Why do dogs chew and why do they always seem to choose your best shoes, sunglasses or gloves?

It could be that your young dog is teething, or using his teeth to explore his surroundings. He may be bored, hungry or plain greedy and it could have just become a habit. Your dog will prefer to chew things that smell of you and the rest of the family if he gets the chance as they are familiar to him, so keep precious things out of his way as much as possible.

Your dog may chew inappropriate things when you are away from home because he is afraid of being left alone and is suffering from separation anxiety. If you have identified that this is the reason then please refer to the article which deals with Separation Anxiety.

Your dog could perhaps be chewing because he is hungry and if this is so, check carefully and ensure you are feeding him the correct amount of food for his age and size.

Make sure you dog gets plenty of exercise to reduce potential boredom. Also a tired happy dog is more likely to sleep than to chew your table legs!

Whatever the reason for the chewing, it really helps to catch your dog in the act of chewing something unsuitable. If he’s left it mangled on the lawn, however upset and cross you are he will not understand if you wave it at him or smack him with it. You need to witness the crime, take the item away with a firm ‘No’ and offer him an alternative acceptable chew.

When you see him chewing something of which you approve, congratulate him and praise him.

If you think the cause may be boredom make sure he has plenty of exercise and give him constructive toys to exercise his mind as well, such as a ‘Kong’ toy filled with peanut butter, or one of the many other challenging toys which are now available.

Taste deterrents are available on the market which can help with chewing problems. You will need to use the deterrent for several weeks according to the instructions to help to eliminate the problem. Keep in mind though that deterrents aren’t a total solution. Your dog needs to learn what is and isn’t acceptable for chewing. After all, it’s not practicable to spray everything in the house!

Keep in mind that giving your dog old shoes or other personal items to chew will confuse him, as he won’t know the difference between what is acceptable and what isn’t.

When you go out, contain your dog in a crate so you can be sure he cannot reach what you don’t want him to eat. This will give you peace of mind and your dog will be greeted by a relaxed owner when you come home.