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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.
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.
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
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.
Wait and watch
Observe your dog until you catch her chewing on an object that you don't want in her mouth.
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.
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.
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.
The Run and Play Method
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.
Grab the leash
Put your dog on a leash and head out for a brisk walk or jog.
Hit the yard
Take your dog out into your backyard and engage her in some fetch exercises.
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!
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.
The Crate to Freedom Method
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.
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.
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.
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.
By Erin Cain
Published: 02/22/2018, edited: 01/08/2021