I’ve been working around dogs for a very long time. I have managed two different boarding and daycare facilities and I owned my own kennel.
As you can imagine, in a kennel picking up poop is a constant chore. It always amazed me the things that you would find in dog poop.
One of the most hilarious and consistent items was thong underwear – I’m not kidding.
How did I motivate employees to pick up poop? I made it an Easter egg hunt. If they found a thong they got a prize.
When dogs eat things around the house not only is it annoying but it can be dangerous. I have known several dogs who have eaten socks and had to have surgery for a bowel obstruction.
I once had a foster dog with a very powerful mouth who bit off part of a Kong. She swallowed it. $3000 later she’s living the easy life in a wonderful home.
The fact of the matter is this – Some dogs will chew or eat anything they can get their grubby little paws on.
Chewing is important for dogs. It keeps their jaws strong and their teeth clean. Dogs chew for fun, they chew for stimulation, and they chew to relieve anxiety. Make sure you have plenty of appropriate items to chew available because your dog will chew either way!
Unwanted chewing is one of the top complaints of owners who leave their dogs with me for training. When those dogs are at my house I have very little problem with it. Why? Because I have about 50 Nyla Bones around my house at any given moment. You don't need 50, but you should have a few.
What can I do if my dog is chewing everything?
Play the eat this, not that game!
The phrase may sound familiar. It was popularized a few years ago as a series of books and blog posts to help people choose healthier foods.
Same concept here except this is a rule. We are teaching the dog what they CAN'T chew and what they CAN chew.
Eat This, Not That! Dog Edition
- Schedule a block of 15 uninterrupted minutes to play.
- Identify your dog's favorite naughty items to chew. If they have already chewed a pillow, flip-flops, glasses, or TV remote, (or whatever!) save those items to use for this training activity.If they just happen to love the tissue box, socks, or undies, grab those things too.
- Identify where your dog likes to get in trouble. Do they chew in a specific room, at the back door, behind the couch, or pull from the kitchen counter? (No worries if your dog doesn't seem to have a hot spot.)
- Take the irresistible chew items (that they shouldn't chew) and place them in the irresistible chew spots (within your field of vision.) Set up 10 or so items around the area.
- Grab your basket of dog toys. Put a few toys out with the temptation items and keep a pile near you.
- Put a leash on your dog.
Ok, you are ready to begin!
- Fake distraction. My go-to for this exercise is the phone. My dogs know when I look at the phone I'm not looking at them. Choose an activity where they feel unwatched, but where you can still keep a secret eye on them.
- Watch your pup and as soon as they approach (not actually grab) a temptation item you'll do several things at once:
- Startle them by clapping your hands.
- Quickly grab the leash so they aren't rewarded with the thing they shouldn't have.
- Repeat “No, no, no, no.”
- Immediately give them to a toy that belongs to them.
The quick redirection says, “You may NOT chew the tissue, but you MAY chew your wubby.” You are doing a lot of things simultaneously here, it might take a little practice.
- Use the 3 strikes rule… if they go for 3 temptation items within the 15 minutes they need to take a 15-minute crate break. (If you or your dog is crate-averse check out my making the crate fun post)
- If they don't hit the 3-strikes limit in the 15 minutes, have a salsa dance party! Verbally praise, wiggle your body, pet, and play! Positive reinforcement is a super strong tool!
Remember when you correct unwanted behavior, you must replace it with desired behavior. You cannot chew THAT, but you can chew THIS.
Play the game a few times a week. You will be surprised how fast your dog gets it!There are no “bad” dogs, just mofos with problems. Problems generally have solutions, and I’ve encountered them all. ( Check out my easy, 30-minute Potty Training workshop.)
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Photo by Sheila Sund: PxHere