As part of their natural instincts, dogs and particularly puppies, will often exhibit mouthing or chewing behaviour. Not only is this a vital part of learning and socialization as puppies, but chewing can also be a play, teething, or anxiety relieving behaviour. Destructive behaviour is more commonly seen if a dog is in conflict, or quite upset – as often seen with separation anxiety.
It is therefore quite important to determine the reason for the chewing. If a variety of objects are chosen as the chew toy, then play or teething behaviour may be the cause. Directing the chewing towards a more productive end is advisable, or allowing a more suitable object such as a kong filled with treats would be suggested. Play periods and chew treats are usually adequate to prevent some of this behaviour, however other alternatives include self feeders, other pets, and even videos are other options.
Attention-getting behaviour, including garbage raiding and stealing food off counters, must not be encouraged. Prevention, booby-traps and supervision to prevent access is important, as the behaviour itself in getting into the garbage is self-rewarding. Booby-traps must be noxious enough to immediately stop the chewing, including citronella based sprays, bitter apple, and even cayenne pepper mixes.
Dogs that are destructive due to anxiety or to escape confinement must trained to become comfortable with their surroundings – see crate training.