We all know how much our dogs love attention, don’t we? In fact, most dog owners have experienced their dog chewing furniture when left alone. Not only do dogs chew on furniture but also other non-food items like shoes and sometimes fabrics. It may start as exploration, especially in puppies but if not addressed, the habit may become chronic later in life.
What follows in the article is a helpful and useful guide to stop your dog from chewing furniture when left alone.
There are several reasons why your dog chews the furniture when left alone. It is a destructive behavior that dogs with separation anxiety may show. Let us look at these reasons below:
Dogs are naturally accustomed to having company. In the wild, he would be in a pack but we have become members of our dogs’ pack thanks to domestication. Your dog may get lonely whenever he does not see you around for quite some time. Some dogs actually hate being alone even for a few minutes.
When you allow your dog to accompany you everywhere, including your bedroom, he may not learn how to be alone. Like humans, domestication requires us to train our dogs on how to be alone and still make no mess. However, your lonely dog is definitely going to look for something to do when he is lonely at home.
For instance, if you have a full-time job that requires several hours of your day, you may have limited time with your dog. This means that he will be alone most of the time. If he has not undergone any training on how to cope with loneliness, you will have trouble leaving him at home. Some dogs will start barking excessively while others will not make a sound.
Like toddlers, when dogs are too quiet and alone in a room, something may be wrong somewhere. You may find your dog chewing on your expensive furniture. Sadly, there is nothing you can do about it but you can prevent such in the future.
There is a thin line that separates loneliness and separation anxiety. These two, however, should not be confused as separation anxiety is a little deeper. Dogs develop separation anxiety when we leave them alone for longer periods of time. For instance, if you recently traveled and left your pup under the care of someone else, he may develop separation anxiety.
The death of a family member is also a possible cause of separation anxiety. Your dog is used to seeing you every day and when these change, your dog will be stressed and anxious.
Even after you have come back, your dog may still show signs of separation anxiety. This kind of anxiety is characterized by an extreme fear of being left alone. You will notice your dog pacing, barking, or chewing on non-food items whenever you prepare to leave for work. These are some of the symptoms of separation anxiety and may continue all day long.
Separation anxiety, however, can be treated through various methods that we will discuss later in this article.
When your dog is presented with a situation or thing that scares him, he will develop coping behaviors. One of these behaviors is dog chewing on furniture when left alone. A good example of a situation that may scare your dog is the presence of a guest or a bigger pet.
For instance, if your neighbor told you to watch her dog for a few days when she travels, you might expose your dog to fear. This is especially if their dog seems larger than yours. To deal with the fear, your dog may want to chew something for distraction.
Strangers in your house might also be the cause of fear in your dog. You can discourage chewing on furniture habits by withdrawing the fear stimuli. For instance, you may take your dog to another room away from your strangers.
This is a common cause of dogs chewing on furniture when left alone. Our dogs want to be occupied, and well, he usually is when you are with him. However, you cannot always spend all day with your dog since the modern lifestyle requires you to work, run errands, and so on. Some dogs, especially clingy dogs, will not know what to do with all the time and have no one to play with. This will lead to boredom which leads to unhealthy coping methods.
One of the best but destructive coping mechanisms is chewing on furniture when left alone. You will find your comfortable and expensive furniture in little shavings from the chewing. However, you can be able to correct this behavior by making sure your dog is occupied at all times.
Well, this does not necessarily mean that you are not feeding your dog properly. Sometimes we treat all dogs the same, forgetting that they have different metabolism levels. Not only should you be concerned about the metabolism levels but also your dog’s energy level.
Dogs with high energy levels will get hungry faster than others. The same case applies to dogs with a faster metabolism rate. You can be able to consult your vet about the kind of foods you should give to your dog.
Age also affects the way your dog feeds! For instance, puppies under the age of 6 months should be fed 3-4 times a day. Adult dogs, on the other hand, should be fed 2 times a day. The amount of food you feed your dog is determined by other factors among them the body weight of your dog.
Your vet should be able to advise you on the correct amount of food for your dog. It is important to make sure that your dog feeds on a balanced diet at all times.
It should be noted that dogs are naturally adapted to chewing stuff. As mentioned above, your dog may want to strengthen his jaw or clean his teeth. Sometimes your dog will chew on furniture and other non-food items as a behavioral vice. In order to stop the habit, you should be aware of the reason behind the vice.
