How to Train a Pit Bull to Not Chew Things

Easy
1-4 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

It’s difficult not to give Fido exactly what they want. I mean he's always the center of attention and it isn’t hard to see why. Pit Bulls are larger than life and full of energy. You take them out for a walk and they still look like they could run a marathon. Now that’s fine most of the time and keeps you fit. 

However, Fido’s energy also spills out into problematic behaviors, such as chewing things. You often come home from work to see he has chewed something to pieces. Now you can live with it when it’s an old pair of your partner’s shoes that they have been refusing to throw out. But when it’s your expensive new rug, well then something needs to be done. Training your Pit Bull not to chew things means no more unnecessary destruction.

Defining Tasks

Thankfully, training a Pit Bull not to chew things isn’t as complicated as many owners think. The first thing you need to do is introduce a number of deterrence measures. You will also need to divert their attention to something more productive. You will also need to identify and address the underlying cause of the chewing behavior.

If Fido is just a puppy then training could take just a week or two. This is because Pit Bulls are most receptive and keen to please when they are young. However, if they are older and they have been chewing for many years then you may need several weeks to break the habit. Persevere with training and you will find it far easier to stamp out a range of other bad habits too. Finally, this type of training will help you discover new ways to mentally stimulate and challenge the pooch.

Getting Started

Before training can start, you will need to gather a few bits. A few toys your dog is allowed to chew will be needed. Stock up on tasty treats or small pieces of their favorite foods. You will also need a water bottle and a deterrence collar for one of the methods below. 

Set aside just a few minutes a day for training. However, try to be as present and vigilant as possible to address any chewing behavior.

Once you have all that, just bring enthusiasm and patience, then you can get to work!

The Deterrence Method

ribbon-method-1
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Remove the temptation
If Fido chews one or two items or materials in particular or, then try removing them. Simply swapping the rug for a new material, for example, may be enough to stop the problem in its tracks.
Step
2
Access limitation
If they go to certain rooms to chew particular objects, consider isolating that room. You can use baby gates or simply keep the door shut if you are not there to supervise them.
Step
3
‘NO’
You can also go over and give a stern ‘NO’ whenever you catch them chewing. Don’t terrify them, but make sure you get the message across. Also, make sure you react within a few seconds otherwise they may not associate the scolding with the problem behavior.
Step
4
Water spray bottle
Carry a water bottle with you at all times. Then whenever you catch your Pit Bull chewing, give a quick spray of water near their face. This will quickly get them associating chewing with negative consequences.
Step
5
Deterrence collar
If the stern ‘NO’ and water bottle don’t do the trick, upgrade to a deterrence collar. They are available from online and local pet stores. Simply hit the remote button whenever you catch them chewing and an unpleasant spray of citronella will be emitted.
Recommend training method?

The Stimulation Method

ribbon-method-2
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Exercise
Your Pit Bull may be chewing because they are full of energy. So, try taking Fido for a longer walk each day. Alternatively, spend a few minutes throwing a ball. If they are tired when they are at home they won’t have the energy to chew through your furniture.
Step
2
Chew toys
These are particularly effective if Fido is a puppy. Their teething can cause them to want to chew, just like in babies. So, give them some chew treats or toys to sink their teeth into instead.
Step
3
Food puzzles
Leaving food puzzles out when you go out to work may prevent chewing. This is because not only will it distract Fido all day, but they will be able to alleviate that chewing temptation through the actual toy.
Step
4
Swap
Whenever you do catch them chewing something they shouldn't, remove the item from their mouth and encourage the dog to chew a specific toy instead. Then give them a treat and some verbal praise. The positive reinforcement will soon get them associating chewing with happy consequences.
Step
5
See a vet
If none of the above steps work, you may want to consider taking your dog to a vet. It may be that they have a medical problem that is causing considerable pain that the chewing behavior is an attempt to relieve.
Recommend training method?

The Time Out Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Preparation
Choose an easily accessible room in the house and then clear it of toys or items Fido would normally chew. This is going to be their time-out space where they are taken if they chew.
Step
2
Take them away
As soon as you see your Pit Bull chewing, go over and take them by the collar into the time-out room. Don’t say anything or get aggressive, you don’t want to scare them. Instead remain calm at all times.
Step
3
30 seconds
Leave Fido in the time-out space for 30 seconds. Don’t talk or communicate, just ignore the pup. When the time is up you can then release them back into the house.
Step
4
Increase the sentence
If you catch your Pit Bull chewing again, calmly take them by the collar and lead them back into the time-out space. However, this time leave them there for an additional 30 seconds. Now all you need to do is keep increasing the time you leave them there for by 30 seconds each time, until they get message.
Step
5
Consistency
Sit everyone in the house down and make sure you all respond the same way. If one of you giggles or doesn’t react, then you will confuse Fido and push back the end result. So consistency is key.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Petey
Labstaff
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Petey
Labstaff
1 Year

Petey has almost a dozen toys outside to chew and play with. He is chewing and destroying outside things. He knocks over flower pots, he chews the patio furniture, he has chewed through our lighting and we've had to replace a lot of things. We got him at what the shelter said was 8 months old (he'd already been in the shelter for 3 or 4 months) if we go by that, he is around a year to a year and a month or two old. He loves all of his toys. While we're at work, he stays outside on our property (he has the run of about 2 acres of land and hidey holes when he wants them) with our 4 year old Lab/Coon boy. The two boys love to play hard and rough, but are both gentle with all other animals and humans. He has destroyed so many things that we're at a loss at this point. Our daughter (he is technically her dog) is trying to figure it out and since it is all our furniture I'm trying to help as much as possible.

Please, help???

