It is normal for dogs to chew objects. They are curious creatures, and this is one of the ways to explore the world around them. However, coming home to find your furniture has been chewed into pieces all over the living room is not fun at all. It almost makes you feel like you want time away from your dog. However, before you give up and assume dog ownership is just not for you, you should find out whether you can take steps to stop the behavior. In the article below, find out why dogs chew furniture and what you can do about it.
Why Does My Dog Chew Furniture?
For you to stop this destructive behavior, you first have to understand why your dog is doing it. Here are the reasons why a dog chews furniture.
If you have a puppy and it is eating your furniture, it could be due to teething or that permanent teeth are replacing the baby teeth. When your pup is about 3 to 8 weeks, it will start to teeth. At this age, they have an uncontrollable urge to chew on anything to relieve gum discomfort caused by teething. Also, chewing helps in the removal of baby teeth to allow the eruption of adult teeth. Dogs stop teething somewhere between 4 to 7 months old when they have developed permanent teeth.
It is Bored
Another reason your dog could be chewing on your furniture is that it is bored and has not had enough exercise. If you do not take your dogs on walks regularly or meet their exercise needs through play and interaction, they might chew on your furniture to release all that energy. Dogs usually have a lot of energy to release. If it is not used for walks and play, your furniture may just end up being the victim.
Dogs are social animals, requiring some attention and interaction every day. And if you have a highly energetic dog, it will crave attention almost all the time. When you fail to provide that attention, you may turn to your furniture to release frustration.
Some dogs get anxious when they are separated from their owners. They get stressed and start exhibiting some behavioral problems. When a dog is suffering from separation anxiety, it will try to relieve stress in many ways. One of them is chewing on your furniture. Other signs of separation anxiety include whining, pacing back and forth, barking, urination, and defecation.
Some dogs on a calorie-restricted diet can chew furniture as they look for additional sources of nutrition. This kind of chewing will be mostly directed to any furniture smelling like food.
In the same way, some humans can develop OCD; a dog can also have obsessive-compulsive psychosis. When it is not corrected, this habit becomes an obsession. In some cases, you may need to see a behavior specialist to correct this behavior.
Not Taught Right From Wrong
Most dogs are trained not to chew furniture while they are still puppies. If you get an older dog that was not trained on what it can chew, then this destructive behavior will exhibit itself in adulthood. To a dog, chewing that pillow provides pleasure, and that is why it loves doing it.
Do Dogs Grow Out of Chewing Furniture?
If you just got a puppy, then you do not have to worry, as, with time, it is likely to outgrow this behavior. As mentioned earlier, chewing helps relieve gum discomfort. When they grow a full set of adult teeth, they are likely to stop. During this phase, you can gently guide your puppy on what can and cannot be chewed.
At What Age Do Dogs Stop Chewing Furniture?
Puppies grow teeth between 3 to 6 months. So, this age may come with some destructive behavior. Once all the baby teeth are gone, and the discomfort has disappeared, the puppy will slowly outgrow destructive chewing. However, note that as puppies grow, they explore the world around them. So this can also lead to exploratory chewing. This behavior is common between 6 months and one year. But you will still want to keep an eye on your dog and provide training to prevent the behavior from becoming a habit. This ensures that your dog outgrows it.
Can My Older Dog Suddenly Start Chewing Furniture?
Yes, it is possible. If your older dog suddenly starts chewing furniture, there could be an underlying reason. Sometimes it could be because of boredom, separation anxiety, or responding to pain. When the change is sudden, it is good to consult with a vet. Your dog cannot tell you the issues facing them, especially as they age, and so it is up to you to watch out for the signs they are giving. Best to lean on the side of caution and take it to the vet. Once health conditions are eliminated, you can start looking at any other changes that have happened in the house that could have led to the behavior.
Which Dog Breeds Are The Biggest Chewers?
Some dog breeds are more destructive than others. Here are the top examples of the biggest chewers.
- Border Collie: This is a herding dog breed, meaning it has tons of energy to release. When bored, it will look for objects to keep it busy, and one of those things is your furniture.
- Chihuahua: These tiny dogs love attention and are prone to boredom, separation anxiety, and nervousness when ignored. To alleviate such feelings, it might end up chewing objects, your furniture included.
