I may have a problem with my adopted dog, Hilda. She apparently likes to chew on too many things. She got one of my slippers a couple days ago but I caught her before she did any damage. Then this morning she went a picked up one of my daughters flip-flops and chewed on that doing some damage.

I'm worried about this and want to cut this off in the bud before she chews up anything else and especially anything I would be upset about if she chewed it up.

She is doing exceptionally well adapting to our house otherwise. She is learning to walk on a leash very nicely and is beginning to respond very well to verbal commands. She is very responsive and loves being here and we are all very happy with her.

I'm concerned about the chewing and am looking for any advice you may have on how to curb this problem as soon as possible before it becomes a serious problem.

Thank you in advance.


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The first step is to make sure that Hilda doesn't have access to anything you would be upset about if she chewed it. That means no shoes or flip-flops left lying around where she can get them, since footwear seems to be her favorite chew object. The rule in my house is that any shoes that are not on your feet go behind closed doors...either in a closet, the mudroom (with door closed), or a bedroom with the door shut.
The next step is to make sure that Hilda always has lots of other things she likes to chew on; toys, bones, etc. A marrow bone or kong filled with something tasty will be more appealing to her than a flip-flop.
The third step is to correct her when you catch her with something she should not have. When you caught her with your slipper, did you simply take it away from her, or did you use the opportunity as a learning experience? I know it's hard to be prepared at all times, but the best thing would be to trade her a bone or some other appealing chew object for the slipper, along with a verbal correction. "No, Hilda!" (take slipper, offer her bone) "Good girl!" Here, the lesson is: Slipper bad, bone good. This is the same process by which we teach housebreaking...inside bad, outside good. The idea is to teach the dog not only what she cannot have or do, but what she can have and do.
I hope this helps.
I didn't catch her chewing the flip-flop so I didn't feel I could reprimand her for that. I did pick the flip-flop up and tell her this was very bad. She understands tone of voice very well, I'd say almost to the point of being hyper-sensitive. So I'm am being very careful with how I reprimand her. It seems like a stern no is sufficient. I don't even raise my voice, just stern face and tone.

I REALLY like your "pick up her bone and say bone yes, flip-flop no". Thank you, I'll do that in the future if necessary. Also, yes, I think all shoes have to go behind closed doors. I'm a little worried about some of the wood work in the house, she started a little chew on that the other day but I told her no - caught her in the act- and she hasn't repeated it yet.

Thank you for the response.

I agree with you completely, and don't mean to suggest that you should give her harsh corrections. And you are absolutely right that if you don't catch them in the act, a correction is inappropriate. The important things are really to minimize a dog's chances of making a mistake, give them better choices, and let them know they have done well.
Limiting access to forbidden objects minimizes the dog's chances of making a mistake. Trading the shoe for the bone gives the dog a better option. And ending the "lesson" with praise lets the dog know she has made a good choice.
I always use the housebreaking example because it's the easiest way to illustrate what is going on when you are trying to teach a dog how to make the right choices. Imagine a dog squats and starts to pee in front of her owner. The owner says, "Susie, NO!" At that point, Susie knows she has done something wrong, but she isn't sure what it is. She knows she was peeing when her owner got upset with her. Is peeing bad? She isn't sure what she did wrong or what she should be doing instead.
Now, if the owner follows "NO!" with a quick placement of Susie in the yard, and Susie finishes peeing out there, and the owner praises her as if she hung the moon, Susie starts to understand...I am a good girl for peeing out here. The lesson has ended with Susie feeling that she has done something wonderful. This is very important, especially for dogs who seem hypersensitive to criticism. Nothing builds confidence in a dog like knowing she has made the right choice and pleased her owner.
This is pretty basic, I know, but we all forget from time to time to put the emphasis on teaching the dog what she should be doing along with stopping the behaviors that are less desirable.
This is very well written. Thank you. I'll see how it goes and keep you posted. Hilda is a delightful dog and clearly wants to make everyone happy. Before living with her foster family and now us, she had a very hard life. She becomes clearly nervous at times that would otherwise not be understandable. But she wants to please us very much. Now the trick is to get her to know she is perfectly safe here and to know what is expected so she can make everyone happy. Once those two hurdles are over, she is going to be the most delightful dog imaginable...

