If your dog is chewing the carpet, you may be feeling at a loss as to why this behavior is occurring and how to put a stop to it. While we understand how frustrating it must feel to have your carpets destroyed at the jaws of your fur friend, rest assured that your pup isn’t deliberately trying to upset you.
The first thing to recognize is that chewing is a normal behavior for dogs. Even if you’ve invested in a good selection of the best dog toys, your pup may still choose to gnaw on carpets, furniture, clothing, and other items as a way of exploring the world around them.
As chewing is a natural behavior, there are also other reasons that your pup may have become fixated with the carpet as opposed to more appropriate outlets. Having a young puppy that’s teething or an older dog struggling with anxiety or boredom are all factors that can contribute to chewing on objects other than their toys.
The good news is that just like any other canine behavior that you want to regulate, there is a range of methods you can use to help your pup learn appropriate chewing behavior.
To help you do just that, we spoke to Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, who shares her thoughts on the reasons why your dog may be chewing on the carpet and some simple tips and tricks you can use to put a stop to it.
Dr Joanna Woodnutt qualified as a veterinarian from the University of Nottingham where she then went on to practice companion animal medicine in the Midlands. She really took to the consulting side of things and helping clients with medical problems such as dermatology, behaviour and nutrition - anything that involved helping clients understand their pets better.
Why your dog is chewing the carpet
While it may seem like your dog is chewing up your carpet to upset you, there’s actually a number of genuine reasons that could be driving this behavior. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common.
Puppies explore their world through their mouths and for the few months that they’re teething they’ll want to chew on anything and everything they can get their paws on to help relieve the pain and discomfort they’re experiencing. Unfortunately, unless you invest in several of the best teething toys for puppies, very few items will be safe from this chewing expedition, including your carpets!
"Young pups that are teething often need to chew - it relieves pain and helps their new teeth come through," says Woodnutt. "Dogs can crave a variety of textures to chew- while some like wood, others prefer rubber, and others prefer something soft. If you don’t give your dog a variety of things to chew and encourage him for chewing them, you might find your carpet becomes a substitute."
Does your dog spend long periods of the day home alone while you’re at work? Separation anxiety could be the cause of their carpet chewing as anxiety often leads dogs to engage in destructive behaviors in order to soothe themselves.
"Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety or noise phobias are most likely to chew the carpet, but any anxiety can cause carpet chewing," explains Woodnutt. "It’s very important you don’t punish your dog for chewing the carpet as this will make them more anxious and compound the problem."
If you notice other signs, such as urinating or defecating around the house, or your neighbors inform you that your dog has been barking or howling, anxiety could be the cause.
3. Attention seeking
If your dog has been chewing the carpet and you’ve been telling them off for doing so (which is understandable!), you could be reinforcing the behavior without even realizing it. Believe it or not, while dogs prefer positive reinforcement and praise, if they’re after your attention, they’ll take whatever they can get, even if that’s you coming into the room to give them negative feedback.
4. Changes in their routine/environment
Stress can definitely cause your pup to engage in unwanted behaviors, including carpet chewing. If you notice that your canine companion started their chewing after you moved house, relocated their crate or food bowls, or it’s coincided with renovations, having guests, or welcoming a new addition into the family (of the pet or human variety), stress could be to blame.
Yes, believe it or not, pica is a condition that affects dogs too! This condition causes dogs to crave eating non-food items, including everything from carpets and drywall to golf balls and books. Pica is incredibly dangerous as it can cause your dog to ingest things that are toxic to them, so getting them diagnosed is super important. Most of the time, Pica is caused by hormonal or nutritional imbalances, or certain diseases, such as diabetes, all of which can be treated with the help of your vet.
6. Lack of exercise
Your dog’s breed will dictate the amount of exercise they need, with breeds like the Australian Shepherd needing several hours each day and couch potatoes like the Pug needing very little. If you have a high-energy breed and they’re not getting enough exercise, they may result to carpet chewing as a way to burn off energy and keep themselves occupied.
When a dog isn’t getting enough physical and mental stimulation, boredom can very quickly set in and as you probably already know, a bored dog is a dog that’s likely to get into mischief!
How to stop your dog from chewing the carpet
Once you’ve identified the root cause of your dog’s chewing behavior, there are several strategies you can use to put a stop to it.
The first thing you can try is working with your dog directly using training methods to teach them that chewing the carpet is not ok. There are a couple of different approaches you can use here, including redirection and deterrent training methods, so let’s take a look at the steps for both of these.
Step 1: Gather up a few of the best dog chew toys.
Step 2: Watch your pup closely and wait until you see him chewing the carpet.
Step 3: Pick up one of the chew toys and say ‘no’ in a firm voice.
Step 4: When your pup looks at you, redirect his attention by offering him the chew toy you’re holding in your hand.
Step 5: As he takes the toy, be sure to give him lots of verbal praise.
Step 6: Rinse and repeat!
Step 1: Pick up a bottle of pet deterrent spray - this won’t stain your carpet and your dog will dislike both the taste and the smell.
Step 2: Take a cotton ball and spray it with the deterrent. Give it to your dog so that he associates the nasty smell with the taste of what’s on the cotton ball.
Step 3: Lightly spray the area of carpet your dog likes to chew.
Step 4: Observe your dog as they head to their favorite spot. If, after smelling and tasting the spray, they decide to head to another patch of carpet, repeat the process until your pup learns to associate chewing on the carpet with having to smell and taste something they don’t like.
2. Limit access
Another great way to stop your pup from chewing the carpet is to simply limit their access to carpeted rooms and ensure they don’t have any unsupervised time if they are in a room with carpet.
3. Physical and mental stimulation
Make sure your dog is getting enough physical stimulation with daily exercise that meets the minimum requirements for their breed - more is always better if you have a high-energy dog on your hands. Mental stimulation is important too and alongside standard dog toys, the best dog puzzle toys are ideal for giving your mutt’s mind a good workout.
"Many of the causes of chewing can be improved by increasing the amount of interaction your dog has," confirms Woodnutt. "Try setting aside some quality time with your dog each day and playing some games or training together. This will improve boredom and increase mental stimulation, as well as reduce the need for attention-seeking behaviours."
4. Keep your canine occupied when you’re away from home
If you need to leave your pup at home for a few hours on their own, make sure you provide them with plenty of things to keep them busy. Kong toys are a fantastic choice as not only are these great for chewing, but they can be stuffed with ingredients like peanut butter and banana, which will keep your furry friend happy and entertained.
5. Crate training
Another good option for when you’re needing to pop out for a few hours is to learn how to crate train a dog. Investing in one of the best dog crates can give your pup a safe and secure place to stay when you’re not able to be with them and will prevent them from chewing on your carpet and other belongings. To help them feel comfortable in their crate, pop their bed and a nice cozy blanket inside and be sure to leave them with a few toys to play with.
6. Visit your vet
"If your dog is suffering from anxiety or a phobia you should consider professional help - your vet will be able to recommend a behaviourist who uses positive techniques," advises Woodnutt. A trip to the vet will also help when it comes to ruling out any underlying physical or mental health issues that could be contributing to your pup's carpet-chewing behavior.
Enjoyed this piece and looking for more great tips and tricks? Then be sure to check out our guide to how to stop a dog from jumping up.
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past three years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with a very mischievous Cocker Spaniel and a super sassy cat, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.