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My dog is about 18 months old now. And he's still chewing things he shouldn't.

There's two problems really:

  1. Picking up things to run off and chew, anything out of the ordinary, like tissue on the side or a pen that fell on the floor. He took a scalpel once and cut himself...

  2. Chewing things when we're not there. He took a chunk out of the kitchen top, the fire place, skirting, etc.

He used to be kept in the kitchen but as he got older and didn't chew as much, I gave him access to the lounge and was hoping to give him more but he hasn't managed to get there yet. Following the advice of Dr. Dunbar, if he doesn't chew, give him more freedom - if he chews again, put him back at Square one for a week, etc. The most he has managed is about 4 days in a couple of months.

We used to always give him a kong/wobbler when we left but he's either not interested in his wobbler now or he is far too good at kongs and finishes them in minutes. Unless we freeze them, but he's discovered that if he waits for it to defrost, it's much easier, and so it just takes a few mins after he's waited. He won't touch his wobbler at all really any more.

I have bitter Apple spray but he just targets something else.

I've tried showing him what he's done, and he understands I don't approve. But will carry on when I'm not around.

In regards to picking up random things like tissue, I've no idea what to try. I was told it would fade.

He's on his own whilst we're at work, my partner returns for an hour at lunch. So he's on his own for four hours at a time.

We leave his toys in the lounge when we leave, which he grabs as soon as we get home. And he dies play with them because they've moved.

I'm just looking for any tips on what else I can try really.

And I should add: since he's lost interest in kongs (which we filled with all sorts) he's more anxious when we leave, Barking at the windows, etc.

  • How can you cite Dr. Dunbar and then say "I've tried showing him what he's done, and he understands I don't approve. But will carry on when I'm not around." :s – Cedric H. Aug 27 '14 at 13:06
  • By picking up whatever he's chewed, showing him what it was and saying "this is not yours". I figured if I did this each time and not show him any praise, he would understand it's not a good thing. He clearly understands something because his ears go down when I do. And when he brings me a toy instead, he gets praise. – evu Aug 27 '14 at 13:28
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    Relevant, maybe even a duplicate, pets.stackexchange.com/q/1772/481 – Spidercat Aug 27 '14 at 13:44
  • @MattS. - I thought so too, but on review it's not as much of a duplicate; the other question focuses on a puppy chewing for the purpose of teething. – JoshDM Aug 27 '14 at 14:26
  • @evu I strongly doubt about that. However you seem to have tried many good options already, that makes it a difficult question to answer. – Cedric H. Aug 27 '14 at 15:46
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Sorry if I have bad English writing, that's not my native language.

An adult dog might be chewing for many reasons:

  1. Anxiety/loneliness
  2. To call your attention
  3. A natural need for chewing

Since he lost interest in kong and toys, your case seems to be the first two. His behavior when you say:

We leave his toys in the lounge when we leave, which he grabs as soon as we get home.

It seems to be calling for attention. From his point of view, the toy is only cool when you are at home. Dogs observe our behavior very well. In his mind, when he chews the toy, he doesn't get the attention he wants, when he chews a pen or a remote he will have your attention, even if you disapprove, it is attention.

One thing I learned on a dog behavior course is: For each "NO" you say, there should be a "YES".

In other words, can't chew this but can chew that. It's hard to teach that, here are some tips:

  • If you are at home and catches him chewing something he shouldn't, don't get angry, get a toy to call his attention and play with the toy, build a positive association with that toy. In his mind it's like this: "chewing a pen is cool, but the toy is cooler!"
  • The most important sense for dogs is the smell, he likes being close to your smell, and when he is home alone he wants that to feel safe, so chewing things that have your smell makes a lot of sense for him. So by a new toy, sleep with this new toy for a night and when leaving home let this toy with him, he will love it because it has you smell.
  • Instead of doing negative associations with bad behavior, do positive associations only. It's known that dogs don't feel guilty (even if it looks that they feel).
  • Do regular exercise, walk daily, they love a routine of activities. If possible do activities before leaving home. When returning to home wait for him to calm down first before you give attention.

If you need more help, just leave a comment, good luck!

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Exercise, before you leave give him a solid run, make him exhausted. Do not scold him when you come home and he chewed some stuff, this only tells him "hey I get attention if I chew things", if it is you he misses then put a tshirt you sleep in on his bed with him. Don't make a fuss when you come home, avoid eye contact and ignore him for 5mins, that way he wont grow anxiety about "OMW WHEN IS HE BACK? I WANT THAT INSTANT RELIEF".

I have a pitbull and she did the same, lots of exercise was needed, we got a second dog as a companion and as she is a powerful breed we gave her access to something she was allowed to chew, a tyre we hung in the garden, everything else was off limits and we reprimanded her the second we see her try chew something else.

We now leave our dogs some times for up to 6 hours alone in the house without a single issue. We confine them to the same area, so don't confuse your dog by opening him up to certain areas then reducing him again.

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