Dogs are designed to chew. Unfortunately, this also means that the canine will put its teeth on anything – including your expensive couch or designer chair. In this case, it’s important that you know how to keep dogs from chewing furniture.
Destructive behavior like chewing is commonplace among dogs. It’s more evident in puppies, but many breeds tend to carry this habit throughout adulthood. On the part of the dog owner, this behavioral issue can be frustrating as it can cause expensive damage at home.
Why do dogs chew on furniture?
It can be very frustrating to see your dog chew on furniture incessantly. It’s surely a patience-testing experience for pet owners, but there’s always a workaround that they can try.
But before you can employ these solutions, you first have to understand why your dog is misbehaving in the first place. Here are the common reasons you should check:
When dogs are left alone with nothing to occupy their time, the pooches will always look for something to keep them busy. This includes chewing your furniture, shredding your couch, and even biting through the drywall.
Take note that boredom can branch into a bigger behavioral problem if not addressed right away. You also have to consider the nature of your dog’s breed. Some dogs need more physical and mental stimulation than other breeds to stay happy.
2. Teething stage
Take note that all dogs will undergo a phase when they become obsessed with chewing. This occurs in the first six months of a dog’s life when its sets of teeth begin to erupt.
Such a process is uncomfortable, and to soothe its aching gums, the canine will keep chewing on anything it can find. This includes your furniture, shoes, rugs, toys, and anything it can fit in its mouth.
Don’t worry because the teething stage will be over by the time your pet turns 7 months old. However, you still need to ensure that your dog won’t develop chewing and biting problems later in life.
3. Separation anxiety
Another notorious culprit behind a dog’s affinity for chewing is separation anxiety. About 20% to 40% of dogs suffer from this problem across breeds.
Aside from chewing on furniture, dogs with separation anxiety will also become vocal. They will bark and howl as a way to release their pent-up anxiety.
Hunger can also be a reason why dogs will chew and even try to swallow parts of furniture. This isn’t very common, but it’s something that could happen to some canines.
This is more likely to occur if there are traces of food on your furniture. Also, canines suffering from a condition called Pica may become obsessed with chewing and ingesting furniture material.
5. Being weaned too early
In this case, it’s important to keep the puppies in their mothers’ care for at least 8 weeks. Others will stretch it to 12 weeks to allow the puppy to mingle with its litter. Take note that this phase is very crucial in developing a dog’s different instincts.
Lastly, being weaned early can cause chewing problems in dogs. Canines that have been separated from their mother too early tend to suck on fabrics. It’s because the natural nursing instinct of the dog wasn’t satisfied during puppyhood.
How to keep dogs from chewing furniture
No matter what the reason is, furniture chewing is still a problem that requires immediate intervention. To help you out, the following methods will come in handy:
🐶Limit your dog’s access at home
The first thing you can do to contain your dog’s chewing problem is to limit its access around the house. You can install baby gates to ensure that your pooch won’t be able to target the furniture again.
You can also place your dog in a separate room while you perform the steps below. However, you should ensure that the doggo has toys to keep it busy. Otherwise, it may chew on anything inside the room.
Take note that limiting your dog’s access to the house isn’t just about barricading. You also need to train your dog about the boundaries you set.
For example, if your dog tries to get near the couch, you can say a firm ‘no’. If your dog stops approaching the couch, offer it a treat right away. This will teach your dog that following commands and leaving the furniture alone is a rewarded response.
🐶Make your furniture taste bad
Another way to protect your furniture from destructive dogs is by utilizing aversive methods. This includes spraying bitter apple on the surfaces your dog likes to chew.
With this, your pet will get a foul taste the moment it tries to chew the furniture again. This is very effective and the results are instant.
Don’t worry because bitter apple sprays made for pets are non-toxic and harmless. The only downside is that it may feel sticky on surfaces. Also, I recommend spot-testing first, especially if your furniture has colored fabric or wood treatments.
Aside from bitter apple sprays, you can also use alternatives available at home. For example, other pet owners use lemon juice instead to stop their dogs from biting furniture.
There are some who will resort to chili powder, but it’s something I don’t recommend. While it will help stop the chewing problem, chili powder will also leave a burning sensation in your dog’s mouth.
Dogs chew furniture out of boredom, anxiety, or teething. In these cases, offering an alternative object would be a big help. It will help redirect your dog’s energy toward something more productive. In the long run, your dog will also learn that there are only specific objects that they can chew.
For this part, you should get your dog its own chew toys. Take note that you should never offer home items like socks, slippers, or pillows. Doing this will only defeat the purpose of redirecting your pet’s chewing behavior.
Remember that the goal is to divert your dog’s chewing into an appropriate object. Also, it’s crucial that you don’t send mixed signals by offering household items.
