Beautifully handcrafted in the 1800s, your exquisite walnut side table had aged to perfection and become a valuable antique. That is, until your dog gnawed away its "good bones" — undetected for days, weeks, maybe even months before the damage was glaringly obvious, and irreparable. Now you wish you had used a dog chewing deterrent.
If you're looking for the best dog anti-chew spray and exploring stop-a-dog-from-chewing-furniture home remedies to protect not only the rest of your prized collection of antiques, but also your wood baseboards and trim, and all your wood furniture no matter what era it's from, consider these homemade concoctions and handy tips that will have your dog ignoring your furniture, and keeping all his 42 teeth focused on dog-friendly chews.
Dogs naturally chew wood
Dogs will be dogs, and chewing is one of their passions! So, when you discover one of your favorite pieces of furniture has been damaged by your dog, remember that chewing is natural for dogs and keeps their jaws strong and teeth clean. If you're throwing sticks for your dog to fetch, or allowing your dog to pick up and chew sticks outside, you are ingraining in your dog a deep love for woody stuff. And that interest will sooner or later include your wood furniture.
Your dog will not discriminate between a fine ebony, rosewood, pine, or maple antique side table, or a birch branch she's grabbed on your walks through the trails — it's all wood, and she thoroughly enjoys chowing down on it, if allowed.
And, in fact, wood sticks, branches, furniture, and anything made of wood are some of the most dangerous items your dog will ever encounter in her lifetime, for a number of reasons. For one, wood splinters when chewed on. Jagged shards of wood can get jammed inside the mouth, causing infection, and if swallowed, may cause intestinal blockage.
Stop dogs chewing on wood
You need to stop your wood-loving dog in his tracks, and review a few options for homemade potions that stop dogs chewing wood. Lack of exercise, boredom, and separation anxiety are all reasons why your dog may be targeting your baroque console and pedestal table for his midnight munchies.
Consider what could be causing your dog to chew on your wood belongings. If a visit to your vet rules out any underlying medical causes, behavior modification with positive reinforcement will help curtail this habit. Of course, while you are training your dog out of a love affair with wood, you will need to protect your wood furniture from further damage.
Dog chewing deterrent spray
Relying on "out of sight, out of mind" methods to deter inappropriate chewing work if you can display your wood treasures in a room inaccessible to your dog. However, it's often impractical to hide everything that's constructed of wood since most furniture we use every day is made of wood, in addition to wood baseboards and trim throughout your home. Crate training, positive reinforcement training, and substituting safe, inedible dog chews work well in conjunction with dog chewing deterrent spray applications to your wood furniture.
As an alternative to commercial dog-chewing-deterrent sprays made with bitter apple, the best dog anti-chew spray is the one you whip up in your own kitchen. A simple recipe for homemade spray to use so dogs will not chew on furniture features natural, non-toxic ingredients that give you peace of mind your dog will not ingest any noxious substances in your quest to stop his chewing on wood.
Bitter apple spray is ridiculously easy to make, cheaper than store-bought, and you know exactly what's in it. Simply combine 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 cup of apple cider vinegar in a plastic spray bottle, then shake until well-blended, and spray lightly onto the wood you want to protect. That's it! Always test the spray on a small, inconspicuous area on the furniture piece to ensure it won't stain or discolor the wood.
Adding some sour-tasting citrus flavors from lemons, limes, or oranges may work as long as your dog dislikes the taste of citrus — some dogs do. Monitor your dog as you use your deterrents to make sure he doesn't acquire a taste for the spray.
Stopping destructive chewing
To stop dogs from chewing wood, the ASPCA advises that dog chewing deterrents alone do not solve behavioral problems. You have to work on training your dog to learn what he can and cannot chew. When you first use your deterrent spray, apply a small amount to a piece of tissue or cotton wool and gently place it directly into your dog's mouth. Once he tastes it, he'll spit it out if he finds the taste unpleasant.
Don't worry if he shakes his head, drools, or retches a bit — it's a natural reaction to the bitter taste. In conditioning him to make a connection between the taste and odor of your spray, he will hopefully avoid anything that smells even close, and won't be doing any taste-testing any time soon. After treating your wood furniture with some spray, supervise your dog to ensure he is indeed avoiding the items. Reapply the spray every day for two to four weeks, suggests the ASPCA.
To be successful, you should supervise your dog during all waking hours until you're confident his destructive chewing behavior is eliminated or at least under control. Whenever you catch him licking a wood table leg, for example, you know that chewing will follow. Say, don't shout, something like, "Uh-oh," suggests the ASPCA, then gently remove the item from his mouth, and insert an inedible dog chew or toy that he can safely chew as you simultaneously praise him in your "happy voice" — that cheerful, upbeat tone that is music to your dog's ears.
More about positive reinforcement
The "switcheroo" or substitution technique works beautifully for many dog behavior modifications and is an indispensable tool in positive reinforcement training. Avoid negative reinforcement as it can backfire and is just not effective. Bottom line, ignore the negative behavior and quickly, as seamlessly as possible, introduce the positive reinforcement.
In time, after you've gone through a few bottles of your homemade dog deterrent spray and successfully retrained your dog using consistent positive reinforcement, you won't have to worry about your dog doing any interior de-decorating.