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If you have a dog that likes to chew, then you know the frustration that arises when you come home to a destroyed item. For many pet owners, that frustration is tripled when you realize that your dog is only destroying YOUR items!
Many pet owners wonder why their dog chooses to only chew on one person’s items, and they’re not alone.
A dog may chew on one person’s items because they especially like that person, because they have easier access to their items, or because they like the material of those items. Removing your dog’s access to those items, crate training and more enrichment are all ways to prevent your pup from chewing.
While this can be infuriating for the owners, let’s look into your dog’s perspective on why they chew one person’s things and how to help stop it.
Reason 1: They Like That Person
When there is more than one human in the house, some dogs may choose someone to be “their person,” and will love anything and everything that person does. Unfortunately, that sometimes is more fun for your dog than for you.
Dogs recognize us by our scent, so when they feel like they want the comfort of their favorite human they will seek out their scent. The easiest place for your dog to find your scent is in your bed or blankets, or more commonly on your dirty clothes! The chewing is likely an expression of frustration, either due to separation anxiety or boredom.
While it seems gross to us, your dogs love your body odor. Often, they will go for the smelliest pieces like undergarments or socks, or maybe even workout clothes. If your scent is extra comforting to your dog, they may seek out your items specifically to chew on, even bypassing other enticing scents!
Reason 2: That Person’s Items are Easier to Access
Dogs usually take the easier path, so if one person’s items are usually left on the ground or a lower shelf, it may just be the easiest target.
Sometimes a dog will deliberately take a difficult path to something if they are extra motivated for it, like bypassing their kibble for a nice, juicy ham on the counter. But some dogs, especially young dogs are more easily excitable, they simply take the easiest path to happiness.
If your dog likes to chew on one person’s item, it may be simply because that person’s item is more easily accessible than others! There are many different types of humans; some of us are messier than others (like me!) and may tend to have clothes on the ground more often than in the hamper. Another reason that dogs can get to one person’s things is that they are stored lower or in easier access, like the bottom of the shelf or closet.
If your dog seems to be struggling to only chews on one person’s things, first look at where the dog is accessing their items. It may be as easy as rearranging your closet to help avoid the problem of your dog only chewing on their items!
Reason 3: They Like the Material
Some materials could be more enticing to your dog, each person has their preference of material, and some materials hold smell better than others (link to my smell article)
As many of us have already figured out, dogs can be very particular about their daily lives. It’s common for a dog to be picky about what food they eat, what toys they play with, and even what material they chew up!
Yes, just like some humans, dogs can have material preferences. Except in our dog’s minds, it’s not about how the material feels on their skin, it’s about how the material rips in their mouths. It could also have something to do with the smell of the material, as studies have shown that synthetic materials, like polyester and nylon, hold scents stronger than natural materials like cotton or wool.
If your dog is only chewing your things, start to take note of what the material they are chewing is. If possible, a toy in the same material for their enjoyment could help cut down on item stealing and chewing habits.
When Is Chewing a Concern?
Obstructed bowel, average cost, study about waiting, why you need to take it seriously.
A study evaluating the outcomes of dogs that had surgery because of an intestinal blockage. The longer you wait to seek vet help, the more likely the dog is to have complications and a slower recovery time.
Chewing is a natural habit for dogs, and they should have some sort of outlet for their chewing. This is especially true of young, active dogs or teething puppies. However, it’s important to monitor anything and everything your dog chews, as it can be dangerous if your dog ingests anything!
Swallowing something that won’t break down in their stomach (anything but food) puts your dog in danger of an intestinal blockage, which prevents your dog from passing waste and eating, eventually leading to death if untreated. Treatment usually requires surgery, but it’s a time-sensitive issue. This study shows that the longer you wait to have to seek veterinary attention, the more likely the dog is to have complications from the surgery and a longer recovery time.
While this is a scary thing, it can be mostly avoidable by ensuring that everything your dog chews is safe and appropriate for them. If they tend to chew on your items, even if only one person’s items, it’s important to nip it in the bud to avoid expensive and dangerous complications!
How Do We Stop the Dog from Chewing My Things?
There are many reasons that a dog may be chewing and just as many methods how to stop it. The method used to stop chewing is entirely dependent upon the reason the dog is chewing, and you may need a variety of methods to fully address the issue.
We will be looking at ways to address chewing on one person’s items, but also how to reduce chewing as a whole. If your dog has less drive to chew something, then your items are that much safer from being sought out as chew toys.
Make It Harder to Access
This seems simple, but sometimes the simplest solution works best! Dogs can be stubborn when they really want something, but it’s much more likely that your dog will engage in undesirable behaviors, like chewing your items, if they have easy access to them. If you make the access harder, it can help reduce the problem behavior.
Ways to reduce chewing on your clothes are to invest in a hamper with a lid, close closet doors and drawers, make sure all clothes are picked up off the floor, and close doors around your home when you are not in the room. Anything that is in “snout reach”: is vulnerable to your dog, so move any items up or to closed storage to protect them.
While this solution may not fully resolve the chewing issue, especially for puppies or stubborn dogs, it’s an excellent start. It could be especially helpful if your dog is only chewing on one person’s items, as a simple switch of storage spaces may reduce the temptation for your dog.
Almost every reputable trainer will suggest to you to crate train your dog, and for very good reason! Crates are often painted as cruel “cages,” but a properly crate-trained dog actually feels safest in their crate. Not only does the dog feel safer, but they ARE safer!
Dogs that are in their crate when unsupervised are in a controlled environment, which means that they cannot access things that are dangerous for them. As we discussed, an intestinal blockage could be fatal for your dog, but many of our household items are also dangerous.
Crate training your dog to stay in its crate when you’re not able to supervise them is a great way to stop them from chewing on your things and keep them safe. Just make sure you place your dog’s crate in a safe and comfortable environment.
Add More Enrichment
Destructive chewing is often a sign that a dog is bored, has too much energy, or is unfulfilled in some portion of its needs. All dogs, no matter the breed, need physical and mental exercise to feel happy and to stay healthy. If their needs aren’t met, they often feel frustrated, which can lead to chewing on your items. They can even “blame” one person, having associated them with some sort of negative experience, and may choose to chew on their things or another household person’s things to express their frustration.
To avoid this, you must ensure your dog’s needs are being met by adding enrichment activities to their daily lives. Physical exercises are obvious, but mental stimulation can be harder to determine. The best enrichment activity is one that provides both, like a long hike where your dog can sniff to their heart’s desire, or a fun sport like agility.
Balancing physical and mental enrichments can be difficult for certain breeds, and if you have any questions you should consult with a professional trainer to determine your dog’s individual needs. However, enriching your dog’s life can greatly reduce problem chewing behaviors as a whole, making your items a little bit safer!
When it comes to your dog chewing only on your items, it can be a very frustrating ordeal for owners, especially if the dog is seemingly targeting you through your items.
It’s okay to be frustrated at your pup, but hopefully, our article gave you some insight into why they do this and how to address it with your furry best friend!