How to Train Your Dog to Not Chew on Furniture

Medium
1-2 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Chewing is a natural behavior for your dog, but coming home to find your couch strewn throughout your living room is not desirable for anyone, you or your dog. Dogs need to chew when they are young, as a way to relieve the pain of teething, and older dogs chew to loosen debris from their teeth and keep their jaws and teeth strong and healthy. Therefore, you do not want to teach your dog not to chew, just not to chew on your furniture!  

Besides not wanting your furniture or other possessions damaged, chewing on furniture can be dangerous to your dog, as they can damage their teeth on hardwood or sharp corners, ingest furniture polish, loose bits of furniture, or upholstery, or they can damage their mouth with slivers. Besides being expensive to replace damaged items, you could incur veterinary bills if your dog is injured or made sick by ingesting something non-digestible.

Defining Tasks

Because dogs need to chew, any method used to prevent them chewing on furniture should provide an alternative safe chewing opportunity. Providing a viable alternative to their furniture chewing habit is vital to success, and your dog's health and happiness. It is easier to train your dog from an early age to chew on appropriate items before they get into the habit of damaging your furniture, by providing appropriate chew toys and items. If your dog has started chewing furniture you will need to break that habit, as well as redirect them to appropriate chew items.

Getting Started

Ensure you have appropriate chew items, such as toys you can put food in, rawhide bones, or other chew toys available for your dog. Do not use household items such as shoes or other personal items that will confuse your dog if they transfer to other similar items that are forbidden. Because boredom can contribute to destructive chewing, have puzzle feeders and activities like hollow rubber chew toys that can be filled with food available, to entertain your dog, as a distraction, and alternate behavior. Deterrents such as foul tasting chew deterrents, that are non-toxic, can be purchased commercially, which can be used in conjunction with other negative association creating devices such as noise makers. If a furniture chewing habit has started you may need to have a way of removing your dog from the object they have started chewing; dog gates, crates or the ability to shut your dog in a different part of the house may be necessary. Several methods or combinations of training techniques can be used to deter your dog from chewing furniture, below are some methods that can be used alone or in combination to curb a dog's destructive furniture chewing habit.

The Positive Habit Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Provide chew toys
From as early an age as possible, develop a toy habit with your dog by providing lots of attractive chew toys.
Step
2
Use interactive feeders
Fill hollow rubber toys or puzzle feeders with food at meal time.
Step
3
Reinforce chew toys
Provide rawhide bones and make them into playthings by playing with your dog, petting, and paying attention to him while he chews on his appropriate toy, to encourage chew toy behavior.
Step
4
Exercise and activity
Provide other toys such as balls to keep your dog active and entertained, so he will not become bored and be tempted to transfer his attention to furniture or other inappropriate household items to entertain himself. Play with and exercise your dog extensively, use appropriate chew items as part of play and exercise to reinforce what your dog is allowed to chew on.
Step
5
Separate from furniture
If your dog has started chewing on furniture, keep him separate from the object he is interested in chewing and reinforce appropriate chewing items until a new chewing habit is established.
Recommend training method?

The Deter Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Use taste deterrent
Spray furniture with a commercial non-toxic, bad tasting chewing deterrent
Step
2
Supervise
You will need to supervise your dog, as chewing deterrents alone are not always successful at preventing your dog from chewing on items. Have an alternate negative consequence available, such as a loud noise maker.
Step
3
Use noise maker
When your dog approaches the furniture and starts chewing, activate the noise making device.
Step
4
Create negative association
Used in combination with the commercial taste deterrent, this will create a negative association between the taste and noise, and the furniture chewing behavior.
Step
5
Provide alternative
Provide an alternate chew item such as a rawhide bone, in a separate location. Praise and encourage your dog to chew on the appropriate object. Reward him with treats for chewing on his chew toy to replace the furniture habit.
Recommend training method?

