Understanding and Managing Your Dog’s Destructive Chewing Habits

Ever come home to find your favorite chair’s stuffing all over the place, or your nice leather shoe turned into a dog toy? If you can relate, you’re not alone. I, and many other pet owners, know what it’s like to have a dog that loves to chew on everything. It can be really annoying. But don’t give up! With some understanding, a bit of patience, and regular training, you can get your pet to stop chewing your stuff and start using proper chew toys.
As a dog owner and a professional trainer, my aim is to help you figure out why your dog is chewing up everything and how to stop it. We’ll look at all the chewed slippers and bitten furniture to find ways to deal with and stop this behavior in your pets. Because knowing our pets well is the key to living happily together. It makes a better home for everyone, whether you walk on two legs or four. So, ready to start this journey together?

Understanding and Managing Your Dog's Destructive Chewing Habits -

Understanding the Destructive Chewing Behaviour

Chewing behavior is instinctual and necessary for dogs. However, when it becomes excessive and destructive, it often points to underlying behavioral issues that need to be addressed. Understanding these issues is the first step toward mitigating destructive chewing habits.
  • Boredom and Lack of Exercise:

    Dogs, particularly active breeds, require regular physical and mental stimulation. If these needs are not met, dogs may resort to destructive behaviors like chewing as a way to expend energy and alleviate boredom.

  • Separation Anxiety:

    Dogs suffering from separation anxiety may exhibit destructive chewing when left alone. This is a result of their stress and anxiety, and chewing serves as a coping mechanism. Items that carry the owner’s scent are often the target.

  • Teething:

    In puppies, excessive chewing can be attributed to the discomfort of teething. Puppies explore the world through their mouths, and when their gums are sore, they find relief in chewing.

  • Lack of Training:

    If dogs aren’t taught what is acceptable to chew and what isn’t, they may end up chewing on anything they find interesting. This lack of training or inconsistent rules can lead to destructive chewing.

  • Attention-Seeking Behavior:

    Some dogs may resort to destructive chewing as a way to get attention, even if it is negative attention. If a dog learns that chewing on a shoe brings immediate attention from its owner, it might continue this behavior as a means to engage its owner.

  • Underlying Medical Issues:

    Sometimes, excessive chewing can be due to medical issues. For instance, nutritional deficiencies, gastrointestinal problems, or oral health issues can increase a dog’s desire to chew.

Understanding these behavioral issues is crucial for effectively managing and reducing destructive chewing. Solutions may involve increased exercise and mental stimulation, creating a structured environment with clear rules, providing appropriate chew toys, ensuring a balanced diet, and addressing any medical or anxiety-related issues. If the problem persists despite these efforts, professional help from a vet or a certified animal behaviorist should be sought.
Destructive Chewing

Signs of Destructive Chewing

Destructive chewing in dogs is generally quite noticeable, as it results in visible damage.

Destructive chewing in dogs can be identified through multiple signs. These signs can be broadly categorized into three groups: spotting the evidence, behavioral clues, and physical signs.:

  • Spotting the Evidence:

    Torn shoes, damaged furniture, etc.

    The most obvious sign of destructive chewing is, of course, the wreckage left behind by your furry little destructor. Torn shoes, damaged furniture, bits of fabric, or even chunks of wood lying around are clear indicators that your dog’s been indulging their chewing instincts on the wrong items.

  • Behavioral Clues:

    Excessive licking, seeming fixation on certain items

    Apart from the physical signs of destruction, you might also notice some behavioral clues. Your dog might start showing an excessive interest in certain objects, often the ones they’re not supposed to chew on. They might be licking, sniffing, or pawing at these items, basically showing all the telltale signs of a dog about to engage in a chewiest.

    You might also notice a sudden increase in the amount of time your dog spends chewing, or that your dog specifically goes for items when they’re bored or left alone. These are all behavioral clues pointing toward a destructive chewing habit.

