What to Do When Your Dog Tries to Eat the Couch? A Dogwalker's Perspective
Dogs don’t have hands. They use their paws, claws, and mouths instead. When they are bored or find something tasty, stinky, or fun, you can count on your dog chewing on it. This is completely normal. So, what can you do about your shoes getting munched on, or your furniture damaged? Lots!
First, make sure it is regular chewing, not separation anxiety.
Simply put, separation anxiety is when you leave, and your dog cannot emotionally handle it. It can be caused by a change in human family, death in the family, a new house, or even medical issues. Classic signs of separation anxiety include: excessive barking, howling, inappropriate urination/defecation, attempting to escape, excessive digging, destruction (think the entire sofa destroyed, not just a pillow or chair leg), and pacing. If you see your dog napping on the nanny camera while you’re away, it’s probably not separation anxiety. If you do think it’s separation anxiety, contact your vet and make an appointment. It’s important to rule out a medical issue before starting work with a trainer or canine behavior specialist.
Make a dog-proof den; this is especially great for puppies.
Decide which room of the house will make a great den. I recommend a room with minimal clutter or electrical wires, and a tiled floor. Lay on your stomach in the room and look around. What might be interesting or tempting for your dog to chew on? Make sure to remove anything tempting, or you can move it up higher than a jumping dog can reach. When you’re ready to leave the house, you can either close the door to this room or install a baby gate.
Dog Walker Side Note: Too many times have I gone into people’s homes and found a broken baby gate in front of their dog den. Every time it has been because someone bought a budget baby gate that isn’t capable of stopping a 50lb tenacious dog. Keep the strength and weight of your dog in mind when purchasing a baby gate for your pup.
Provide fun things to chew!
Pro life tip: every time you have to say no to something, make sure that there is a yes option.
Everyone needs an outlet for their needs, wants, and instincts, and this includes your dog. Say no to chewing your shoes, and say yes to chewing on a stuffed kong or bone. Say yes to horns, yak chews, and tough, made for dogs, stuffed animals. To keep it entertaining, don’t have all these exciting options available at the same time, but instead have a couple available every day.
Exercise: a tired dog sleeps, but bored dogs will find their own way to amuse themselves.
Daily walks, training, and playing fetch are great ways to tire out your dog.
A general rule of thumb is to provide one hour of cardio exercise for your dog every day. For puppies or senior dogs, this can mean four 15 minute workout sessions per day, or six 10 minute sessions. For certain working breeds, this can mean one hour after every sleep cycle. So one hour in the morning before you leave for work, one hour in the afternoon, and one more hour in the evening before bed. Do your homework on your specific breed of dog for maximum success.
Inappropriate chewing isn’t just expensive and annoying for you, but it can also be dangerous for your canine companion. Every year veterinarians have to surgically remove foreign objects that dogs have swallowed. Use these tips above to help keep your home and pooch safe.
With puppy and kitty love,
Lily the Dog Mama