A slipper, garbage from the wastebasket, the wooden leg of a table or couch—there are a plethora of items that dogs chew on without our encouragement. Now how do we get this destructive behavior to stop?

Somehow you need to communicate when your dog is doing something inappropriate. Corrections must be made within 10 seconds of your dog misbehaving in order for them to put two and two together (ex. “I chewed on this, therefore I was disciplined). Your means of correction are vast: leash correction, auditory correction (ex. Clapping hands, the beep of an e-collar, “ah-ah”, “leave it”, “no”), or physical correction (ex. The “touch”, foot tap, a shock or vibration from an e-collar). It’s not enough to simply deter your dog, you need to follow-through on your corrections to ensure that they understood and submissively accept the correction (you will know when a dog accepts a correction by giving you eye contact and sitting down/laying down. Stand your ground until your dog does this). Repeat, repeat, repeat until your dog gets the idea.

A good exercise to help your dog distinguish good from bad is to get him calm, and then surround him with items he’s not supposed to chew on. Correct him if he goes for them. Leave used tissues on the floor all day, slippers, sweaters, plastic bags, even lunch meat in a bag. By making him learn to leave and avoid these items, you are setting yourself up for success when you leave your pup unattended (only leave the obstacle course up when you are able to supervise). Remember to be patient. Lead your dog!