The Claim Furniture Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Block access
If your dog has started chewing on a piece of furniture, block him from access to that furniture when not supervised.
Step
2
Command 'leave it'
Under your supervision, wait until your dog approaches the furniture he has been chewing and put your body firmly between him and the furniture. Give a 'leave it'” command or a firm “No”.
Step
3
Push away
Tap your dog on the side to exert leadership and claim your space, push him away with your body.
Step
4
Reinforce 'away'
When your dog retreats from the furniture, praise him and give him an alternate chew item. Encourage and praise him for chewing the appropriate item in an area separate from the furniture he has previously chewed on.
Step
5
Establish
Maintain separation when unsupervised, and when supervised do not allow your dog to even approach the furniture that is the object of his chewing habit. Claim the furniture as your territory, provide your dog with an alternate territory and chew item, repeat as necessary for several days until a new, healthy chew habit is formed that does not involve your furniture.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Leon
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
11 Months
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Question
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Leon
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
11 Months

Leon started to chew the bed once he was 10 months old. He is chawing it only once we are with him and only before bed time. It's seems to me that clearly he want to catch our attention on him. We are trying to always provide him an alternative, natural chew toy. We are providing him both mental and physical stimulation. We are trying to block an access. Nothing is working for him. Is there any additional ways we can try to?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
491 Dog owners recommended

Hello Katarzyna, Continue to redirect him to his own toys after you catch him chewing inappropriate things, and provide him with mental and physical stimulation, but also purchase a spray called "Bitter Apple". It is a pet safe spray that most large pet stores carry, or you can purchase it online. It makes whatever you spray it on taste bad. If he is doing the chewing to get your attention, then making whatever he tends to chew on taste really bad will discourage him from chewing without you having to give him attention to stop him, when he stops chewing it for several minutes because he does not like the taste, then while he is being good, give him a stuffed Kong to chew instead. A few rare dogs actually like the taste instead of finding it awful. If that happens to be him, then you can also buy other flavors and see if those work, or make your own using vinegar, lemon juice, or hot pepper sauce. If you make your own, just be careful not to bleach your furniture with lemon, stain if with the red hot pepper, or use anything unsafe for your dog. A stuffed Kong is a rubber, hollow chew toy, called a Kong, that has been stuffed with food for your dog to work on getting out. There are several ways to stuff a Kong, but I recommend buying several Kongs, placing your dog's dry dog food into a bowl, covering it with water slightly, and letting it sit there until the food soaks up all of the water and becomes mushy. When the food is mushy, then stuff the food into the Kongs until it reaches the top of each one, but do not pack it too tight or it will not come out. After you have stuffed the Kongs, place them into Zip-Lock bags, and then into the freezer to freeze. Whenever your dog needs something else to chew on besides your items, when he is being good for at least a couple of minutes, then give him a Kong on his bed or in his crate while it is open, for him to chew. You can make the Kong's taste even better by mixing a little peanut butter or squeeze cheese into the dog food before you stuff them. If you do that, just read the ingredients for the peanut butter, and make sure that it does NOT contain Xylitol. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is popular right now, and it is extremely toxic to dogs, even more so than chocolate. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Juniper
Cattle mix
14 Months
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Question
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Juniper
Cattle mix
14 Months