  • Physical Signs:

    Damage to dog’s teeth, the potential for ingested objects

    In some cases, the signs might be on the dog itself. For instance, damage to your dog’s teeth could indicate they’ve been chewing on items that are too hard for them, like certain furniture or stones. In rare cases, you might also notice signs of discomfort or distress if your dog has swallowed parts of the objects they’ve chewed, which could potentially lead to internal damage. In such scenarios, it’s crucial to take your dog to the vet for a check-up.

Identifying the signs of destructive chewing is the first step towards managing it. But remember, each dog is unique, and so is their way of exhibiting this behavior. So, you need to be a bit of a detective here, looking out for evidence and observing your dog’s behavior. Don’t worry, though. Once you know what to look for, you’ll get the hang of it. Just like sniffing out the last cookie in the cookie jar, it’s all about knowing your target!
Understanding and Managing Your Dog's Destructive Chewing Habits -

Triggers of the Destructive Chewing

Now, if we’re going to get a grip on this destructive chewing habit, we need to understand what’s sparking it in the first place. I like to think of it as playing detective, sniffing out the culprits behind your dog’s urge to transform your home into a chew toy extravaganza.

Understanding why our furry friends embark on these destructive chewing adventures is pivotal in curbing this behavior. So let’s play detective and dive into some of the key triggers:

  • Boredom or Lack of Exercise

    Let’s start with the big one: boredom. You know that restless feeling you get when you’ve got nothing to do? Dogs get that too. And without a good book or TV series to dive into, they might turn to chew for entertainment.

    Mental stimulation is a must for our canine companions. They need puzzles to solve, games to play, and new things to learn. If they’re not getting enough of this, they might resort to creating their fun, and chewing your stuff can become an interesting (for them, not for you) pastime.

    Think about how you feel when you’ve got nothing to do. Pretty bored, right? Well, dogs are the same. When they don’t get enough physical exercise or mental stimulation, they start looking for ways to entertain themselves. And let’s be real, what’s more entertaining for a dog than turning your expensive running shoes into their chew toy? Regular walks, playtime, and mental stimulation like puzzle toys can go a long way in curbing this form of chewing.

  • Anxiety and Stress:

    Just like humans, dogs too can experience anxiety and stress. These emotions can trigger destructive behavior like chewing as a way for them to self-soothe. It could be separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, or changes in their environment. If you notice your pooch chewing excessively during certain situations, it might be time to consult with a vet or a dog behaviorist.

  • Teething (for Puppies):

    If you’ve got a puppy at home, brace yourself for the teething phase! As their new set of teeth starts to grow, puppies experience discomfort and have an instinctual need to chew. This is natural and essential for their dental health. However, it’s also the stage where they learn what they can and cannot chew. Providing safe and suitable chew toys can help guide them through this period without costing you your favorite furniture.

  • Nutritional Deficiencies or Hunger:

    Did you ever imagine that your dog’s diet could be the culprit behind their chewing? If a dog isn’t getting enough nutrients from their food, they might resort to chewing and eating non-food items, a condition known as pica. Similarly, if their meals aren’t satisfying their hunger, they might start seeing your possessions as a tasty alternative. Always ensure that your pet is on a balanced diet and, if in doubt, seek advice from your vet.

  • Lack of Proper Chew Toys or Items:

    Picture this: your dog feels the natural urge to chew but can’t find a suitable object. What happens next? They go for the next best thing, which sadly might be your cherished belongings. By providing appropriate chew toys, you’re not just saving your stuff but also keeping your dog safe from ingesting harmful substances.

Uncovering these triggers brings us one step closer to managing our dog’s destructive chewing habits. But remember, every dog is unique, and their reasons for chewing may vary. It’s our job to understand them, guide them, and most importantly, love them through it all. After all, nobody said being a pet parent was easy, but it sure is worth it!
Destructive Chewing

How to Handle Destructive Chewing – Do’s and Don’ts

Now that we’ve deciphered the possible triggers behind your dog’s destructive chewing, let’s roll up our sleeves and tackle the practical side of things. Here are some tried-and-true do’s and don’ts to help you navigate through this chewy dilemma.


