We love dogs. That’s why we get them. We plan on sharing our homes and our love with them. As we share our lives with them, we discover that some behaviours can become a nuisance. Common behaviour problems are natural behaviours for our furry friends, such as jumping, barking, chewing, and digging.  

These natural behaviours become a problem when they start to cause a disturbance, or become destructive or harmful. Luckily, dogs are quite clever and can be trained, therefore many common behaviour problems can be resolved or improved or redirected.


From a young age, pups should be given guidance on how to behave. This includes teaching themwhich items are appropriate to chew on in the home. They don’t know any better and will happily chew on a wooden table leg. It’s only when we see the damage that something is done about it.

Chewing and licking are behaviours which the dog finds rewarding due to a bio-feedback mechanism which reinforces the behaviour. Before embarking on dealing with destructive chewing, we need to understand the various causes, such as boredom caused by a lack of physical and mental exercise, separation anxiety, teething in the case of puppies, stress or frustration, and sometimes it’s a learned behaviour. One has to take into account that some breeds are more likely to be more destructive than others. For example, Retrievers usually like to have something in their mouths.

When they’re bored, you might find that they’re likely to start chewing on things to keep themselves busy. From an early age, or when you get your new dog, encourage the dog to chew on appropriate items such as a varied selection of indestructible chew toys. Pups are naturally curious and explore the world with their mouths. Whenever you see your dog or puppy chewing on anything that you don’t approve of, call your dog to you and show him the better alternative. Praise your dog for chewing on the correct items.

This type of training is conditioning the dog to chew on acceptable things in your home. Teething pups will find comfort from chewing on soft toys to alleviate the discomfort.


Don’t leave your shoes lying around. The dog doesn’t know that you paid one thousand rand for the sneakers. To him, it’s a smelly and soft item that’s going to be very satisfying. If you pack your shoes away, the dog won’t be able to destroy them. Remember that if a dog does something once, he’s likely to do it again.


Bored dogs tend to be more destructive than those who are exercised. Exercise includes walking your dog regularly, playing with them when you’re home and engaging them in stimulating games such as scenting or find, fetch, and fun training games. Both physical and mental stimulation goes a long way to prevent unwanted behaviours.

If you suspect that your dog may have separation distress or anxiety, call in a qualified and accredited behaviourist to assist you. Destructive chewing is a symptom of this; however, it’s usually accompanied with other behaviours such as non-stop barking, urination and defecation indoors, etc.

Never punish your dog for unwanted behaviour. Whenever you use punishment, essentially, you’re not training, just suppressing. Training teaches a dog how to behave, and you have to let them know, in every scenario, how to behave. Rewarding good behaviour is the only way to train a puppy or dog.

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