Dogs chew as part of their natural behavior. Chewing has a soothing effect and can help reduce or eliminate dental pain. Destructive chewing, however, requires redirection, which can often be achieved through natural home remedies.
Why Dogs Chew
Dogs chew to soothe themselves if they are anxious or to entertain themselves when bored. Make sure your pup gets plenty of exercise and human interaction. If he’s a destructive chewer, especially when you’re gone, talk to your vet about the possibility that your dog has separation anxiety. You may be able to alleviate this issue through behavioral training techniques at home. For example, getting your dog used to your departure and the assurance that you’ll return home through trial runs.
Provide Appropriate Chew Toys
If your dog is chewing on inappropriate items such as shoes, books, furniture or other household items, provide him with appropriate chew toys. Nylon or rubber bones are safe and durable and won’t break his teeth. Interactive chews that dispense kibble or other treats can do double duty, providing both entertainment as well as a chewing outlet.
Avoid tempting your dog by keeping palatable chewables out of his reach. Shoes, briefcases and children's toys should all be safely stowed in a place your dog can't get to.
Use Taste Deterrents
Taste deterrents allow you to associate a bad taste with whatever your dog is chewing on. Bitter apple, vinegar and lemon juice generally leave a bad taste in your dog's mouth, and when applied to items, can prohibit chewing.
- Soak a cotton ball in one of the substances and place it in your dog's mouth. He'll likely spit it out, shake his head and be unwilling to put his mouth on anything else that smells or tastes like what he just ingested.
- If your dog doesn't seem to mind the taste, or even worse, likes it, that's a taste deterrent to remove from your list, because it won't work on your dog.
- Coat whatever items you're trying to protect from chewing with the most repellent of the taste deterrents you used. Use a cotton ball or a spray bottle, applying just enough to cover the surface. You may need to reapply it every day for up to a month to stop the chewing behavior.
Use caution when applying home remedies -- some agents can stain or leave a lingering odor that you may find unpalatable. For large-scale objects like furniture, you may prefer a commercial anti-chew deterrent that's especially formulated for fabrics.
Positively Reinforce Good Behavior
Praise your dog when he follows your commands to “not chew” something, or when you find him chewing on appropriate items. Never yell at or hit your dog if he regresses and chews on something inappropriate. Simply take the item away, issue a “no chew” command and replace the items with an acceptable alternative.