  • Provide Plenty of Exercise

    Exercise isn’t just for keeping your dog’s weight in check; it also plays a pivotal role in preventing destructive behaviors. Regular physical activity helps burn off excess energy and reduces boredom, making your dog less likely to use your furniture as a chew toy. So, fetch that Frisbee, go for that extra-long walk, and make sure your furry friend gets plenty of exercise each day.

  • Offer Appropriate Chew Toys

    Dogs need to chew – it’s an instinct. But it’s our job to ensure they chew on the right things. Invest in high-quality, durable chew toys designed for dogs. These will not only satisfy your dog’s need to chew but also keep them busy and prevent them from eyeing up your stuff.

  • Utilize Distraction and Redirection

    Caught your dog mid-chew? Instead of losing your cool, use this as an opportunity to redirect their attention. Show them an approved chew toy or distract them with a game. This technique helps reinforce what they’re allowed to chew and what’s off-limits.

  • Consider Using a Taste Deterrent Spray

    Sometimes, we need a little extra help. That’s where taste deterrent sprays come in. These harmless sprays leave a bitter taste on items, discouraging your dog from chewing them. They can be particularly handy when dealing with persistent chewers.


  • Avoid Punishment After-the-Fact

    Found a chewed-up item but didn’t catch your dog in the act? Resist the urge to scold them. Dogs live in the moment and won’t associate the punishment with something they did earlier. Instead, focus on preventing future incidents by removing chewable items or using deterrents.

  • Don’t Use Old Shoes or Clothes as Chew Toys

    It might seem like a good idea to hand over an old shoe to your chew-happy dog, but it can create confusion. Your dog doesn’t understand the difference between old and new shoes. To them, a shoe is a shoe. If they’re allowed to chew on one, they’ll think all are fair game.

  • Avoid Giving the Dog Attention for Unwanted Behaviour

    If your dog gets attention (even if it’s negative) every time they chew something they shouldn’t, they might continue to do it for the spotlight. Instead, ignore the unwanted behavior and reward the good. Remember, positive reinforcement goes a long way.

Destructive Chewing_
Kong Classic Dog Toy-
The Kong Classic Dog Toy is a tried and tested solution to manage your dog’s destructive chewing. Its versatile, hollow design allows you to fill it with treats, enticing your dog to work for its reward. The toy is crafted from a durable rubber formula, which ensures its longevity against the most powerful chewers.

Key Features

Durable natural rubber formula stands up to strong jaws and persistent chewers.
The hollow design allows for treat filling, making chew time more engaging.
Bounces unpredictably, adding an element of physical play.
Safe for dishwasher use, making it easy to clean.
Comes in various sizes to cater to all breeds.
Vet-recommended worldwide for its efficacy in curbing destructive chewing.


Highly durable design ensures it lasts long even with aggressive chewers.
The treat-filling feature keeps dogs engaged for extended periods.
Can also serve as an interactive play toy due to its unpredictable bounce.
Easy to clean and maintain as it’s dishwasher safe.


The hollow design might pose a choking hazard if not appropriately sized for the dog.
Dogs may eventually lose interest if the same treats are used repeatedly.
Not suitable for dogs with dietary restrictions if used with treats.
May be too hard for dogs with dental issues.
Nylabone DuraChew-
The Nylabone DuraChew is a long-lasting chew toy designed specifically for heavy chewers. It’s made from durable nylon that stands up to strong jaws and aggressive chewing. The toy features a texture that helps clean your dog’s teeth and control plaque and tartar.

Key Features

Durable nylon material for long-lasting use.
Texture aids in dental hygiene by controlling plaque and tartar.
Flavored to keep dogs interested in chewing.
Discourages destructive chewing and promotes safe, healthy chewing habits.
Available in a variety of sizes and shapes to suit different breeds.
Veterinarian recommended as a safe and reliable chewing toy.