Our dog will chew anything in site, despite having a million chew toys of different types and textures. The second you turn your attention away, she has chewed on a shoe, or a pillow, or a rug. We have learned to put away shoes, obviously, but sometimes we forget. And we obviously can't put away our rugs and couch cushions. We have tried bitter spray, but that didn't seem to work. Help!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
491 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jon, Check out the article that I have linked below. You probably need to do several of the things that the article talks about: 1. Crate train and crate Juniper with FOOD-STUFFED chew toys. The food in the toy will teach her to prefer chew toys, without the food the toy is no more exciting than anything else. You want to train her to chew her toys so that she will go find one when she needs to chew. You can't stop a dog's need to chew but you can teach what to chew. 2. Teach obedience commands that communicate what she should do around your stuff. The article will cover how to teach a few important ones. 3. Try creating your own deterrent spray using white vinegar. Some dogs like bitter apple so try a different flavor. Be careful not to use it on surfaces it might discolor. Hard surfaces tend to be best. Do a spot test on fabric first. The article includes recipes for sprays. 4. Provide mental exercise. As a herding breed Juniper needs mental exercise and is far more likely to get into mischief without it. Physical exercise is good, but mental exercise that challenges her brain and makes her think is probably even more important for her breed. Teaching tricks, working on things that are a bit challenging for her, or doing a canine sport that requires lots of thinking and focus are good ways to challenge her brain. Something like a Pet Tutor, Auto Trainer, Kong wobble, or treat puzzle toys are also good ways to feed her her meals so that she has to work for the food more - to keep her busy on that and not chewing. Chewing article with more details: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Tiny
Jack Russell Terrier
2 Years
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Question
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Tiny
Jack Russell Terrier
2 Years

Tiny has been good. We leave her out for about 3 hours with plenty of chew toys and she hangs with her 3 year old brother. The other day she started ripping the rug after being gone for 30 minutes. I came home and took the rug away. Then I left again for another 30 minutes and she tore a large piece of the wool blanket that covers the couch. She has chewed the corner of the couch before but stopped and I also put a piece of tape over the tear and covered the couch with the blanket. So today I pier he back in her crate. She is well exercised.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
491 Dog owners recommended

Hello Donna, If he was previously fine being left out he probably just got bored one day and started tearing up the rug, then remembered how fun it is to chew things up to entertain himself so started on other items. This can happen occasionally for young dogs that are prone to chewing. You did the right thing by crating him again. I suggest keeping him crated while you are gone for about three months to break the new habit, then if he has not destroyed or chewed anything he shouldn't in that amount of time, and if he was previously fine when left out before this started, you can try leaving him out for small amounts of time to see if he is ready for more freedom again. Try only 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 45, minutes, then 1 hour, then 3 hours. Stop the freedom if he chews something up while easing into it, and wait a few more months before trying again - that means he is not ready yet. If he was never fine when left alone in the past, then I suggest waiting at least 6 months and at least 3 months of that time he should be free from any destructive chewing, before trying more freedom again. When you are home, work on commands like Leave It to teach him not to chew things he shouldn't, and stuff a hollow chew toy with his food and put it in the crate with him to teach him to love his own chew toys better and prefer those over your objects. Leave It method for teaching "Leave It" command: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Leonidas
Blue Nose Pitbull
1 Year
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Question
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Leonidas
Blue Nose Pitbull
1 Year

Hello guys i am faced with a big problem. I exercise my dog a ttotal of 3 -4 hours a day , have long walks with him etc. BUt in every appartment we move into , it justt keeps biting and tearing up the sofa. He might not chew on it for weeks and then one day i go home and i found pieces from the new sofa all around the floor. It is the 3rd sofa it has eaten and i am getting really frustrated and running out of ideas on how tot fix the issue. PLease help !

