Extinguishing Inappropriate Chewing Behavior (Abstract)



To most effectively and most humanely address any dog training or behavioral problem, we wish first to diagnose the origin of the behavior. Undesirable chewing is most commonly caused by:

  • Lack of knowledge regarding what is an appropriate versus inappropriate chew item,
  • Curiosity,
  • A desire for self-rewarding oral stimulation,
  • A desire to relieve discomfort common during the teething stage,
  • Attention seeking,
  • Boredom,
  • General under-stimulation,
  • Barrier frustration,
  • Separation anxiety,
  • General anxiety or stress, and/or
  • Obsessive-compulsive behavior.


Optimally, to best modify your dog’s inappropriate chewing behavior, we need to consider the preceding causal factors as the primary behavioral problem while concurrently addressing the inappropriate chewing behavior as a secondary symptom.  In addition, until the behavior is modified, we need to prevent the continuation of the behavior by establishing management procedures that may include supervision and/or confinement.  We may also need to develop a system of active, semi-active, and/or passive punishment that consistently and immediately disciplines inappropriate chewing if the preceding management system is not sufficient in preventing recurrence of the behavior.   Lastly, using positive reinforcement we need to prompt the adoption of acceptable replacement behaviors, which in simple terms means chewing intended chew and play toys, rather than the windowsill, furniture, or TV remote control. By taking a properly designed four-pronged approach (origins, prevention, punishment, and encouraging replacement chewing activity), we should effectively modify the behavior.

Nevertheless, destructive chewing is often a complex behavior that is difficult to resolve without the services of a professional trainer or behaviorist. Therefore, we recommend the inclusion of a CPT in-home private lesson to raise the probability of a proper diagnosis of the origin of your dog’s behavior and to more effectively instruct solution techniques. To schedule a CPT in-home private lesson, please contact the CPT office by phone at 404-236-2150 or contact us by e-mail via the Contact link at the top right of this web page.


© Mark Spivak and Comprehensive Pet Therapy, Inc., May 2010, Revised February 2014.  All rights reserved.

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