A destructive dog can be an expensive friend. Everyone knows that puppies like to chew. But perhaps one of the greatest shocks to many a new Labrador owner is just how destructive these dogs can be. Especially as they grow bigger and stronger but are not yet mature.
Labradors are very ‘mouthy’ dogs. They love to hold and carry things in their mouths, and they often have chewing down to a fine art. Some Labs continue to exhibit a great enthusiasm for munching up anything in sight, until around their second birthday. Part of the problem is boredom, and a dog left alone for long periods may be more likely to set about dismantling your property
Dogs are not selective about what they chew. And a ten month old Labrador with his adult jaws and teeth, can do an horrific amount of damage in the space of a few minutes if given sufficient opportunity. I have seen entire car interiors wrecked in this way. Some years ago one of my own Labradors destroyed and completely devoured both front seat belts of our car whilst left alone in it for a few minutes.
Stop Destructive Dog Chewing
Putting things away is a good place to start, but it won’t avoid damage altogether. It is amazing how much mess a bored dog can make in a relatively empty room. Dogs will chew skirting boards, rip up flooring and some will even scrape and chew plaster off the walls. One of the things you can do to help alleviate this obsessive need to chew is to provide your dog with more entertainment.
Best Chew Toys For Destructive Dogs
We love Kong toys for keeping our Labradors entertained.
The Kong Extreme
It has all the properties of the standard Kong toy, but in an even tougher more durable material. Simply fill it was treats, paste or even some of his dinner, pop it in the freezer, then give it to him to chew on. Many dogs will enjoy knawing their Kong toy even when it’s empty, but for the best effect for most Labs try filling it with something they love.
The Zogoflex Hurley Toy Bone
West Paw Design’s Zogoflex Hurley* is another big hit for destructive dogs.
This large bone shaped toy is designed with destructive dog chewing in mind. It should stay in tact despite your dog’s best efforts and keep him happily occupied too. It comes in a range of sizes, with the large being best for Labs. It also has a choice of colors, so you can pick the one you like best.
The Goughnuts Indestructible Dog Toy
Goughnuts are a big hit with many Lab owners, because they are designed for the most ferociously keen chewers. In fact, Goughtnuts claim that their toy is virtually indestructible*.
They don’t make this claim lightly, backing it up with a lifetime guarantee. The ring is made in a series of layers. If your dog manages to chew through the green outer layer to access the red inner one, then simply return the toy for a free replacement.
Toys Alone Probably Won’t Solve Destructive Chewing
Chew toys will help to keep your dog occupied and reduce the need to chew on other things. However, it will probably not on its own, solve or avoid a chewing problem. Young Labradors will still chew if left alone for any length of time.
Best Way To Stop Destructive Dog Chewing
The only guaranteed solution to destructive Labrador behaviour is to restrict the dog’s access to anything you value, and that includes the fabric of your home. If you have to leave a young dog on his own, make sure he is crated or when young confined in a puppy proof pen.
Fortunately dogs don’t view confinement in the same way as people, and if properly introduced to it, have no objection to being crated appropriately. I crate puppies when I go out, until well after their first birthday. A dog in a crate cannot chew anything but the toys you leave there for him.
Many of the problems people ask me about, including housetraining regression and destructive behaviour, are a direct result of too much freedom. However, there is potential for crates to be abused, and it’s important to recognise that you cannot leave puppies in a crate for long periods of time.
The Proper Use Of Dog Crates
Dogs left alone for hours on end in a crate may become distressed and are likely to howl. Check out our crate training article for more information.
Adult sized Labradors need big crates. The dog must be able to stand up without banging his head, to turn around comfortably, and to sleep stretched out on his side if he wants to.
If you work, or are going to be out for several hours, then you will need to arrange for someone to let your dog out and walk him or spend time with him. If you cannot do this, then the only alternative is doggy day care, or a proper outdoor kennel and run. Destructive chewing is no joke, but it is a very avoidable and normally a temporary problem.
De-crating Your Labrador
By the time your Labrador is two, he will probably have lost all enthusiasm for removing the contents of your cushions, and will happily sleep for a couple of hours whilst you are out. You will be able to leave your precious things lying around once more and fold your crate away, until next time!
If you think you are ready to stop using your Labrador’s crate, then check out this article for some great advice on de-crating.
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