How to Train a Golden Retriever to Stop Chewing

Medium
2-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You walk into the living room, and there it is: a brand new book shredded on the floor, your favorite shoes gnawed on and torn up, and your accent pillow, well, missing its stuffing. The culprit behind all this damage is entirely clear: your Golden Retriever.

Although this breed is best known for its charming, engaging personality, this dog was designed to be a sport dog assisting hunters in carefully retrieving downed prey such as waterfowl. As such, the Golden Retriever is a dog that is inherently mouthy. Combine genetics with puppy teething and youthful shenanigans, and you have a house covered with the remnants of your shoes.

You can successfully train your Golden to stop chewing. Understand that you are working to some degree against the dog’s instincts, but with the right training, patience, and consistency, you can show your dog the way you want her to behave around the house.

Defining Tasks

It’s vitally important for both your furniture and home belongings and your Golden Retriever’s safety that you help her to curb her chewing habits. Damage to your personal belongings is costly as it is, but even more problematic is the danger of your dog ingesting something foreign that she has chewed. If your Golden swallows a piece of shoe or stuffing, that can cause a blockage in the intestinal system. Expensive surgery will be necessary to remove the items, and if not discovered quickly enough, your dog can die.

Additionally, training your dog to stop chewing, through substitution or redirection, gives your dog practice at improving her listening skills and better understanding your expectations concerning her behavior. With time, practice, consistency, and patience, you can teach your Golden Retriever to stop chewing.

Getting Started

The three training procedures below involve different settings, and you might find that one location works better for your dog depending on her energy level. Other items, like chew toys and treats, may also be beneficial to have on hand for training.

Of utmost importance is training your dog with consistency and patience. If your Golden Retriever is a puppy, understand that it may take a bit longer for her to learn what to chew and what not to chew. Patience is still required even when training an older dog who may not have been taught correctly or at all. Keep training sessions short and always take a break if you or your dog get frustrated.

The Switch and Substitute Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Choose an appropriate chew toy
Based on your dog's age and chewing capacity, select a toy that is designed for a dog who chews. Make sure that it is sturdy and doesn't include anything dangerous your dog could eat or choke on.
Step
2
Wait and watch
Observe your dog until you catch her chewing on an object that you don't want in her mouth.
Step
3
Make the trade
Give your dog the command to "drop it" and once she has let go of the item she should not be chewing, offer her the chew toy in its place.
Step
4
Don't engage
Your Golden might not be willing to drop the treasured item right away, so be patient and repeat steps 1 - 3 as necessary until your dog better understands what she can and cannot chew on.
Step
5
Be proactive
Any time you see your Golden chewing on appropriate toys, praise and reward her. Also remove temptation from your dog's reach; make sure any items that you don't want chewed up are safely stowed.
Recommend training method?

The Run and Play Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Identify your Golden's boredom
Many Golden Retrievers end up chewing destructively because they are bored and have energy to expend. As soon as you see your dog start to chew on items she shouldn't place in her mouth, spring into action.
Step
2
Grab the leash
Put your dog on a leash and head out for a brisk walk or jog.
Step
3
Hit the yard
Take your dog out into your backyard and engage her in some fetch exercises.
Step
4
Go for a swim
If the weather is appropriate and you have a pool available, let your Golden give swimming a try. Not only are many Golden natural swimmers, but it's an excellent, healthy way for your dog to exercise. Plus, she will nap for hours afterwards!
Step
5
Play indoors
If you can't take your Golden outside the moment you catch her chewing, then grab a chew-appropriate toy and engage her in play. A tug-of-war toy or a healthy chew stick may be just what your dog needs to avoid chewing on your shoes. You can also train her brain by using treat puzzles to keep her mind and body from succumbing to boredom.
Recommend training method?

