Whether you’ve just gotten a new puppy or have an old dog who suddenly thinks he’s a puppy and behaves like one by dog chewing everything around, one thing is certain – it’s always frustrating.
What’s even more frustrating is when you go to the effort of finding the perfect toy for your child and your canine thinks differently! Fortunately, chewing is a problem that can be solved with a little bit of patience, time, and direction.
How to Prevent Discourage Your Dog from Playing with Your Child’s Toy
Catch That Canine in The Act
One of the quickest ways to get a dog to stop chewing on things you don’t wish for him to chew on is to simply catch him red-pawed. Sometimes this requires a bit of sleuthing, and you’ll need to follow your dog around or visit the places he likes to take his newly claimed chew toys several times a day.
Once you do catch him, you should take appropriate steps to correct him quickly and loudly. You do not have to punish your dog physically. If your dog drops or leaves the toy, reward him quickly.
The easiest way to do this is to either carry treats around with you all day or put a hidden cache of treats or dog toys near the areas he likes to chew. Your voice should be enough to stop him immediately. “Drop it!” or “Wrong!” work well, and if you praise him and reward him as soon as he drops it, you will associate those words with praise. Over time, you will be able to tell him to drop things before he even begins chewing.
Exercise and His Own Toy Hoard
Sometimes when a dog chews, it is because they are bored, have some energy to release, or need to be stimulated. Walks are very effective in solving all three of these problems. Walking him yourself will give you a benefit too, but if you are pressed for time, hiring a local neighborhood dog walker will do the trick. You can also encourage your dog and child to play together. For example your toddler could ride a tricycle in the yard with the dog running along besides them. For kids who have outgrown tricycles they can ride one of the top stunt scooters and do tricks with the dog.
A walk a day will keep the chewing away!
After the dog has been walked, make sure he is directed to his own pile of fun and exciting toys. Pick up dog toys on clearance, purchase Goodwill stuffed animals that don’t have any plastic on them, or make toys so that you have an abundance of different shapes, colors, and textures. Then you can rotate the stock regularly so that there’s never a dull moment in your pup’s life!
Make Sure Your Pup Has Very Distinct Chewables
While you do want an excellent variety of toys for your dog, you want to stay away from toys that look, feel, or smell like baby toys. Often, toys meant for dogs look a lot like a baby toy, even if they are hardier and meant to hold up to more chewing, but your dog doesn’t know the difference between his squeaky lamb toy and your toddler’s favorite Lambchop plushie.
An easy way to solve this is to simply ensure your dog’s toys are very obviously dog toys. This means buying a variety of sticks, bones, bully sticks, and twists, dental chews, and flavored rubber bones. These toys aren’t rainbow-colored, but they smell like something yummy, so dogs will naturally gravitate towards them. When you see your dog chewing on one of these toys, praise him. Encourage lots of excitement in these sorts of chews by rotating them regularly and only having one or two available to chew on at a time. Other ideas include frozen peanut butter in a rubber indestructible dog toy, frozen chicken broth cubes, and catnip (you’d be surprised at how many dogs love catnip!).
Play with Your Dog and His Toys
Invest a few dollars in toys that encourage interactive play with your dog. These types of toys include tugs, ball throwers, and frisbees. Not only will this encourage your dog to bond with you and see you as a provider of good things, it will help your dog stretch its learning muscles. When your dog chews on a tug or fetches a frisbee, praise and treat them immediately and go for another round. When you are at home, make sure you incorporate one of the toys that the two of you usually play with into the hoard of rotating toys you have on hand.
When All Else Fails, Bitter Apple Succeeds
There are several commercially available sprays that claim to keep a dog away from any object on which you don’t want them to chew, but personally I have only ever found one effective: bitter apple.
This spray makes even people recoil, and it will often send dogs into sneezing fits. This is a great tool to use in conjunction with the “drop it” command-and-reward step. When you hear your dog go into a sneezing fit, you can move to correct the behavior that got him into trouble.
Whether you train, use a toy hoard, or just make everything taste sour, there are many effective techniques to train a dog and maintain a happy home full of toys and shoes!