By Tammy Hein

Dogs chew for many reasons. If you have taught your dog what to chew on and what not to chew on, and they still go after the furniture or the TV remote, then there’s a good chance the chewing is not the problem, but a symptom of the problem.

What do we mean?

The most common reasons dogs chew is boredom. Now, try not to get boredom and anxiety mixed up. Sometimes when you leave your dog alone for too long with no outlet for their energy, they may chew the furniture because they’re bored and need something to do.

Dogs with anxiety don’t chew just anything. A dog in full panic mode will try to get to you. If your dog is chewing because of anxiety their victims will be things like the trim around the door, walls, baseboards, window trims, etc. Areas they know will lead them back to you. They will exhibit stress as you are getting ready to leave. Things like grabbing the keys can make their pupils dilate. They may pant or pace heavily as you put your coat or shoes on. This is anxiety and is a completely different situation from chewing because of boredom. For this you should consult with a behaviourist and your vet because they will need to work together with you.

Ok, back to boredom.

Remedies for dogs who get bored easily is to increase their mental and physical stimulation. Remember, mental stimulation will tire your dog out 10 x faster than physical.

For example: a dog that goes for a one-hour walk with no training and minimal sniffing while outside may come back and bounce off the walls and furniture. A one-hour walk alone doesn’t do much to satiate your dog’s energy levels. Especially if you have a border collie or lab. Dogs meant to do things like work with farm animals or hunt are going to need more mental exercise. Jack Russell Terriers hunt rats, Great Pyrenees guard sheep. Pending on your dogs breed purpose will depend on how much energy they have.

For this reason, it is important to make sure your dog is getting mentally and physically exhausted. Ways to tire your dog out completely is to include training while you are walking your dog. Practice cues your dog is currently learning. Don’t be scared to bring your clicker and rewards. You don’t have to fill the entire walk with training. Just do a few repetitions and then continue with the walk.

Let your dog sniff. Sniffing makes your dog’s brain work. Your dog can tell who has been in that area before you. Everything from their species, gender, what they were doing there and who they were with. They can judge a person or other dog by their smell. From the outside, you see their nose wiggle a few times, but millions of neurons are firing in their brain every time they stop to sniff.

So how do we keep dogs tired when it’s -30 out?

When it’s too cold to walk your dog, you will need to think outside the box, or in this case, inside the box.

Grab something you don’t mind your dog wrecking and play shaping games. Click every time your dog sniffs the object and toss a treat. Repeat two or three times. Give your dog a break by picking up the item. The more you play this game, the more specific you can get with the criteria. You may start with sniffing so the object becomes valuable to your dog, then you can switch it up and click for their paw touching it, putting their paw in it, dropping a toy into it (handy if you want to teach your dog to pick up his own toys. *hint hint*).

Search and find games are great for burning mental energy and you can play this one with their meals. Hide a few pieces of kibble around the room. Level 1- hidden in plain sight. Make it easy so your dog can figure out what it is he needs to do. Once he has accomplished a few rounds at level 1 continue to level 2. Hide the kibble under things. The edge of a blanket or pillow, for example. Something that is still easy, but he has to work a little harder. As your dog learns the game, you can get more and more creative with it. It may surprise you at what your dog can do when he’s on a mission.

You can play hide and seek as well. One person holds your dog while another hides. Call him to you. When he finds you, make a big deal about it and give him a reward. Repeat. This game builds a really nice recall too!!!

Aside from this, anything that makes your dog’s brain work on overdrive will tire him out. There are puzzles you can buy for dogs where you hide the treat inside. Kong wobblers or buster balls. There’s one called a tornado where they have to move pieces with their nose. These things are great for burning mental energy.

If your dog is a heavy puller, use the time indoors to work on walking with you. Why not? There’re no distractions, so it will be easier for him to learn. Then, when you get outside, you have a foundation to build on.

How do I know if my dog is getting enough mental stimulation?

Well, is your dog still chewing the couch? Or is he too tired to even think about chewing the couch?

If you want more information about chewing/mouthing and raising dogs and kids together, check out our podcast!

We are on Spotify here:

Dog Training Tips for Busy Families.

Hope you found today’s blog helpful and we hope you have a safe and Merry Christmas (or whichever holiday you partake in for this time of year.)

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