The Crate to Freedom Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Choose a crate
Confine your dog when you are going to be out for awhile or when you can't supervise her while at home. Get a crate that is large enough for your Golden to comfortably stand, turn around, and lie down.
Step
2
Make it comfy
Place items in the crate that will be comforting to your dog and alleviate any boredom or anxiety she may experience. Put a comfortable blanket or liner, a favorite (non-stuffed) toy, and even a non-destructive food-puzzle like a Kong.
Step
3
Move to an enclosed area
Once your Golden has proven trustworthy in a crate, move on to keeping her in an enclosed area of the house. Use baby gates to prevent her from going into areas where she is not allowed.
Step
4
Proof and test
When your Golden has handled the enclosed area well for a week, test her by allowing her more freedoms throughout the house. Make sure you've dog-proofed the areas you are allowing her in, and have plenty of chew-appropriate treats ready when she wants to chew on something.
Recommend training method?
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Written by Erin Cain

Published: 02/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Finn
Golden Retriever
9 Months
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Question
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Finn
Golden Retriever
9 Months

We rescued him 1.5 months ago at 7 or 8 months old. Foster mom said he was crate trained which is so far from true. He unlocked the latch on the crate, pushed out the bottom and tore the carpet up in the room he was in. He’s escaped out of it. It wasn’t working. We gave him freedom of the living room with our other dog who is an absolutely incredible dog. Closed all doors, put up the babies toys and blocked off things we didn’t want him to chew. He managed to find a way to get something. He’s taken ornaments off the Christmas tree and destroyed countless of them so we moved all the ornaments up and gated it off. He’s destroyed his dog bed, manages to find baby toys, books, shoes, literally everything and anything. He is for the most part house broken but when you discipline him he pees and he constant drips pee everywhere. So the house now smells like pee and we can’t stand it. Plus with 2 kids and 1 being a baby, we can’t have that for the baby. We’re at a loss and I’m not sure if we can fix this. I’ve always rescued and I’ve never given up on a rescue but I’m lost and I’m not sure what to do.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kaela, I would go back to the crate, but for to train pup to address the escaping and destructiveness in the crate, using a video camera and remote training collar, along with treats, to do so. Separation anxiety e-collar and treats video – James Penrith https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3j882MAYDU 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. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ 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. You will need an interrupter, such as a remote electronic collar, e-collar, with a wide range of levels. I recommend purchasing only a high quality collar, such as 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. To learn how to put the collar on him, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI 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 I would also put a food stuffed Kong into the crate with him. Once he is less anxious he will likely enjoy it and that will help him to enjoy the crate more. First, he probably needs 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. I would purchase a high quality crate that's more escape-proof as well. https://www.k9ofmine.com/heavy-duty-dog-crates/ Once pup is at least eighteen months old, has gone at least six months without destroying anything in your home they should leave alone, is fully potty trained, and is okay with being left alone after doing training in the crate, then you can ease pup into more freedom out of the crate while away gradually. To do this, leave the home for just five minutes while spying on pup with a camera from outside. If pup does well, leave for ten minutes the next time, then fifteen, twenty, thirty, fourt-five, one hour, hour and a half, ect...If pup doesn't do well one of the times, go back to crating for another 1-3 months then test again after that time. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
ruby
Golden Retriever
9 Months
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Question
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ruby
Golden Retriever
9 Months

chews and swallows things

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello John, First, check out the chewing article I have linked below. I would tackle this from multiple angles - crate pup when away and at night, teach Leave It, use deterrent sprays, and provide dog food stuffed chew toys (stuffing with dog food part is important) to help teach pup to prefer their own toys instead. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ For severe chewers you may also need to use low level remote collar training and a camera to spy on pup. I would only do this with the help of a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues, is very experienced with low level remote collar training "working level", and who combines such training with a foundation of obedience and positive reinforcement also - teaching pup Leave It, enforcing that with the remote collar to pup understands the correction was for not leaving it once leave it is learned, and rewarding pup with a treat when pup chooses to obey. You want pup to fully understand a remote collar correction as a consequence for disobeying something they understand and have the ability to obey, and not just as something random that's happening to them. Most chewers don't need the additional remote collar training. They just need more training and management of freedom until they get past the heavy chewing stage around 18 months. Some compulsive chewers will need the additional training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Leo
Golden Retriever
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Leo
Golden Retriever
1 Year

we put him outside at night while we sleep and he chews the carpet

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
257 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/carpeting. 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
Tanner
Golden Retreiver
1 Year
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Question
0 found helpful
Tanner
Golden Retreiver
1 Year