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Michelle, I would start by teaching pup Leave It and working on that until pup is very good at it with food, then begin practicing with items pup tends to chew, rewarding with a treat if pup leaves the item alone. Leave It section: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ I would limit pup's freedom with crate training while you are still in the process of training, instead of giving freedom right now, since you won't be able to prevent the chewing while not with pup, and need to establish some good habits instead before things get worse. If he is not already used to a crate, expect crying at first. When he cries and you know he doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give him a dog food stuffed hollow chew toy to help him adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness. If he continues protesting for long periods of time past 3-5 days, you can use a Pet Convincer. Work on teaching "Quiet" but using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell him "Quiet" when he barks and cries. If he gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If he disobeys your command and keep crying or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at his side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If he stays quiet after you leave you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward quietness. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Once pup knows Leave It well, I would walk around the property following up. Whenever you catch him starting to chew anything I would command Leave It, and correct with a low level e-collar correction, so pup associates chewing certain things with the Leave It instruction and correction for chewing. Reward whenever you catch pup chewing something appropriate like their own toy, so they understand that certain things are okay to chew. You are going to have to only give pup monitored freedom at this age, rewarding leaving things alone and appropriate chewing (stuffing pup's hollow chew toys with yummy dog food and treats can encourage pup to chew those instead), and correcting pup when they chew things they have been told to leave alone. When you can't monitor pup you will need to confine pup away from things they can chew until they are trained, otherwise the training won't be effective if pup is sometimes able to chew and other times corrected for it and it's not consistent. If you can do the above consistently, often a dog's desire to chew will decrease as they age, but they need to have a period of several months where good habits are being encouraged instead, for chewing preferences to change. That is one reason why indoor dogs are crated while young when people are away - to prevent destructive chewing habits from becoming long term until pup matures enough to not chew as much. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Petey's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Sky
Pit bull
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Sky
Pit bull
9 Months

Chewed up leather couch and her bed pad twice only when we leave her alone.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Albert, It sounds like the issue is likely that pup is being given too much freedom before 18 months of age, when you are not there to supervise. Most dogs go through a second destructive chewing phase between 6-12 months when their jaws are developing. That combined with energy and boredom can lead to destructive chewing habits. If you can prevent chewing incidents, most dogs will outgrow that tendency around 18 months, but if they continue to happen due to too much freedom too soon, they can turn into an adult chewing habit that's harder to address. Check out the article I have linked below on chewing. I especially recommend crate training pup and crating when you are not home and at night when you can't supervise at this age. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ If pup is not already crate trained, you can expect more protesting than with a young puppy introducing at this age. When she cries and you know she doesn't need to go potty yet, ignore the crying. Most dogs will adjust if you are consistent. You can give her a food stuffed hollow chew toy to help her adjust and sprinkle treats into the crate during times of quietness to further encourage quietness, like this method outlines: Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate If she continues protesting for long periods of time past three days, you can use a Pet Convincer. Work on teaching "Quiet" by using the Quiet method from the article linked below. Tell her "Quiet" when she barks and cries. If she gets quiet and stays quiet, you can sprinkle a few pieces of dog food into the crate through the wires calmly, then leave again. If she disobeys your command and keep crying or stops but starts again, spray a small puff of air from the Pet convincer at her side through the crate while saying "Ah Ah" calmly, then leave again. If she stays quiet after you leave you can periodically sprinkle treats into the crate to reward her quietness. Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Only use the unscented air from the Pet Convincers - don't use citronella, it's too harsh and lingers for too long so can be confusing. Do NOT spray in the face - only side or chest. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Sky's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Pepper
American bully
10 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Pepper
American bully
10 Months

My dog hasn’t really been a chewer, but lately he has been chewing up my wife’s and step daughters things, what can be done to stop this?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
240 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. Nothing is off limits to puppies. They have a mouthful of shiny new teeth, and they need appropriate puppy toys to use them on. By around 6 months of age, they have their adult teeth and the need to chew abates, but boredom can give them a reason to take up the habit again. Puppies, just like human toddlers, need a completely puppy-proof area, either a dog crate or pet gated room. If your puppy grabs a forbidden item while you are watching him, quickly distract him with a sharp “Eh eh!” and when he drops it, redirect cheerfully with a toy that he is allowed to have. Teaching tricks is a good way to give your pup appropriate outlets. 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.

Add a comment to Pepper's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
gunner
Pit bull
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
gunner
Pit bull
1 Year

i have tried everything and ca not get my pit to stop chewing on things. he likes to chew the throw pillows on the couch and the arm of the couch. his destructive behavior is causing problems at home with my boyfriend and nothing we do seems to break the habit. i would greatly appreciate some tips or tricks to help break him of this behavior. we keep toys and bone all over the house but he seems to prefer the furniture. we haven't caught him chewing on the furniture since he was a baby but we have been finding the pillows torn up and the stuffing pulled out of them.

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

n 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. Nothing is off limits to puppies. They have a mouthful of shiny new teeth, and they need appropriate puppy toys to use them on. By around 6 months of age, they have their adult teeth and the need to chew abates, but boredom can give them a reason to take up the habit again. Puppies, just like human toddlers, need a completely puppy-proof area, either a dog crate or pet gated room. If your puppy grabs a forbidden item while you are watching him, quickly distract him with a sharp “Eh eh!” and when he drops it, redirect cheerfully with a toy that he is allowed to have. Teaching tricks is a good way to give your pup appropriate outlets. 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.

Add a comment to gunner's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Question
Layla
Pitbull terrier pit bulls
7 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Layla
Pitbull terrier pit bulls
7 Months

When she chews on thing she is always going for my cleaning rags. Why is that

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
946 Dog owners recommended

Hello Justine, A lot of dogs find it fun to rip fabric apart, rags are also limp and can be shaken like a dead animal. Overall, playing with the rags might remind pup of killing small rodents. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Add a comment to Layla's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd