If your dog has a habit of chewing on everything in sight and is constantly destroying your furniture or favourite pair of shoes, you should know that this is not normal behaviour, unless your dog is a teething puppy. There are a couple of different reasons that a dog may display destructive behaviour but you should never punish your dog for chewing. This will only cause distrust and anxiety and will likely make the problem worse.
First you need to consider what the underlying cause of the chewing might be. Your dog might be suffering from separation anxiety and the chewing might be just one of many signs that indicate this. Or, their diet might be lacking in some essential nutrients, causing them to search for alternative sources. Your dog may be chewing as a source of entertainment if they are not being physically or mentally stimulated enough, or it might be a form of attention seeking if you always react when they are chewing something they are not supposed to. Again, chewing is normal behaviour for a teething puppy as it helps them to relieve discomfort and helps their adult teeth come through.
In order to try and stop the destructive chewing behaviour, buy a range of chews that you dog can gnaw on and switch them around frequently to prevent your dog from becoming bored of them. It’s also good to make a clear definition between ‘toys’ and ‘chews’ as most soft toys are designed for playing with, not chewing on. Keep soft toys out of sight and reach when you’ve finished playing with them to help define the distinction between the two. If your dog likes to chew shoes or slippers, don’t be tempted to give them an old pair to chomp on, as this will send a confusing message. A specialist toy, like a Kong, will keep them entertained and is safe for them to chew on.
Be sure to exercise your dog regularly and provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation to prevent them from getting bored. Make sure you play with your dog frequently too so they are not tempted to use destructive chewing as a way to get your attention.
With these tips in mind, you should be able to nip chewing in the bud. If you have further concerns or if the destructive chewing continues, seek advice from a specialist.