Our very funny boy Tanner turned 1 in June of 2021. it seems like at any moment he does not get attention, he finds house items hes not supposed to chew (and knows it) he finds and come parading with it in his mouth around us. like "see.. look guys.. look at me.. i have a sandal/sock/shoe" we usually get up and not give him any positive reinforcements for this. we do get him to "drop it" and he most of the time does on the first command. But then, when we return to whatever it is we were doing, he finds something else and repeats the behavior. He is exercised 3 times daily (often times more). Running in a 3 acre backyard, walks, swim, tug of war, fetch, chasing etc..
Why does this continue? He also barks! at times its for attention (it seems) other times, its random and were 1 on 1 with him and he barks at us. its really confusing. its almost like he is talking to us. often, he barks when the "play" is over and we are attempting to go back to "calm".

Thank you in advance,
Danielle (Tanner's Mama)
ps. he is the funniest dog i have ever met! his personality is unreal! he loves to be a jokster.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1123 Dog owners recommended

Hello Danielle, I would start by providing pup with acceptable things to carry around and making those items more exciting than your things. A good way to do this is to fill a hollow chew toy with dog food or treats. To stuff a kong you can either place pup's dry dog food loosely in it and cover 1/2 of the opening with a larger treat - so the dog food will dispense more slowly, or place pup's food in a bowl, cover with water, let sit out until the food turns to mush, mix the mush with a little liver paste, treat paste, or peanut butte (avoid xylitol! - it's extremely toxic to dogs and a common sweetener substitute), place a straw through the kong's holes, loosely stuff the kong with the mush, place in a baggie, and free overnight. Remove the straw before giving pup and grab the kong from the freezer as needed - for a time-released treat. You can also purchase several durable hollow chew toys and stuff them at the same time so that you have a stash in the freezer to grab from as needed. Second, I would practice Leave It proactively. Once pup understands that leave it means don't pick something up at all, then I would specifically practice sessions with your items that pup tends to love most. When pup can leave those things alone during practice, then keep treats hidden in your pocket in a ziploc snack baggie and plant some tempting items around, like a shoe or sock in the middle of the floor. Practice telling pup to leave it as you go about the day and come across the planted objects, rewarding pup when they obey and when they pick up their own toy instead. The above may be enough with consistency and practice, but if pup is especially persistent, in addition to the above, you may also need to use a low level remote training collar with at least 60 levels of stimulation and vibration, so that you can use the lowest setting pup will respond to as an interrupter. I would set up a camera to spy on pup in areas where you have planted some objects and correct with the remote from the other room whenever pup puts their mouth on something unacceptable. Smart devices with skype, facetime or zoom, a gopro with the liveapp, video baby monitor, video security camera like wyze, and similar devices might be something you already own that you could use as a camera to spy. Only use a high quality e-collar for effectiveness and safety, such as garmin, e-collar technologies, dogtra, sportdog. Collar fitting and settings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM I suspect both the barking and retrieving are attention seeking. The retrieving is also something that pup is very genetically prone to want to do. A good hunting retriever enjoys carrying around and delivering objects. He is going to want something in his mouth no matter what, so the main goal here is to teach pup to only pick up his own objects. In addition to doing that, I would teach pup Out too - which means leave the area, and Place, so that if pup is being pushy delivering you even his own toys, you can instruct pup to give you space when it's not time to play. Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Place command: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s For the barking I would teach Quiet. As pup improves transition the training to you only rewarding for pup staying quiet for a long period of time, not just barking then stopping again, or pup may eventually start barking then stopping in hopes of a reward later on. Pup seems very smart. Not all dogs will pick up on the barking then stopping, but the smart ones sometimes do. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark I would also use Out to send pup away when barking at you, since that removes your presence from pup, and thus attention. Once pup knows Quiet and Out, you may find that rewarding pup for not barking in general creates enough of a habit of being quiet, if pup is still doing the behavior, you can use an unscented pet convincer, which is a small canister of pressurized air, to briefly blow a puff of air at pup's side as an interrupter for the barking too. Don't use citronella though because it's too harsh and lingers too long to not be confusing, and do not blow pup in the face with it. They can be a little more work to stay one step ahead of, but I personally love the ones with tons of personality! I used to have a Border Collie because he passed at an old age, who would do similar things. You always had to out think him and appreciate his quirks, but he was an absolute delight, in part because of his quirks. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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mushka
Golden Retriever
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
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mushka
Golden Retriever
1 Year

