Chewing is a behaviour that dogs commonly engage in, in order to reduce the amount of stress hormones circulating around their bodies. Put simply – it makes them feel better. So the first thing as a behaviourist that I would do, is to go through what might be causing your dog stress. Is he getting enough exercise? Does he have good relationships with the animals and humans around him? Is there excessive telling off? Is he getting enough good quality food? Are you remembering to keep up the training with your dog? What does he like doing for fun? Is there something that scares him every day – such as the hoover?
It is a fact in London that most dogs are under-stimulated and quite bored – especially the working breeds, and so chewing is something they commonly engage in and something they HAVE to do. So, we don’t want to tell them off for it – that would cause their stress levels to rise and actually increase their need for…. chewing! What we want to do instead, is to help them to chew on things other than your furniture, and provide them with mental stimulation. There are lots of healthy chews on the market – try Yaks milk chews, try anker wood chews, try antlers, try meaty bones from the butchers, try kongs stuffed with peanut butter (allergies permitting), cream cheese or dog food – see which your dog would prefer. 9And always make sure that your dog is not possessive before giving them chews). In addition to these chews, you can try spraying your furniture with a bitter tasting spray to deter him from chewing – but alternative sources to chew should always be provided.
Penaran Higgs BSc Psychology, PgDip CABC (Companion Animal Behaviour Counselling)