🐶Use artificial pheromones
For dogs suffering from separation anxiety, artificial pheromones are an effective solution. It mimics the smell of a mother canine, which helps calm a nervous dog.
Artificial pheromones are easily available over-the-counter, with Adaptil being the most popular brand.
To make sure that the artificial pheromone will be effective, you should plug it in 24 hours before you allow your dog to roam around the house. This will allow the smell to spread all over the house and stick to the furniture.
Don’t worry because artificial pheromones for dogs are almost odorless for humans. It won’t mess up your home’s smell.
However, it’s important to know that a dog’s response to artificial pheromone varies widely. Some dogs will become extremely calm while others won’t even exhibit any positive effects. It’s all about trying and seeing if the solution works.
🐶Drain your dog’s excess energy
Many dogs tend to channel their excess energy into destructive chewing. To prevent this from happening, you should come up with a schedule for your dog’s physical and mental exercise.
Take note that your dog’s exercise level should be based on its breed. Larger and more energetic dogs often need longer walks and intense playtime than smaller ones.
On the other hand, it’s not just about physical stimulation. It’s also important to exercise your dog’s brain to keep its mind off chewing the furniture.
You can utilize your dog’s playtime sessions to keep it mentally engaged. Games like tug-of-war, fetch, and Frisbee is just some of the excellent options.
If paired with other methods here, ample exercise will yield excellent results in terms of reducing furniture chewing on the part of your pet.
🐶Revisit obedience training
Even if your dog is already trained for obedience, it won’t hurt to brush up with the drills. This is much so if your dog is starting to ignore your commands. Start from the basics and always shower the doggo with treats whenever it does something good.
While basic obedience won’t fully stop your dog from chewing, it will give you a level of control over your pet. Also, it will be your foundation for the next method.
🐶Crate-train your dog
If you still can’t trust your dog not to chew furniture while you’re away, the crate will be your friend. Just remember that crate training is intended to calm the dog, and not as a form of punishment.
The crate will help combat separation anxiety as it mimics the denning nature of canines in the wild. Aside from that, crate training is also an integral step in potty training a puppy.
But for you to achieve this, you have to train your dog properly. Depending on the breed, it takes weeks to months. For better results, you should crate train your dog as early as possible.
Remember that dogs aren’t supposed to be locked up in the crate the whole day. On average, adult dogs should only be in the crate for 8 hours. Smaller dogs should be locked for a much shorter period because they can’t hold their bladder for too long.
Overall, crate training is just one of the solutions to your dog’s chewing problem. You should still perform other methods discussed here for a holistic approach.
🐶Never use punishments!
No matter how expensive the damaged furniture is, you should never punish your dog for chewing it. Physical violence and abuse never yielded anything positive. Worse, it will only fuel further behavioral problems.
The best method to combat any behavioral problems in dogs is positive reinforcement. This works by rewarding good behavior and not punishing bad ones. From there, your dog will develop associations, which can help divert its chewing habits into other objects.
Also, you should keep in mind that some dogs are born chewers. It’s innate in their breed and something that can’t be fully erased by training. In this case, your goal should be to manage it continuously.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Should you punish a dog for chewing furniture?
A: You should never punish a dog for misbehaving, even for chewing your furniture. Physically hurting and shouting at your dog will only trigger more problems. Remember that dogs don’t understand these methods of correction. The best course of action is training with positive reinforcement. The goal here is to teach your dog that negative behavior isn’t rewarded.
Q: What is the most destructive dog breed?
A: All dogs have the tendency to chew on things. However, breeds like Doberman Pinschers, Border Collie, Rottweiler, and Pit Bulls are more likely to get destructive when bored. It’s because these canines were bred to work, so being alone and bored will lead to this behavioral problem.
Q: Do dogs outgrow chewing?
A: Many dogs will outgrow their puppy chewing once the teething phase is over. However, this problem can persist even during adulthood if the dog isn’t trained early on. So while the chewing tendencies of your dog may decrease as it grows older, you shouldn’t put your guard down.
Q: At what age do dogs stop being destructive?
A: There’s no specific age as to when canines stop being destructive. It’s a matter of training a dog out of its destructive habits. Take note that chewing habits during puppyhood can persist through adulthood if left unchecked.
Q: Is chewing calming for dogs?
A: For dogs who are chewing out of anxiety, such a habit is soothing. This coping mechanism is often observed in canines suffering from separation anxiety and other behavioral problems. Since dogs can’t speak, they often express their feelings through vocalizing and chewing. Both of these behaviors can be curbed through proper training and desensitization.
Knowing how to keep dogs from chewing furniture will save you from a lot of trouble and repair expenses. It will also discipline your pet to prevent other behavioral problems from surfacing.
If all your efforts aren’t yielding results, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for professional help. Dog trainers and veterinarians are always the best people to consult.