chews on everything

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

Dogs inappropriately chew for a variety of reasons, including: Boredom Separation anxiety Lack of training or lack of appropriate outlets of energy Lack of “dog-proofing” Chewing, on its own, is a normal behavior for dogs. Puppies typically chew when they’re teething or as a way to convey frustration. Chewing also helps to maintain jaw strength and muscle mass, and can help dogs to self-soothe, relieve stress, and avoid boredom. To deter from inappropriate chewing, It is important for pet parents to provide safe chew toys and keep inappropriate items out of reach. Ways to Prevent Destructive Chewing Teething toys, especially those that can be frozen, are a great way to relieve pain and soothe gums for puppies. Adult dogs even like toys specifically designed to strengthen teeth, but be sure to supervise their play, since toys may break into tiny, ingestible pieces. Damaged toys should be thrown away immediately. Caution should also be taken with chewing bones, which can splinter off and be ingested, resulting in gastrointestinal upset or injury. Bones can also cause dental injuries like tooth fractures or excessive wear. The best way to prevent destructive chewing is “dog proofing” your home. This involves removing all valuable and dangerous objects from your dog’s space. Crate training helps immensely, as this provides a safe place that a dog can call their own. It also prevents destruction of furniture when your dog is unsupervised. How Boredom and Anxiety Contribute to Destructive Behavior If destructive chewing is associated with separation anxiety, addressing the underlying anxiety will help to correct the behavior. In severe cases of anxiety, a professional trainer or anxiety medication may be necessary to address the underlying issues. Boredom is also a common contributor to destructive chewing. Regular exercise is a great way to minimize boredom and keep your pet healthy. Base your dog’s exercise regimen on their age, agility level, and underlying medical issues. High-energy dogs may love a brisk run or trip to the dog park, while older or ailing dogs may be happy with a walk around the block. Exercise helps to stimulate a dog’s mind and makes them less likely to act out of frustration and damage items around the house. Dog walking and running services can help to break up the monotony of a long day alone. Extroverted dogs may benefit from a housemate or by joining a dog pack for walks. Investigating what options are available in your neighborhood can help add excitement to your dog’s daily routine. Indoor enrichment toys can help to reduce boredom for pets that are alone during the day. Food puzzles dispense treats when solved, which is both entertaining and intellectually stimulating. Parents who want to check in with their pups during the day can try out a treat dispensing camera. These toys allow you to check in on and chat with your pet during the day, as well as provide them with a treat for good behavior. The Benefits of Training and Positive Reinforcement Creating a strong foundation of training for a puppy can be helpful to stop destructive behaviors before they start. Going to training classes can teach your dog basic commands, which can be expanded upon to create boundaries at home. Some dogs respond well to clicker training and this can be used to establish right and wrong behaviors. Physical discipline and yelling should never be used to correct bad behaviors. Redirection to show them appropriate chew toys and positive reinforcement is encouraged to lead dog’s down the right path. Ultimately, the best ways to avoid destructive chewing are limited access to inappropriate items, regular exercise, and appropriate training. If underlying medical conditions are suspected, follow up with a veterinarian and/or professional trainers.

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