Helps maintain dental hygiene in dogs while providing a chewing outlet.
Flavor-infused to keep dogs engaged.
Durable and designed to withstand heavy chewers.
Variety in sizes and shapes cater to different breeds and chewing styles.


Some dogs might not be attracted to the flavor.
Sharp fragments may break off over time and could pose a choking hazard.
The hard nylon could potentially harm a dog’s teeth.
Not suitable for puppies with soft teeth.
Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Puzzle
The Outward Hound Hide-A-Squirrel Puzzle Toy is more than just a chew toy. It’s designed to stimulate your dog’s mind while satisfying its urge to chew. The toy includes several squeaky squirrels that hide in a plush tree trunk, encouraging your dog to ‘hunt’ them out.

Key Features

Plush, interactive puzzle game that challenges your dog mentally.
Includes squeaky squirrels to entice and entertain your dog
Squirrels can be replaced with treats for added incentive.
The soft, plush material is gentler on the teeth than harder chew toys.
Available in different sizes to suit various breeds.
Promotes interactive play that can help reduce anxiety and boredom.


It’s not just a chew toy but also a mentally stimulating puzzle.
Soft, plush material is gentle on your dog’s mouth.
Squeaky squirrels attract dogs and keep them entertained.
Versatile in its use – can be used with treats or without.


Not suitable for aggressive chewers as the material may not withstand heavy chewing.
Squeaky toys may be annoying to some pet owners.
Pieces can easily be torn off and swallowed, posing a choking hazard.
Requires more cleaning due to the plush material.
Goughnuts – Indestructible Chew Toy
The Goughnuts MAXX is an indestructible chew toy designed for the toughest chewers. It features a ring design, making it perfect for games of fetch as well as solo chew sessions. The toy is made from a virtually indestructible rubber compound and includes a safety indicator to show when it’s time to remove the toy.

Key Features

Made from virtually indestructible rubber compound, perfect for aggressive chewers.
Ring design makes it versatile for fetch and chewing.
Includes a safety indicator to show when the toy is unsafe and should be replaced.
Floats in water, making it suitable for water play.
Comes in two sizes to accommodate different dogs.
Lifetime guarantee – if your dog chews through to the red layer, Goughnuts will replace the toy.


Extremely durable, designed specifically for the toughest chewers.
The safety indicator provides a visual cue for toy replacement.
Suitable for various types of play, including water games due to its buoyancy.
Offers a lifetime guarantee, providing excellent value for money.


Due to its extreme durability, it might be too hard for dogs with dental issues.
Some dogs may not find the ring design engaging.
Lack of flavors or scents could make it less appealing to some dogs.
Its high price point compared to other chew toys.
Benebone Real Flavor Wishbone Dog Chew
The Benebone Wishbone Dog Chew Toy is a flavor-infused option for dogs who love to chew. The toy is made from durable nylon and is infused with real bacon, chicken, or peanut to keep your dog engaged. Its unique wishbone shape allows dogs to get a good grip on the toy.

Key Features

Made with durable nylon for prolonged use.
Infused with real flavors (bacon, chicken, or peanut) for added appeal.
The unique wishbone shape allows dogs to grip the toy comfortably.
Available in different sizes to cater to various breeds.
The ridged design helps with teeth cleaning and gum massaging.
Benebone donates a portion of their profits to animal welfare organizations.


The real flavors are highly attractive to dogs, keeping them engaged.
The wishbone design provides a better grip and more chewable areas.
Helps with dental hygiene due to its ridged design.
Benebone’s commitment to animal welfare through their donation scheme is a major plus.


