't want it in her possession, don't leave it out. Close closet doors, put baby locks on your lower cupboards and most importantly, don't let her out of your sight until she learns the house rules.
If Daisy continues to chew on everything, spend more time with her. She's got a lot of bottled-up energy she needs to get out. Take her on two or three small walks throughout the day, sign her up for socialization classes at the pet store or hire a dog walker to take her out when you work long days. She'll burn some of her pent-up energy, lessening her chances of destroying your home.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.