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
491 Dog owners recommended

Hello Ivan, First of all, he 100% needs to be crated when you are gone right now - partially because of his age and because he has developed a habit of chewing on the furniture right now and you need to prevent that from happening again while you are away while you work on addressing the issue while you are home at the same time. Second, check out the article linked below. Follow the tips on crate training and managing, as well as teaching commands like Leave It and Out. Pup needs to learn those things and those commands be enforced by you when you are home so that pup clearly understands that he is not supposed to chew the focus and he has a chance to work on impulse control while you are there to supervise and stop him quickly. Third, be sure to leave a dog food stuffed Kong or similar interesting toy for him to chew on while you are away or out of the room - in the crate for now. Kongs by themselves are honestly pretty boring but when you stuff them with dog food and goodies like liver paste it makes the chew toy interesting and actually teaches pup to chew on dog toys when bored. Chew toy chewing is actually something that often has to be trained by stuffing toys with dog food and giving them to pup in confined locations where that toy is the only option - like a crate or exercise pen. Fourth, you may not need this final step if you are diligent with the above training and crate pup while you are away for a year (which sounds like a long time - but 1 year could safe you 10+ years of chewing issues). If pup continues the behavior, you can also booby trap pup. This involves the use of an e-collar and hidden camera. Leave pup out of the crate and watch him from a camera outside. Whenever he begins to put his mouth on the couch (after you have worked a lot on leave it so he clearly understands not to by then), correct with the e-collar stimulation on his "working level" - which is the lowest level he indicates he can feel when you do some preliminary training with him before working with the couch. Every time he puts his mouth on the couch correct him while you are "gone". Whenever you are truly gone you will still need to crate him. You will need to catch him in the act multiple times during these hidden camera sessions and go at least 3 months without any chewing incidents before testing him out of the crate without you there hiding. When you are ready to test him, start small. Leave for 10 minutes and see how he did, then 20, then 30, then 1 hour, then 2 hours, then 3 hours, then 4 hours. Once he can handle 4 hours without incident consistently, he is likely ready for the whole day - until his bladder capacity dictates. To learn how to put the collar on him, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI Here is a video showing how to find his working level: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Purchase a remote electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing E-Collar Technologies Mini Educator for this. Other good brands are SportDog, Garmin, and Dogtra. If you are not comfortable with an e-collar then you can use a vibration collar (the Mini Educator is also a vibration mode) or unscented air remote controlled air spray collar. DO NOT use a citronella collar, buy the additional unscented air canister if the collar comes with the citronella and make sure that you use the unscented air. (Citronella collars are actually very harsh and the scent lingers instead of stopping when the behavior stops, making them ineffective and very confusing for training). Honestly, you will probably end up spending less using a stimulation based e-collar because the vibration or air is typically a lot less effective, and vibration can actually be more of a deterrent than a low level correction on a stimulation based collar. If you do end up needing to use an e-collar, don't skip the preliminary training and crate training - it will be less effective without the other training. Either commit to learning enough about e-collars and training to use them correctly or hire a professional who is very familiar with e-collar, behavior issues, and comes well recommended by their previous clients, to help you. Don't just put the collar on him and start pushing buttons - e-collars are a powerful tool that can either be fair and very effective or abusive and ineffective - depending on how you use them. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Sassy
French Bulldog
4 Years
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Question
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Sassy
French Bulldog
4 Years

Hi, we recently got another dog so my dog Sassy would have a friend to play with. Before our new dog (he is also 4 years and not a puppy) Sassy was great and would sleep all day and wasn’t destructive at all. Sassy loves our new dog and they play all day together. She has, however, started to chew on things when we are not home while they are playing. We have a video camera at home so we can watch them when we are gone. She always starts chewing on things while they are running and playing together. It is definitely not separation anxiety as she will do this when we are home as well (not near as bad though as we are there to stop it). We take our dogs on two long walks daily and they have multiple chew toys and regular toys to play with. I have tried getting dog puzzles and other activities to stimulate them more as well. I don’t want to have to put them in a kennel when we are gone if possible but I don’t know what else I can do. Thank you!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
491 Dog owners recommended

Hello Brianna, When the dogs are running they both get highly aroused and things like adrenaline are being released in the brain - this creates the opposite of calm. Even though pups don't normally chew while calm, they are in a completely different state while playing. When you are not there to supervise, no one is there to stop the chewing and teach them not to express their excitement that way - left without direction and correction for the behavior it can become a long-term habit and something that becomes a problem at times other than just playing; for this reason it really can't be allowed to happen while you aren't home to teach. You can try confining pups just in separate rooms from each other if both dogs are normally fine while separate - they can't be allowed to play while you are gone though. If they are still destructive while in separate rooms, they will need to be crated. The crating probably isn't forever. As the puppy gets older their interactions will probably calm down and they will simply enjoying hanging out with each other with less rough housing. If you have prevented a long-term destructive chewing habit leading up to that point, then at that point they can be left out together. When you first test this again, leave them for only 10 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 45 minutes, then 1 hour, then 3 hours. If they don't do well at any point, wait until they are even older to test again. If they do well at each interval, they are ready for more freedom together. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Raleigh
Mutt
11 Months
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Question
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Raleigh
Mutt
11 Months

