DESTRUCTIVE CHEWING AND DIGGING have had dogs that have chewed remote controls, new mobile phones, children's school books, legs of tables and chairs, sofas, electric cables, walls, door frames as well as the more obvious, shoes, socks, pants and digging up new plants in the garden. Apart from the cost of the item, dogs have been to the vets with items stuck in the top of their mouths and in their stomach needing surgery to get it out.

Some of these behaviours have been because of Separation Anxiety or from the boredom of being "home alone", but often it is just the dogs' natural instinct to chew and to dig. Younger dogs in particular need to chew and chew toys are not always enough to keep your dog stimulated and occupied and away from the more costly items in your home. Discovering the cause of your dogs' behaviour is the most important so that an appropriate programme of training and behaviour modification can be put in place.


Chewing is natural for a puppy but you can limit the amount of chewing with the proper puppy management. Supply your puppy with safe chew toys such as a Kong™. This will stimulate his brain by providing mental stimulation. It is best to limit the space for a young pup, that way you control the environment and limit the amount of damage he is able to do. Also place all valuables up out of harm's way.

Dogs can grow out of chewing as they get older, but many older dogs enjoy chewing. Supplying them with fresh (never cooked) bones to chew on and/or a safe chew toy such as a Kong will stimulate your dog and keep boredom and bay.

flickrpitbull-victoriabc-zeus-5216787-mDigging is a natural thing for puppies and dogs. Some dogs can hear things going on underground, such as water running through pipes or moles and other burrowing animals. They will also dig to bury bones and it's thought that dogs dig to make a small hollow to cool off or to make a bed.

If your dog likes to dig make him a digging pit, using something such as a hard plastic paddling pool filled with washed children's play sand. You could bury food there for your puppy/dog to find and/or toys and chews. Puppies and dogs much prefer to dig where they know they'll find something good and sand is softer and easier to dig.  When your dog is digging somewhere you don’t want them to dig, get excited and direct them to the digging pit where there are lots of rewarding things for your dog to dig and find.  They will soon learn to head for the digging pit in preference for other parts of your garden.   

Dogs can’t tell what they can and can’t chew or where they can or can’t dig so it is important that you gently let your puppy/dog know when it is doing something wrong. Puppies and dogs respond to vocal tones so introduce one word to indicate that your puppy/dog has done something wrong, such as "bad" said in a low growly voice. Always follow up soft toned praise when your puppy/dog responds correctly.

If he doesn’t respond initially try clapping your hands at the same time and lowering your voice tone even more whilst using your correction word. DO NOT RAISE YOUR VOICE AND YELL AT YOUR DOG.  Do not use aggressive body language such as pointing your finger or raising your hand.  Do not physically correct at any point including tapping your puppy/dog's nose, holding it down or grabbing its collar.

Be patient and do not correct him unless you catch your puppy/dog in the act of chewing something inappropriate or digging. Timing is crucial. If you don't catch him in the act then it is pointless correcting him as he won't associate the correction with the event.  Do not attempt to stamp out these natural behaviours entirely.  Direct your puppy or dog to things they can chew and places they can dig so you have a happy dog and harmonious household. 

Occasionally chewing and digging can develop into an obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).  If you suspect that your dogs' behaviour has become compulsive then click here for details on obsessive compulsive disorder in dogs

For expert professional help and advice on resolving destructive behaviours with your dog

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