You have happily got a new bed for your dog but it just lasts for a day. Your dog chewed on his new bed over the night and the pieces of the bedding are all over the place.
Apart from cleaning up the mess, you would also need to stop your dog from his chewing habits to prevent this from happening on the next bed that you are going to get for him.
Your dog might be chewing his bed as the result of his old bad habit, boredom, separation anxiety or health related issue. To correct him on this chewing habit, you would need to work on redirection training, get him to release his pent-up energy and build up his confidence to be alone.
Getting to know what motives your dog to chew on his bed will be your first step in addressing this undesirable habit.
It’s important to find out which are the triggers that set off your dog’s chewing behavior and work on eliminating these stimuli.
Get Rid Of Old Bad Habits
Your new dog might have learned these undesirable chewing habits from the shelter home, and he isn’t being taught that this behavior is unacceptable. He will think that it’s perfectly fine for him to chew on anything that he can have his mouth on.
You will need to help him break this bad habit through redirection.
Redirect means you offer your dog something of greater value than the bed that he can chew on. The offer item had to be able to capture his attention to make him abort his bed chewing and get him to make the decision to choose your reward over the bed.
This is what I will do to stop my dog from chewing (redirect):
1. When he is in the act of chewing, get his attention (standing in front of him) with a high value treat. The enticing smell of the treat will certainly be able to grab his attention.
I would use some extremely high value meat treat that he will usually NOT be getting such as salmon or chicken. Normal kibble treats would not be tempting enough to make him stop his chewing actions.
2. The moment he decides to stop his chewing and turns to me, I will reward him immediately with the treat and praise him “Good Boy!” The goal is to make him associate that when he decides not to chew, good things will happen.
3. I will repeat this training to him till he is fully redirected from his chewing. When he is adjusting well, I will slowly replace the high value treat with normal kibble, praise and chewing toys.
Ease His Boredom
When your dog is feeling bored and has nothing to do, this is what he will do – get something to chew on!
And, of course, bed will be his ideal target as it’s just beside him.
If he is out in the yard, you will likely see him getting his mouth on the sticks that are scattered around the backyard.
To ease his boredom, you can do the following:
Get him something that he can chew on to direct his attention from chewing the bed. Chewing toys would be an ideal choice as they certainly have a much better chewing texture than the bed.
Go for some firm hard rubber toys such as Kong types that come in many shapes and sizes or some interesting woven or rope toys that come in “bone” design with knotted ends.
Make sure that the chewing toys are not too flimsy to prevent your dog from swallowing any broken pieces from the toys.
Physical And Mental Simulation
Get him to engage in some physical exercises and mental simulation games to help him release his pent up energy in the body.
You could plan for some physical games such as tug of war, Frisbee and flirt pole for your dog. These games require much interaction movement from your dog and will certainly help him to let off his energy and make him tired.
My dog likes to play bubble games and chasing after those “flying” bubbles is going to get him very excited and exhausted after the games.This works extremely well in getting my over energetic dog tired after the game.
As for the mental simulation, you can opt for puzzle games or some food dispensing toy for your dog to train on his brain power.
For my dog, I find that the KONG toy stuffed with peanut butter works great in getting him mentally tired. It helps to get him utilizing his brain power, thinking of ways to get the treat out from the toy.
I would also include some basic obedience commands for my dog as well as part of his mental simulation exercise. He will need to make use of his brain power to learn and execute these commands and will keep him mentally tired.
“Leave It” Command
One of my favorite commands for my dog will be the “Leave It” command. I would use this command to make him stop his chewing whenever he attempts to or starts his chewing habit.
This is how I trained him on the “Leave It” Command
1. Get ready 2 types of treats. Treat A (which is Cat Food) and Treat B (which is Salmon Dog Food). Treat A will be the type of treat that is going to be enticing to my dog but I will never give it to him.
Treat B will be the type of treat that is of the same value of Treat A that I will be rewarding him if he follows my instruction to stay away from Treat A.
The goal is to let him know that when I say the “Leave It” command toward that specific item, he will never be able to get it, and he might as well give up the idea and walk away.
2. With the Cat food on my left hand, I will stretch out the hand to him, and he will start placing his nose on my hand. I will give him the “Leave It” command.
3. As soon as my dog leaves it (pulls his nose away from my hand) at his own will, I will praise him with my marker clue which is “Good Job!” – (this is my way of telling him what he has done is correct) and reward him instantly with another treat (Salmon Dog Food) from my right hand.
The idea is to make him associate the “Leave It” command with rewarding experience (he will get an enticing reward).
It’s important that you make sure that he never gets his access to the cat food in your hand during the training and to reward him with the salmon dog food if he backs off. This will make him learn that he will get something equivalent or even better in return for executing the “Leave It” command.
Make use of this command whenever you see your dog in the act or going to chew things up (it could be your bed, furniture or your shoes). This is certainly going to be much better than simply pulling your dog away or yelling at him.
Your dog gets to know why he should leave the chewing item alone when you use this command. (He knows that there is going to be a much more valuable reward for him if he stops this behavior!)
Ease His Separation Anxiety
When your dog finds himself alone in the house (either you are out for work or during the night when you are asleep), he will likely start to feel a sense of separation anxiety and starts his chewing.
So keep a lookout on when your dog chewing takes place. If it only happens when you are out of home or if he is being left alone during the night, it could be a sign of anxiety related destructive chewing that you will need to work on.
This is what you can do:
1. Gradually build up his confidence to be alone. Do this in small steps. Start with leaving him alone in a crate for 10 minutes and get back to him with reward and praise when he is behaving well. Slowly increase the duration as he progresses well with the training.
I would prefer to use a crate for this training as this would prevent him from running around the house looking for me during the training and also to prevent him from carrying out any destructive chewing.
To make the training successful, I will also place some chewing toys in the crate for him to keep himself busy when he feels lonely.
This will keep him preoccupied and make him learn that there is nothing to be worried about being alone as you will be looking for him later, and he gets to play with his favorite toys.
2. Play some classical music when he is alone to ease his anxiety. Prepare some music and play it during the night when he is alone on his bed.
You see, your dog might sense that “silence” over the night and start to get nervous. By playing some background music, it helps to smoothen his fear.
3. Use of essential oils such as lavender. Lavender oil is well known to offer a relaxing and calming effect on dogs.
What you can do is to apply 2 drops of the oils to your dog’s bed and when he sleeps on his bed and inhale the lavender’s scent, it will help to calm him down and ease his urge to destructive chewing.
Lavender oil also helps to get rid of the unpleasant pet odor from the bed as well!
Health Related Issue
If you have tried everything that you could and your dog is still performing his destructive chewing, it could be related to his health issue.
Some common health related conditions that lead to uncontrolled chewing include unbalanced diet and gastrointestinal conditions.
When your dog is not getting all the essential nutrients that he needs, he will develop a medical disorder known as “Pica”.
He might start to get his mouth on any non-food substance that he can get hold of such as his bed or any wooden stuff!
When your dog is suffering from a gastrointestinal condition, he might start chewing things up simply to help him relieve that uncomfortable feeling.
Never overlook any health issue as it could potentially get worse over time. Bring your dog to your veterinarian for a health checkup to have a peace of mind.