Is your dog chewing on a door frame, furniture, or other household items while you are away?
You are not alone! Destructive chewing is among the most common behavior problems in dogs across the world.
In this article, you are going to learn what causes excessive chewing in dogs, how to stop your dog from chewing on a door frame, and how to help your dog feel better when you are away.
How do you train your dog to not chew on door frames?
- Find and resolve the cause of chewing. The most effective thing to do to stop your dog from chewing on door frames is to find out why he wants to do it. The truth is, not all dogs chew on door frames because it’s not normal. The good news is that if something is not normal, it can be changed. The most common causes for dogs chewing on door frames are: separation anxiety, trying to escape confinement, fear-related anxiety, and boredom. Of course, there are more causes than this, and you will find the most common causes for dogs chewing on things here. IMPORTANT: If you suspect the cause of chewing is anxiety due to confinement, fear, or separation, seek professional help. The solution will include tips not mentioned here such as retraining the leaving process, desynthesizing departure cues, leaving for mixed lengths of time, and analyzing other behaviors of your dog. Read more about separation anxiety in dogs here.
- Do not punish your dog for chewing on a door frame. It will not work. If you have done it in the past, you already know it doesn’t give a result—the problem does not go away. Why does punishing not work? There are two reasons: #1 Your dog is chewing on door frames because something is urging him to do it, and it’s stronger than the fear of punishment. #2 Punishing is commonly done when the owner comes back home and discovers the mess. In that moment, too much time has passed for a dog to connect chewing with the punishment. IMPORTANT: Punishment not only means hitting your dog. It also involves yelling, restricting meals, lecturing, or giving your dog the evil eye. Don’t do it. The best approach is to ignore your dog for some time after you discover the mess.
- Increase the activity of your dog. This means scheduling walks for your dog. Yes, even if you have a yard, your dog still needs to get out. Try to fit it in your busy schedule because if you committed to care for a dog, you have to walk him. To your dog, having walks is as important as eating. Most people are able to incorporate shorter walks (15 minutes) in the morning and a longer one (up to an hour or more) in the evening, but you can create your own schedule. GUARANTEED: Keep up the routine of two walks per day for at least 10 days, and you won’t recognize your dog. He will be the best, most obedient, and calmest buddy out there. Besides, your health, and the health of your door jambs, will improve, too. Walking, as important as it is, is not the only activity available. Check out these even more creative ways to keep your dog active.
- Leave toys and treats when you go away. Let’s say your dog is now super active, but, as soon as you leave home, he’s back to his old habits. This may be due to several reasons, such as boredom and separation anxiety, which were mentioned before. Leaving out toys that your dog can chew on or treats that take time to consume is a good way to keep your dog busy during your absence.
- Provide your dog’s food through playing. This gives your dog both activities during feeding and a tool that you can use upon leaving home. It’s beneficial to provide all of your dog’s food through puzzle feeders, food dispensing toys, and hide-and-seek games.
- Praise your dog if nothing is chewed on when you come home. Just as important as ignoring the bad behavior, it is necessary to reward good behavior. It won’t work directly, like when you issue a treat for a dog who sits, but over time, your dog will see how your mood changes according to his behavior. The best reward in this situation is a ton of cheering, petting, and talking to your dog.
- Interrupt the behavior if you catch your dog in the act. Don’t punish—just either move your dog away, call him, or redirect his attention to something else, e.g., a thing that is appropriate for chewing. However, don’t pet, play, or feed your dog because he will understand those things as a reward for chewing. Just leave after the behavior has stopped.
- Apply anti-chewing spray on door frames. They have a bitter taste that discourages the chewing. It’s not a treatment, but, as you work your way through the training process, you may need to leave your dog unsupervised for longer periods. You will find anti-chewing sprays at most pet stores. Some say you can use cayenne pepper or mustard to achieve a similar effect, but do it at your own risk. Cleaning mustard off chewed on door jambs is a complete mess.
- Don’t use a muzzle. There are a few online articles that encourage putting a muzzle on a dog during an owner’s absence. While it may save your door jambs, it may worsen the situation if your dog’s destructive behavior is related to fear or anxiety. A better solution is to find the underlying cause of chewing and work your way through it, not around it.
As we said above, the most common cause of dogs chewing on door frames or furniture is separation anxiety. While most of the suggestions above will be very helpful in relieving this situation, it usually doesn’t stop there. If your dog is misbehaving, and you suspect the behavior might be caused by anxiety or fear, seek professional help.