Flavor might eventually fade, reducing its appeal to the dog.
Some dogs might not like the hard nylon material.
Pieces can break off over time and pose a choking hazard.
Not suitable for dogs with allergies to the flavors used.
West Paw Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone Chew
The West Paw Zogoflex Hurley Dog Bone Chew Toy is designed for dogs that love to chew. It’s a tough, durable toy shaped like a bone and made from West Paw’s proprietary Zogoflex material. This toy is not only a chew toy but also bounces and floats, adding versatility to its use.

Key Features

Made from proprietary Zogoflex material that is highly durable and safe for dogs.
Bone shape appeals to the instincts of dogs.
Floats in water, making it perfect for playing in pools or lakes.
It’s also a bouncing toy, adding an extra element of fun.
Dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Comes with a one-time replacement guarantee.


Made with highly durable material that stands up to aggressive chewers.
Versatile in use – suitable for chewing, bouncing, and floating.
Easy to clean with dishwasher compatibility.
The replacement guarantee provides peace of mind and value for money.


Flavor might eventually fade, reducing its appeal to the dog.
Some dogs might not like the hard nylon material.
Pieces can break off over time and pose a choking hazard.
Not suitable for dogs with allergies to the flavors used.
Hartz Chew ‘n Clean Dental
The Hartz Chew ‘n Clean Dental Duo is a chew toy and treat all in one. It’s designed to satisfy your dog’s natural urge to chew while providing dental benefits. The exterior is made of durable nylon, while the interior is edible with a tasty bacon flavor. It also has a crunchy texture that is great for reducing tartar and plaque.

Key Features

Combines a durable chew toy exterior with a tasty, edible interior.
Designed for dogs of all sizes with a variety of chewing styles.
Available in multiple sizes and flavors to suit your dog’s preference.
Helps to reduce tartar and plaque.
Contains a tasty middle filled with bacon flavor.
Comes in fun bone shapes that dogs love.


Edible center provides extra motivation for chewing.
Helps in promoting good dental health.
Made with durable material for long-lasting use.
Bacon flavor is enticing for most dogs.


Not suitable for very aggressive chewers as they may break it apart quickly.
The edible part can be consumed quickly, leaving just the nylon bone.
Some dogs may lose interest after the edible part is gone.
Potential choking hazard if larger pieces are swallowed.
Chuckit! Ultra
The Chuckit! Ultra Ball is not a typical chew toy, but for dogs who love to chase and chew balls, this product is the best choice. The balls are made from natural, high-bounce rubber that makes games of fetch exciting. It’s also highly durable, which is perfect for heavy chewers.

Key Features

Made from natural, high-bounce rubber.
Compatible with Chuckit! Ball Launchers for long-distance fetch.
Floats in water for versatile play.
Easy to clean after outdoor play.
Highly durable for strong chewers.
Available in multiple sizes to fit your dog’s mouth.


Great for interactive play and exercise.
Highly durable and can withstand heavy chewing.
Perfect for water play as it floats.
Can be used with launchers for extended play and less strain on the owner’s arm.


It’s not a typical chew toy and may not satisfy the need to chew as much as other toys.
Some dogs might be able to tear it apart.
Can be a choking hazard for large dogs if the smaller size is chosen.
Lacks flavor infusion, which some dogs prefer.
Outward Hound Invincible
Outward Hound Invincible Snakes are plush toys designed to withstand aggressive chewers. They feature multiple squeakers that continue to squeak even after being punctured. The toy also has no stuffing, which means there’s no mess even if your dog manages to break it open.

Key Features

Made from natural, high-bounce rubber.
Compatible with Chuckit! Ball Launchers for long-distance fetch.
Floats in water for versatile play.
Easy to clean after outdoor play.
Highly durable for strong chewers.
Available in multiple sizes to fit your dog’s mouth.


Multiple squeakers increase the fun and interest level.
No stuffing means less mess to clean up.
Durable for a plush toy, can withstand some degree of chewing.
Can help to reduce boredom and destructive behavior.


