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

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
1 Vote
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 Claim Furniture Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
2 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?

The Deter Method

ribbon-method-2
Least Recommended
1 Vote
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?
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Written by Laurie Haggart

Published: 11/13/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Bruce
Beagle
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bruce
Beagle
1 Year

He chews on my couch he ruined it .

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
244 Dog owners recommended

In a dog’s mind, if something is within reach then it’s on offer. Certain items are especially appealing: eyeglasses, books, cell phones, television remotes, pillows and upholstery. Plastic is wonderfully chewy and when it is imbibed with our smell because we hold onto these things constantly, it can be irresistible. Teaching a specific command to ward off chewing is a good way to give your pup appropriate direction. A good one to start with is “Leave it.” Insufficient exercise and mental stimulation can drive your adult dog to find destructive forms of entertainment, so it’s up to you to meet his needs. If ugly winter weather keeps you inside, play indoor dog games with him. Fetch, hide and seek, and tug-of-war (played correctly) are great fun and exercise for both of you. There are many entertaining dog puzzles on the market, too, and you can even make your own. Just remember that many of these are meant to be enjoyed with you and not left alone with your dog. The only 100% effective way to save your possessions from destruction is to keep them out of your dog’s reach. If eviscerating upholstered furniture is a hobby, your dog must be kept in a crate or a gated dog-proof room when unsupervised. Stuff hollow rubber toys with treats or moistened kibble and give them to your dog when you are away, so he will have something acceptable to do in your absence. What about all those wonderful toys that your dog has? If they are lying around all the time, they aren’t special. Rotate them, only having two or three, at most, available at a time. Keep favorites out of her reach, only to be used when playing with you. This is what keeps it special; time with you is the magic ingredient.

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Question
Koda
German Shepherd
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Koda
German Shepherd
1 Year

He chews and rips apart chairs in my living room IN my presence even when i tell him no and try to block access of them from him. When i slightly push him away from the chairs- he tries to bite me. I've tried bitter apple spray and more types of taste deterrents yet none of them seem to be working. My chairs are getting torn apart because I'm unable to stop him. Rather than chewing, its more of a aggressive growling and ripping towards the chairs. I've also tried removing the chairs from the area but he will just try to find something else to bite. I exercise him for 3-3.5 hours a day. What should I do?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
244 Dog owners recommended

In a dog’s mind, if something is within reach then it’s on offer. Certain items are especially appealing: eyeglasses, books, cell phones, television remotes, pillows and upholstery. Plastic is wonderfully chewy and when it is imbibed with our smell because we hold onto these things constantly, it can be irresistible. Teaching a specific command to ward off chewing is a good way to give your pup appropriate direction. A good one to start with is “Leave it.” Insufficient exercise and mental stimulation can drive your adult dog to find destructive forms of entertainment, so it’s up to you to meet his needs. If ugly winter weather keeps you inside, play indoor dog games with him. Fetch, hide and seek, and tug-of-war (played correctly) are great fun and exercise for both of you. There are many entertaining dog puzzles on the market, too, and you can even make your own. Just remember that many of these are meant to be enjoyed with you and not left alone with your dog. The only 100% effective way to save your possessions from destruction is to keep them out of your dog’s reach. If eviscerating upholstered furniture is a hobby, your dog must be kept in a crate or a gated dog-proof room when unsupervised. Stuff hollow rubber toys with treats or moistened kibble and give them to your dog when you are away, so he will have something acceptable to do in your absence. What about all those wonderful toys that your dog has? If they are lying around all the time, they aren’t special. Rotate them, only having two or three, at most, available at a time. Keep favorites out of her reach, only to be used when playing with you. This is what keeps it special; time with you is the magic ingredient.

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Question
princess
Pit bull
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
princess
Pit bull
7 Months

She chews on the couch she only stops when i walk towards her or yell really loud but eventually she goes back to the couch. she has tons of interactive toys and we go outside daily and run around in the house. i cover the couch with blankets and she’s pulls them off and bites some more.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
244 Dog owners recommended

Hello. Dogs often learn to ignore the word no because we use it for everything. You can try teaching your dog leave it. Leave it is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone/not go after/not get into. Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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Question
Ellie
German Shepherd
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Ellie
German Shepherd
2 Years

She is chewing my furniture. First the ottoman, then the chair cushion and once that was gone she started chewing the arm of that chair. She chews holes in all my blankets too.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
962 Dog owners recommended

Hello Amy, I recommend crate training pup and crate pup when you are not there and at night. I also recommend working on the steps from the article below - teaching commands like Leave It, using a deterrent spray on objects she chews over and over, and providing dog food stuffed chew toys to train her to chew those instead by making them more enticing. Chewing article: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Winnie
Schapendoes
11 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Winnie
Schapendoes
11 Months

Is a demon on the lead she pulls & barks at everything that moves . She is not pleasurable to walk .

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
962 Dog owners recommended

Hello Marie, Depending on why pup is barking, there are two routes you can take. For fearfulness that's triggering the reactivity, I recommend desensitizing pup like the videos linked below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY7JrteQBOQ&list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a&index=3&t=9s Barking series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAA4pob0Wl0W2agO7frSjia1hG85IyA6a For barking that's not due to fear, check out the video linked below. I would hire a professional trainer to help with this type of training since you might be dealing with pup being reactive due to aggression, and aggressive dogs can redirect their aggression to whoever is closest, so extra knowledge and handling skills might be needed, to teach you in person how to train pup. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8s_MlqDNE Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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