How to Train Your Dog to Not Chew on Furniture

How to Train Your Dog to Not Chew on Furniture
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-2 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

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.

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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.

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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.

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The Positive Habit Method

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1 Vote

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1 Vote

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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.

2

Use interactive feeders

Fill hollow rubber toys or puzzle feeders with food at meal time.

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.

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.

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.

The Claim Furniture Method

Effective

2 Votes

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Effective

2 Votes

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1

Block access

If your dog has started chewing on a piece of furniture, block him from access to that furniture when not supervised.

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”.

3

Push away

Tap your dog on the side to exert leadership and claim your space, push him away with your body.

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.

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.

The Deter Method

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1

Use taste deterrent

Spray furniture with a commercial non-toxic, bad tasting chewing deterrent

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.

3

Use noise maker

When your dog approaches the furniture and starts chewing, activate the noise making device.

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.

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.

By Laurie Haggart

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

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Violet

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Border Collie

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Two Years

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Question

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When kids are wrestling or fighting or loud commotion she will bite holes in things right at those moments

Nov. 13, 2022

Violet's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, It sounds like there may be some anxiety and arousal triggering the biting, opposed to normal chewing. Border Collies generally have a strong desire to protect and herd the animals they are charged with. In a family with kids, often those desires get aimed toward the kids, where the dog wants to protect, and control the movements of the kids to keep the kids behaving and staying where the dog thinks they should be for their own safety; when kids play really roughly, it can worry the dog and the dog may direct their feelings about that toward whatever is closest, like an object to chew. The good news is that a lot of dogs in that situation direct it toward the kids and there is a lot of barking and nipping and circling, from the dog trying to stop the kids from being rough. Your dog is actually trying to avoid that and direct it somewhere more acceptable. I would work on teaching a "Take It" command and experimenting with different toys. Find what pup loves best, including trying toys stuffed with kibble and treats, Tuffy toys (durable stuffed toys for dogs who like the shred things), safe durable squeaky toys, ect...Once you find what pup loves, whenever the kids are being rough, give your dog that toy, telling them to take it, to start teaching them to direct their efforts toward something acceptable. At the same time, work on desensitizing your dog to the kids' play. I would hire a private in home trainer for this part, using treats or things that your dog loves, paired with the kids playing in the background and rewarding your dog for ignoring the kids, paying attention to you and obeying obedience commands from you, and generally rewarding whenever your dog is calm and not chewing something unacceptable, or chewing the acceptable toy you gave them instead of something unacceptable. If the roughhouse is still too much, with the help of your trainer, you can also teach your dog to run into a different room, into a crate, by conditioning them that whenever the boys play rough, you will reward them in that crate, so they start to learn to go into another room where its quiet on their own, to avoid what's triggering that internal drive to begin with. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Nov. 14, 2022

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Harley

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Chiweenie

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8 weeks

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Question

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I need help potty training him

Sept. 12, 2022

Harley's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello, Are you wanting to teach him to go potty outside or use an indoor potty? If your end goal is outside potty training, check out the Crate Training method from the article I have linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside If your end goal is pup using an indoor potty like a pee pad, check out the Exercise Pen method from the article I have linked below. The method mentions a doggie litter box, but other indoor potties can also be used with that method, like a disposable real grass pad or pee pad. Some dogs do fine with pee pads, but others struggle with accidents, confusing the fabric of the pee pad with carpets and rug fabric. In those cases, I would use a litter box with dog litter or a disposable real grass pad in place of a pee pad. Exercise Pen method: https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Sept. 12, 2022


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