How to Stop a Dog From Chewing

Chewing is a natural and necessary behaviour for dogs, but it can become a concern when they target furniture, shoes, or other items around your home. To stop your dog from chewing your things, it’s important to understand the root causes of the behaviour and leverage modern, ethical techniques to guide your dog towards more appropriate chewing habits.

Why Do Dogs Chew?

Before we can begin modifying behaviour, it’s crucial to understand the reasons behind it.

Chewing is more than just a pastime for dogs, it’s a behaviour deeply ingrained in their genetic makeup. Puppies chew to relieve teething pain, while adult dogs chew simply because it can feel good. Chewing also aids dogs of all ages in relieving stress, anxiety and boredom.

At What Age Do Dogs Stop Destructive Chewing?

Many dogs reduce the intensity of their chewing as they move out of puppyhood (18 months to 3 years old). However, some dogs may continue this behaviour into adulthood. ‘Destructive’ chewing is often down to your dog not having access to suitable chew options.

Why is My 2-Year-Old Dog Still Chewing?

Continued chewing in older dogs can be due to boredom, anxiety, lack of appropriate chew toys, or even ongoing teething. Assessing and addressing these underlying causes for your individual dog is essential to help resolve the behaviour, so it’s best to make an appointment with your vet or a qualified dog behaviourist as well as working through the steps below.

How to Stop Your Dog Chewing Your Things

Since chewing is a natural behaviour in dogs, the answer is not to stop them from chewing altogether, but to redirect their chewing to more safe and appropriate objects. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Identify Appropriate Chew Targets

The first step in redirecting your dog’s chewing is identifying and providing suitable alternatives. This is where dog chews and chew toys come into play. These items are designed to be appealing and safe for dogs to chew on.

Dog Chews

Tasty dog chews can provide a satisfying outlet for your dog’s chewing urges, and offer numerous benefits. These include improved dental health and mental stimulation. Single-ingredient, air-dried chews are a good choice.

However, it’s essential to select chews that are appropriate for your dog’s size and chewing habits to prevent any risk of choking or gastric upset. Always check the product packaging in case the chew is only suitable for dogs from a certain age too.

Dog Chew Toys

Chew toys, particularly those stuffed with food, can also help to engage your dog and satisfy their desire to chew. Toys made from durable rubber or nylon are excellent for vigorous chewers. They are an appropriate outlet for chewing and also contribute to your dog’s problem-solving skills, providing all-important mental stimulation.

While many dogs will enjoy these types of toys, others may not. It’s important to find a chewing outlet that appeals to your dog in order to successfully redirect the behaviour, so don’t be afraid to try a few different things.

Plush Toys

Soft, plush toys can also be useful when redirecting your dog’s chewing. As we’ll detail below, having a range of differently textured dog toys and chews available is important. When considering plush toys, it’s important to supervise heavily, especially when the toy has a squeaker or other small parts that could be ingested. If your dog has a habit of ingesting toys this may not be the best option. Instead, it’s best to opt for fully edible items.

Step 2: Redirect and Supervise

Once you have a range of more appropriate objects for your dog to chew on to hand, it’s time to start redirecting their behaviour. Redirecting chewing behaviour involves consistency and supervision.

When you notice your dog chewing on something they shouldn’t, calmly redirect them to an appropriate chew of a similar material. For example, if your dog is chewing on something soft like fabric, you can provide a plush toy for them to destroy instead.

Praise and reward your dog when you observe them chewing on more appropriate items. Consistency is key in reinforcing these positive behaviours.

For safety reasons, always supervise your dog with any chew item to avoid the risk of choking.

Step 3: Show Understanding and Patience

Teaching your dog to stop chewing on inappropriate items is a process that requires understanding, patience, and consistency. You can guide your dog towards healthier chewing habits by employing modern, scientifically backed methods that focus on positive reinforcement.

Remember, the goal is not to stop your dog from chewing altogether but to redirect this natural behaviour towards suitable alternatives. Doing so will help strengthen your bond with your dog, ensuring a more comfortable and harmonious home for both of you.

EXPERT TIP: To ensure my dogs always have a way to fulfil their chewing needs, I have set up a ‘Chew Box’ with a range of natural, single-ingredient chews that they can enjoy at any time. I rotate the chews and try new proteins regularly to ensure my dogs are always satisfied with what is available.

Why You Should Not Use Sprays to Stop Dogs Chewing

While it might seem convenient to use bitter apple sprays or other taste deterrents to stop your dog from chewing on furniture or shoes, these methods are not always effective. Quick remedies like these often have hidden negative effects.

For example, bitter sprays can sometimes lead to dogs developing negative emotions towards you or certain areas of your home. More importantly, relying on aversives does not address the underlying cause of the chewing, such as anxiety or boredom. This can mean your dog’s well-being is negatively impacted.

FAQs Around Chewing in Dogs

How Long Does Changing a Dog’s Chewing Habits Take?

The time it takes to change a dog’s chewing habit can vary depending on the dog and how consistently you are able to redirect your dog to more appropriate chewing options. It will also depend on how well their other biological needs are met.

Are There Any Specific Dog Chew Toys That Are More Effective?

Effectiveness can vary based on a dog’s size, breed, and individual preferences. Finding the most engaging toys for your dog is often a process of trial and error.

Can I Give Chews and Chew Toys to Puppies?

Absolutely, provided the ones you pick are suitable for your puppy’s age. Introducing appropriate chew toys and dog chews at a young age can help prevent destructive chewing habits from forming.

Wrapping Up

By understanding the reasons behind your dog’s chewing and providing them with the right support and resources, you can help guide them away from your furniture and towards more appropriate chewing habits. Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Contact a qualified, ethical behaviourist if you are struggling with your dog’s chewing habits as there can be many reasons why this behaviour occurs.

Struggling with your dog’s behaviour? Discover how Renee can elevate your wisdom and transform your relationship by visiting

Renee Rhoades MSc, dog behaviour expert for Animed Direct

About Renee Rhoades, MSc

Renee Rhoades, MSc, is a distinguished authority in canine behaviour and welfare, recognised for her unwavering commitment to improving the lives of both dogs and humans. The founder of R+Dogs, a virtual dog behaviour consultancy, Renee offers cutting-edge private coaching and online courses to dog guardians worldwide. Renee specialises in transforming fearful and high-energy dogs, addressing aggression, reactivity, generalised anxiety and hyperactivity.

Beyond client-focused coaching, Renee is also the co-host of DogLogical, a podcast dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of our dogs. In addition, she extends her expertise by mentoring fellow dog professionals, contributing to the growth and development of the industry.

Struggling with your dog’s behaviour? Discover how Renee can elevate your wisdom and transform your relationship by visiting