Training

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2 min read

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How to Train Your Dog to Not Chew on Wires

Training

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2 min read

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1

Comments

How to Train Your Dog to Not Chew on Wires
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon1-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

He’s brought nothing but joy into your home since he arrived. The kids love him, as does your partner and any friends that come to stay. I mean what’s not to love? He’s playful, friendly and super good at cuddling. He’s always full of energy, so you do try and take him out for regular walks. However, it isn’t all smooth sailing. Your pooch does have some bad habits. One, in particular, gives you cause for concern: he’s started chewing wires. 

This could be a potentially huge problem. Firstly, there is the risk he hurts or even kills himself with an electric shock. But also, if you have young children in the house, you don’t want them stumbling upon live wires. There is also the financial cost of replacing all the wires he keeps digging his teeth into and the risk of fire. Training him not to chew wires could well save his life.

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Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to chew wires is thankfully pretty straightforward. You’ll need to employ a number of deterrence measures to keep him away. You will also need to find adequate ways of directing his energy elsewhere. This can be done by changing up his routine and introducing some new stimuli. Finally, you’ll need to use obedience commands to regain control, so he stops chewing on wires when instructed.

If he’s just a puppy he should respond to training swiftly. You could see results in just a week or two. If he’s older and this habit has been developing for many years, you may need a while longer. It could take up to six weeks to fully kick the habit. Get this training right though, and you could save yourself from hefty vet bills at the very least.

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Getting Started

Before you can start work, you’ll need to gather a few things. For one of the methods, you’ll need a water spray bottle, a deterrence collar, and robust wire casing. You’ll also need food puzzles and an array of toys.

Some tasty treats or his favorite food broken into small pieces will also be required. Set aside a few minutes each day for training, and try and be as vigilant as you can throughout the day.

Apart from that, you just need patience and a can-do attitude. Once you’ve ticked all those boxes, work can begin!

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The Deterrence Method

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Wire casing

Spend a morning securing all your wires with some robust casing. You can buy specific casing online that should keep dogs at bay. Alternatively, go down to your local hardware store and see what they have on offer. If your dog can’t get to the wires, he can’t chew them.

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Baby gates

You can also try fitting gates in the doors of problem rooms. That way you can only grant him access to the room when you are there to keep watch. This will mean he can’t chew wires when you aren’t around.

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‘NO’

It’s important you always react when you see him chewing. Rush over and give a firm ‘NO’. Don’t terrify him, but make sure he knows you mean business. This should make him think twice next time.

4

Water spray bottle

Keep a bottle close by and if you see him chewing, go over and give a quick spray near the face. He will soon start associating chewing the wires with negative consequences and lose interest. However, make sure you pull him away before you spray him. You do not want to spray water near the wires.

5

Deterrence collar

You can get remote controlled collars that emit an unpleasant spray of citronella when you hit the button. Use this every time you see him chewing and he’ll soon think better of it.

The Environment Method

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Exercise

Many dogs chew on wires because they are full of energy. Focus that energy elsewhere by giving him a long walk each day. You can also throw a tennis ball for a few minutes each day. The short sprinting will leave him napping in the evenings, instead of chewing through your wires.

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Attention

Make sure he gets enough attention from you. The chewing could be attention seeking behavior. So, dedicate 5 minutes twice a day, to playing around with him and stroking him. This may alleviate the problem.

3

Food puzzles

Give him food puzzles to get through. This will distract him from his bad habit. Some puzzles can keep dogs occupied for hours. He will soon forget about his other pastime.

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Never punish him

It is important you don’t punish him when you catch him. If you scare him then he may become aggressive or start acting out in other ways. You must always remove him calmly and deal with the situation in a controlled manner.

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Reward

Give him the odd treat whenever you see him come away from the wires. If you see him wander over, but lose interest, it’s vital you reward him. This will reinforce what is and isn’t the right behavior.

The Time Out Method

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Monitor

Make sure you are always keeping an eye on him when you are in the house. If you leave, try and ensure someone else is there to react if they catch him chewing on the wires. Consistency is key to stamping out the behavior quickly.

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Remove him

When you do catch him chewing, take him calmly by the collar and lead him out of the room. Put him in a room without toys for 30 seconds. This is going to be his time out period, where he realizes he’s done something wrong.

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Release him

Once his 30 seconds is up, open the door and let him re-join you. However, keep a close eye on him incase he heads back for the wires. If he does, you need to be ready to act again.

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Increase the sentence

If he does re-offend, take him back out of the room. This time, add another 30 seconds to his sentence. Add 30 seconds on each time until he realizes what he’s doing wrong. He will soon get the message and give up chewing.

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Encouragement

If you do see him heading for the wires, you can encourage him to come away. Hold out a toy or a treat. Then if he moves away, give him the reward and some verbal praise. The mixture of positive and negative reinforcement will speed up the process.

By James Barra

Published: 01/04/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Fritz

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toy poodle

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9 Months

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Question

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He barks when I’m not home

Jan. 20, 2022

Fritz's Owner

Expert avatar

Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Lily, How long has you had pup? Has this been going on for more than a month or is pup a recent rescue? There are a couple of routes you can take with the separation anxiety, depending on how pup responds and the severity of it. There is also something called separation boredom, which is not really anxiety but rather boredom based. Giving pup things to do, like dog food stuffed kongs, can help with boredom based issues. For anxiety, the first step is to work on building his independence and his confidence by adding a lot of structure and predictability into his routine. Things such as making him work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching him to remain inside a crate when the door is open. Change your routine surrounding leaving so that he does not anticipate alone time and build up his anxiety before you leave - which is hard for him to deescalate from, and be sure to continue to give him something to do in the crate during the day (such as a dog food stuffed Kong to chew on). Also, practice the Surprise method from the article I have linked below. If pup does fine out of the crate and the case is mild, you can do this in a dog proofed room instead of crate, but if pup is destructive when left alone or has potty accidents, pup is probably being given freedom out of the crate too soon, and needs to be crated while you are away until he is past that destructive phase around 18 months; this is the general protocol for separation anxiety. It is gentle but can take a very long time on its own for some dogs with more severe cases. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs. If you go this route, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction. Who is extremely knowledgeable about e-collar training, and can follow the protocol listed below, to help you implement the training. Building his independence and structure in his life will still be an important part of this protocol too. First, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3j882MAYDU Second, you will need an interrupter, such as an electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing only high quality brands though. For example, E-Collar Technologies Mini Educator or Garmin Delta Sport or Dogtra for this. If you are not comfortable with an e-collar then you can use a vibration collar (the Mini Educator and Garmin should also have 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 smell - punisher lingers a long time so the dog continues to be corrected even after they stop the behavior). The vibration or spray collars are less likely to work than stimulation e-collars though, so you may end up spending more money by not purchasing an e-collar first. The Mini Educator has very low levels of stimulation, that can be tailored specifically to your dog. It also has vibration and beep tones that you can try using first, without having to buy additional tools. Next, set up a camera to spy on him. If you have two smart devices, like tablets or smartphones, you can Skype or Facetime them to one another with your pup’s end on mute, so that you can see and hear him but he will not hear you. Video baby monitors, video security monitors with portable ways to view the video, GoPros with the phone Live App, or any other camera that will record and transmit the video to something portable that you can watch outside live will work. Next, put the e-collar on him while he is outside of the crate, standing, and relaxed. Turn it to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if he responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning his head, moving his ears, biting his fur, moving away from where he was, or changing his expression. If he does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when he is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing his reaction at that level until he indicates a little bit that he can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM A modern, high quality collar will have so many levels that each level should be really subtle and he will likely respond to a low level stimulation. It's uncomfortable but not the harsh shock many people associate with such collars if done right. Once you have found the right stimulation level for him and have it correctly fitted on him, have him wear the collar around with it turned off or not being stimulated for several hours or days if you can (take it off at night to sleep though). Next, set up your camera to spy on him while he is in the crate. Put him into the crate while he is wearing the collar and leave. Spy on him from outside. Leave however you normally would. As soon as you hear him barking or see him start to try to escape or destroy the crate from the camera, push the stimulation button once. Every time he barks or tries to get out of the crate, stimulate him again. If he does not decrease his barking or escape attempts at least a little bit after being stimulated seven times in a row, then increase the stimulation level by one level. He may not feel the stimulation while excited so might need it just slightly higher. Do not go higher than three more levels on the mini-educator or two more levels on another collar with less levels right now though because he has not learned what he is supposed to be doing yet. For example, if his level is 13 out of 100 levels on the Mini Educator, don't go past level 16 right now. The level you end up using on him on the mini educator collar will probably be low to medium, within the first forty levels of the one-hundred to one-hundred-and-twenty-five levels, depending on the model you purchase. If it is not, then have a professional evaluate whether you have the correct "working level" for him. If he continues to ignore the collar, then go up one more stimulation level and if that does not work, make sure that the collar is turned on, fitted correctly, and working. After five minutes to ten minutes, as soon as your dog stays quiet and is not trying to escape for five seconds straight, go back inside to the dog, sprinkle several treats into the crate without saying anything, then leave again. Practice correcting him from outside when he barks or tries to escape, going back inside and sprinkling treats when he stays quiet, for up to 30 minutes at first. After 30 minutes -1 hour of practicing this, when he is quiet, go back inside and sprinkle more treats. This time stay inside. Do not speak to him or pay attention to him for ten minutes while you walk around and get stuff done inside. When he is being calm, then you can let him out of the crate. When you let him out, do it the way Jeff does is in this video below. Opening and closing the door until your dog is not rushing out. You want him to be calm when he comes out of the crate and to stay calm when you get home. That is why you need to ignore him when you get home right away. Also, keep your good byes extremely boring and calm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5GqzeLzysk Put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with him also. He may not want it right now, but once he is less anxious after training he will likely enjoy it and that will help him to enjoy the crate more, especially since he is so food motivated. First, he may need his anxious state of mind interrupted so that he is open to learning other ways to behave. Once it's interrupted, give him a food stuffed Kong in the crate for him to relieve his boredom instead of barking, since he will need something other than barking to do at that point. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Jan. 20, 2022


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