Not as durable as some rubber or nylon chew toys.
Some dogs may manage to rip it apart, posing a potential choking hazard.
Not suitable for extremely aggressive chewers.
The squeakers can be quite loud, which may be an issue in some households.
Arm & Hammer Super Treadz Gorilla Chew
The Arm & Hammer Super Treadz Gorilla Chew Toy is designed to withstand the toughest chewers. It’s made from durable rubber and features dental ridges that clean your dog’s teeth and gums as they chew. The toy is also infused with baking soda for fresh breath.

Key Features

Designed with dental ridges to clean teeth and gums.
Infused with baking soda for fresh breath.
Made from durable rubber for aggressive chewers.
Shaped like a fun gorilla to pique your dog’s interest.
Comes in two sizes: small and large.
Promotes better dental health.


Durable design, great for heavy chewers.
Promotes dental health and freshens breath.
Fun gorilla shape entices dogs.
Can withstand heavy chewing, making it last longer.


Some dogs might not like the taste of baking soda..
The ridges may be too hard for some dogs, leading to potential tooth damage.
Lacks flavor infusion, which some dogs prefer.
Might be too large for smaller breeds.


Recap of Key Strategies for Managing Destructive Chewing

Let’s do a quick sit-and-stay with the key strategies we’ve discussed:

  • Understand the Triggers:

    Boredom, anxiety, teething, nutritional deficiencies, or the lack of proper chew toys. Understanding the ‘why’ behind the chewing is the first step in addressing the issue.

  • Implement Do’s and Don’ts:

    Exercise, appropriate chew toys, distraction, and redirection tactics, along with deterrent sprays, can all help. Remember to avoid post-incident punishment, confusion (by offering old shoes as toys), and attention for unwanted behavior.

  • Use the Right Products:

    Depending on your dog’s needs, chew toys, deterrent sprays, anxiety-reducing products, or nutritional supplements could be your best friends in this journey.

Final Thoughts on the Importance of Patience and Consistency in Training

As we wrap up, let me leave you with this thought – patience and consistency are your strongest allies in this journey. Training a dog isn’t a one-day job; it’s an ongoing process. So even on those tough days when your favorite shoes become a casualty, remember that you’re not alone and that this phase will pass.

It’s crucial to approach each step with understanding and empathy toward your furry friend. After all, destructive chewing isn’t a ‘bad’ behavior from their perspective; it’s simply a way for them to communicate their needs or cope with certain situations.

And remember, every chewed-up shoe or piece of furniture is a stepping stone towards a better understanding of your dog. In this journey together, you’re not just training them; they’re teaching you about patience, unconditional love, and the value of a good pair of chew-proof slippers!

Stay strong, stay consistent, and keep loving your pet – because despite the chewed shoes and all, they’re pretty pawsome, aren’t they? Until next time, happy training, folks!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What if my dog continues to chew destructively despite my best efforts?
If you’ve tried everything and your dog continues to chew destructively, it’s time to consult with a professional dog trainer or a veterinary behaviourist.
Can destructive chewing be a sign of a medical problem?

While most destructive chewing is behaviour-based, certain medical conditions could increase your dog’s desire to chew. If you suspect this might be the case, it’s always best to consult with your vet.

What is destructive chewing?
Destructive chewing is when a person, typically a child, or an animal, particularly dogs and other pets, chews on objects excessively and destructively, causing potential harm to themselves and damaging property.
How can I prevent my dog from destructive chewing?
Prevention methods may include providing appropriate chew toys, keeping personal items out of reach, providing enough physical and mental stimulation, crate training, or using deterrent sprays on items that can’t be moved.
Are some breeds more prone to destructive chewing than others?
While any breed can develop a destructive chewing habit, some high-energy breeds or breeds with a strong ‘chew drive’ may be more likely to chew destructively if their needs are not met.
How can I train my dog to stop destructive chewing?
Training a dog to stop chewing destructively often involves a combination of offering appropriate chew toys, implementing obedience training, providing ample exercise, and sometimes seeking help from a professional trainer or behaviorist.

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