Hi we have a puppy that likes to chew on everything. He is crate trained. We put him in there when we are gone from the house otherwise he will chew.Things like pillows, wood sticks from the yard(we have a doggie door that leads into our fenced yard)He had chew toys galore but they go missing after a while. We may find some in the back yard sometimes & will retrieve them back inside. We have 2 other adult dogs that do not chew. We decided not to crate him anymore at night because he cries & keeps us up all night so lately we have been letting him stay outside the crate at night. However this morning we awoke to find he had managed to pull one of the cushions off our leather couch & chew the underneath of it(not leather) & pull out the foam. My question is what do we need to do to stop him from chewing when we are home but asleep? PS we cant even put anything for him to lay on in his crate as he will destroy it.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
491 Dog owners recommended

Hello Alexia, First, pup 100% needs to be crated still at night - not only will you not be able to stop the destructive chewing if he isn't, you risk damage to your home, and pup could ingest something fatal without you knowing it. With that said, there is something you can do about the barking in the crate so you can sleep! Teach pup the Quiet command from the Quiet method linked below: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark When you are home, spend some time crating him for an hour or so during the day. When he stays quiet in the crate, sprinkle treats into the crate without opening the door, then after an hour let him back out. When he barks while in there, tell him Quiet once. If he keeps barking or gets quiet and starts again, calmly tell him "Ah Ah" while spraying a small puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate (only use unscented air and NOT citronella and only spray his side and NOT his face). Each time you reward or correct with the air, leave again. If he stays quiet for several minutes after a correction or reward, return and sprinkle more treats. During the day, also practice the crate manners protocol from the article linked below. He doesn't have to love going into the crate but he does need to learn how to be calm and okay in it. Loving the crate usually comes after 1 year of age. https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Since the above training is only done during the day to prepare him, you will do something a bit different at night. Practice the above training proactively during the day so that pup will learn how to be calm in the crate, go in when told, and stay quiet. At night, pup should begin to understand those things because of daytime practice so when pup barks at night, say "Quiet" one time and if pup doesn't get quiet and stay quiet, use the Pet Convincer to spray the small puff of air at his side, then go back to bed. Repeat this each time he barks if it has been less than 7 hours since he last went potty. At night, remove all food and water 2 hours before bedtime, take pup potty on a leash last thing right before bed (go with him with the leash even if you have a fenced in yard to make sure he actually goes right before bed and isn't playing), then when pup barks you can feel confident that it's just for attention and not a potty need if it's been less than 8 hours since his last potty trip. Example of Pet Convincer - Don't use citronella one - the smell lingers too long and they are too harsh. https://www.amazon.com/Pet-Convincer-Dog-Training-Device/dp/B000QWPWDM/ref=asc_df_B000QWPWDM/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=241919365438&hvpos=1o4&hvnetw=g&hvrand=4334165146951943395&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9010791&hvtargid=aud-801381245258:pla-456521603647&psc=1 As far as chewing during the day, check out the article I have linked below. Know that chewing until 1.5 years of age is normal for some dogs - few dogs are ready for more freedom until they are past that age. Teaching commands that help with impulse control - like Leave It and Out, confining when you can't supervise, and generally preventing pup from getting away with chewing is one of the most important things you can do - if the chewing is allowed to happen because you aren't confining and supervising enough it can turn into a long-term issue - where as most dogs will out grow it around 1.5 if you are really consistent and don't give too much freedom too early before then. Chewing article: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ As a general rule, dogs aren't ready for extra freedom until they are past all the destructive chewing phases - at least 1 year of age AND have gone at least 4 months without destroying anything they shouldn't. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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