- Labradors: These animals are used to having an object in their mouth to chew to keep themselves busy. If you have not provided chew toys, they might turn to your furniture.
- Beagle: This breed enjoys eating a lot, whether it is something edible or not.
- Golden Retriever: They are among the most common dog breeds humans love keeping. Hunters would use these dogs to retrieve birds after shooting them, which made these dogs get used to having something in their mouths. Since they are used to chewing, ensure you give your Golden Retriever a chew toy to keep it busy.
- Jack Russell’s: This breed can get quite destructive. It has a lot of energy and is always looking for ways to use it. Sometimes it can be digging, and sometimes it can be chewing your furniture.
Why Does My Dog Chew Furniture When Left Alone?
If your dog only chews furniture when left alone, then it could be dealing with separation anxiety. Symptoms of dog separation anxiety vary in different dogs, but generally, the dog gets terrified when left alone in the house. Most dog specialists say that separation anxiety for a dog is what a panic attack is for humans.
What are the Signs of Separation Anxiety?
There are several signs that a dog will exhibit when it is stressed. When there are one or two signs, and occasionally, there may not be separation anxiety. But if your puppy exhibits multiple signs and a lot of time, then you need to be concerned. Here are the common signs of separation anxiety.
- Excessive barking or howling
- Excessive drooling, salivation, or panting
- Frequent accidents in the house, including urinating or defecating
- Anxious behavior such as whining, pacing, and trembling when you are about to leave or have left
- Destructive behavior like chewing your furniture
- Desperate attempts to escape confinement
It is unfortunate that most people give up their dogs because of such signs. Dog owners need to know that this behavior can be corrected by regular training.
How Can I Differentiate normal Canine Behavior and Separation Anxiety?
Before you label the chewed furniture or destroyed objects as separation anxiety, you should first question whether your dog has been adequately trained and understands good manners even when you are not around. When a dog has not been well trained, it will not know the difference between right and wrong.
Separation anxiety is very serious and goes beyond the usual whining when you leave the house. It is not just about boredom or mischief. It results from legitimate stress. Videotaping your dog’s behavior when you are away can give you a clear picture of what is really going on.
How Can I help a Dog With Separation Anxiety?
Here are a few tips you can use to help your dog:
- Ensure your dog gets enough exercise. Even though it will not cure the anxiety, it makes it manageable.
- When leaving, do not make such a big deal about it. This way, you are telling your dog that time apart is no big deal.
- Be calm and assertive as you leave, projecting confidence. This can help ease the anxiety.
- You can also get over-the-counter calming supplements for your dog.
How To Stop A Dog Chewing Furniture?
Here are a few ideas you can use to stop your canine friend from chewing your furniture.
Provide Enough Mental and Physical Exercise
If your dog is not getting enough exercise, it has a lot of pent-up energy that can be released into your furniture. Go on walks every day, ensuring your dog gets a lot of mental and physical stimulation.
Provide Your Dog With Enough Toys
Ensure your dog has a lot of inedible toys that it can chew on when it is boring. Every several days, rotate the toys so that the dog does not get bored with the same toys.
Train Your Dog On What is Right and Wrong
If you notice your dog chewing furniture, stop him and direct him to another toy. With time, your dog will understand items that it is not supposed to chew and what is allowed.
Confine The Dog
You can also prevent destructive chewing through crate training. What your dog cannot reach, will not damage. If you do not want to use a crate, you can confine the dog to a room where it is less likely to cause damage when you are away. For instance, you can lock your dog in the bathroom as it will not cause a lot of damage. However, ensure that you provide your dog with enough toys to play with to alleviate boredom. You can get a kong toy and fill it with food to keep your dog busy. Provide water as well.
How To Stop a Dog from Chewing Wooden Furniture?
If your dog is chewing wooden furniture, the aforementioned methods can help you stop this behavior. Another method you can use is a dog chewing deterrent. Spray dog chewing deterrents on any wooden furniture where you see your dog chewing a lot. You can make this mixture at home by mixing apple cider with vinegar. It is important to stop this behavior as small wooden pieces can injure your dog’s mouth. However, keep in mind that dog chewing deterrents should be accompanied by behavioral training.