How to stop dog chewing on furniture when left alone
You have to determine the cause of your dog chewing on furniture when left alone for you to treat the vice. This is actually the first thing you are supposed to do, observe, and determine the reason for your dog chewing non-food items. However, this might not be as easy as it sounds as your dog will present different signs. The key is to dedicate some time to monitor your dog if he has developed the habit. Below are some of the ways you can use to curb dog chewing furniture;
Dog-proof your house
Like toddlers, sometimes your dog may push you to put dog proofs in the house. You may want to put a restriction on accessing your bedroom or living room. This way, he will not have any access to furniture and thus nothing to chew.
Instead of baby gates and such, you can opt to train your dog to stay away from certain areas in your house. You can be able to do this by teaching him a few commands. These commands will assist in teaching your dog whether he is allowed to access it or not. For instance, you can allocate some time after work to teach your dog commands like ‘outside,’ or ‘no’. This way, you will be letting him know that you do not appreciate what he is doing.
Due to your dog’s nature to obey his master, he will oblige to your commands. Dogs learn fast and do not want to annoy their masters unless they are seeking attention. This is one of the best ways to stop any behavioral vice in dogs.
Treat Separation Anxiety
As discussed above, separation anxiety is one of the leading causes of a dog chewing on furniture. It is an extreme fear of being alone that will have your dog acting up when you prepare to leave home. Some dogs will bark while others will chew on non-food items.
If you have noticed some of the symptoms of separation anxiety in your dog, you may consider consulting your vet. A behaviorist will be able to determine the reason behind the anxiety and fear. Spending quality time with your dog is effective in dealing with separation anxiety.
These are excellent, especially for teething dogs. Chewing toys are a healthy way to make sure that your dog satisfies his need to chew. Depending on your and your dog’s preference, you may decide to get him a ball or Kong. However, you should make sure to get the right size of toy for your dog.
One of the most recommended chew toys for dogs is the Nylabone Dura Chew Plus with a bone-like design. It is built of solid nylon material that is safe to ingest in case your dog swallows the shavings from chewing.
Chew toys are excellent in curbing the chewing on furniture behavior. This is because you will be providing your dog with an option. Whether your dog chews on objects because he wants to clean his teeth or to strengthen his jaws, a chewing toy is going to facilitate either.
Exercising your dog is healthy, but also used as a tool to curb common behavioral vices. For instance, exercise is widely used to treat anxiety disorders in dogs. A dog with separation anxiety could use a lot of exercising and so as dogs with boredom problems.
You do not need a lot of time to exercise your dog, in fact, you can be able to exercise with him in the morning. It is important to come up with a routine for exercise, perhaps in the mornings and evenings. You can also consider morning and evening walks as exercise, and also incorporate that with play.
To curb separation anxiety in dogs, you may consider exercising prior to leaving your home. This way, you will leave him exhausted and calm, and maybe napping. Some examples of the exercises you may take up with your dog include jogging and playing all together.
Check for nutritional deficiencies
If you have ruled out all the behavioral causes of a dog chewing on furniture when left alone, you may want to look at the nutritional aspect. Are you feeding your dog well? You should consult your vet on the type and amount of food to give your dog.
Treating and preventing parasitic infections is also helpful to your dog’s health. When he is free of all parasitic infections, he will be able to absorb foods from the intestinal walls into the bloodstream. This will prevent malnourishment in dogs.
- Training to discourage behavior
Training is probably the most effective way of correcting behavioral problems in dogs. Once you determine the reason why your dog is chewing on furniture, you will be able to train him to stop. For instance, some dogs will chew on furniture from boredom. You will be able to train him out of this habit in various ways.
One way of doing this is by making sure he is either busy or tired.
You can walk your dog in the morning before leaving. This will leave him tired instead of bored. Your puppy may decide to take a nap thereafter. You may also leave your TV or music to distract your dog when you are away.
Alternatively, you can buy rotating toys for your dog, or a ball to play with when you are away. This will stimulate your dog both physically and mentally and thus reducing boredom.
The same case applies to dogs that chew on non-food items to seek attention from their owners. You may train him in several ways. A good example is to tell him to stop and reward him when he does. However, if he does not top, you should not reward him. This may take a few days but he is going to finally get it.
You should, however, refrain from punishing him when he fails to understand the training. You may also lookup other ways to train your dog out of the common behavioral problems.
Dog chewing furniture when left alone is undesirable as well as destructive. It makes it hard to live with a dog under the same roof unless trained. Training should commence at a young age to avoid dealing with the same habits in adulthood. This habit is not hard or complex to correct as your dog will quit the habit in a few days. If he really loves to chew, chew toys will be great for him as long as they are clean and hygienic.