Thanks again,

Karen's advice is very thorough. I can't stress enough that any items you think she might chew have to be put up or away. Sometimes, they need to outgrow the habit (as well as the instruction of what is bad/good) so if the 'interesting' items aren't ever available..... As to the wood, there are sprays to try as well as making your own mixture of a red pepper paste or wash. Ned has taught us to keep our bathroom doors closed because he has not outgrown trash digging. One suggestion I was given that I really should try is to put cut lemons in in the trash so that he gets that sour citrus if he trash digs.
All this is great advice. You might try spraying some Bitter Apple on the woodwork in the area where she started to chew. I've found once they find a spot, they'll usually go back given the chance. I'm so glad she's doing so well otherwise.
You've gotten some great advice.

Both of my dogs are chewers. At our house I keep an ABUNDANCE of approved chew toys. We have two baskets on the floor - one for toys, the other is for edible chews. The toy basket has toys that range from balls of various sizes, kongs, squeaky toys, braided ropes, to durable plush. The chew basket has pig ears, braided bully sticks, tracheas, bones, etc. (It changes based on what I've bought, and I only keep a couple in the basket at any time.)

I have three kids, so each kid ALSO has a basket in our living room. My older dog is still only 14 months but she knows where *her* toys are. The minute you see the dog with anything that is not hers, a simple "No" and replacing it with something that is hers will get through pretty fast. Also, lots of people remember to correct when they have something they shouldn't -- but it wouldn't hurt to praise her when you see she's grabbed one of her chew toys. Providing her with tasty, satisfying things to chew - and some variety - will really help. Veruca (my 14m old Doodle) has a ball that she will toss for herself - it's nearly the size of a soccer ball - she grabs it in her mouth, flicks her head, tosses the ball and runs after it. She will do this and play for a good thirty minutes. These are very smart dogs, and as a result they can get bored. She loves her toy basket.

A word of advice... never give the dog something old you wouldn't want them to chew new. Some people think "I'll let the puppy have my old shoe"... yea, Fido has no idea what the difference to you is. The shoe is a shoe, it smells like your feet - he was allowed to chew one... why not all? For that same reason I never let my dogs "have" old kid stuffed animals. The toys for the dogs are bought for the dogs from the start.

Good luck!
Great advice! Indeed these are very smart dogs! From the looks of things, I believe you are quite right, Hilda simply gets bored. I like the basket idea. I'm also very much in support of watching and praising when she is doing the right things. Indeed it is easy to overlook. Very good advice on the "old shoe"...

It seems she also needs to have the toys rotated. She loved a raw hide bone I got her. She chewed it up and I got her another. Then she basically turned her nose up at it... obviously - been there done that, can you get me something new please?

We are still getting to know each other. Hilda is still adapting to our house and can get nervous. She is getting better every day, quite noticeably. Just last night she finally allowed herself to play with me. She still doesn't really know how, but she started and that certainly shows a lot of confidence growth.

Thank you for the feedback.

The most important thing is that you ASKED and are doing it! As a family, we are always here - ask away!!
Yes, I've noticed with my dogs they like to have a few choices in chew toys. I don't generally buy rawhide, partly because it looks boring to me? hehe so plain.. and also because I know some dogs will swallow a piece and get ill. I keep a couple of different kinds in the basket -- like right now --- there is a trachea, braided bully stick, a bone, a tendon and a pigs ear. Merrick makes a sample bag that's pretty neat, our local pet store carries for about $10. Red Barn also makes one called it's "Bargain Bag" it was $10 at my local store. It also lets you try some different kinds of chews without buying too many if your dog hates them. There are tons of suggestions on good chews for dogs that like to gnaw. It's good for their teeth, helps keep them clean.

http://www.bestbullysticks.com/ is one site I've looked through for some really interesting products. I am thinking of trying that Himalayan Dog Chew http://www.bestbullysticks.com/home/bbs/page_3335_22/himalayan_dog_... and perhaps an Elk or Deer Antler.

There are several other sites people have mentioned for treats.

And I have a serious addiction to buying toys, collars and leashes for the dogs. I've found a few I really like. I buy a lot from Tuesday Morning. I try to buy plush toys that are tough or reinforced. I've even found Kongs and Kong products there and at Big Lots of all places.
A very good friend and fellow rescuer gave me some great advice for chewers:

1. make at least 6 rolls of newspapers and bind them with numerous rubber bands so they can't unroll
2. put them in every room where there might be something that your dog might want to 'borrow' to chew
3. watch your dog very carefully
4, whenever you see your dog going for something they shouldn't grab that newspaper
and smack yourself on the hand and say
Bad Bad Human, you should have put that away so the Doodle couldn't get to it!

funny but so true!

Liz - did I get it right????
Love this!


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