Dogs and puppies chew carpet and area rugs for several reasons. Puppies examine their surroundings and seek relief from teething by chewing. Puppies separated from their mothers and litter mates too soon may suck on fabrics, which can develop into carpet and rug-chewing. Adult dogs may chew due to boredom and separation anxiety.
Puppies: Carpet-Chewing Demolition Dogs
Your dog is likely chewing your carpet and rugs because he's a puppy, he's bored, or he has separation anxiety, which can lead to chronic destructive chewing. Many families acquire a cute puppy only to find that he or she is a one-dog demolition crew.
Puppies can develop a behavior called fabric sucking if removed from their mothers or litters before they're 8 weeks old. This behavior can develop into carpet and rug chewing as your puppy's first teeth fall out and are replaced by his adult teeth, which occurs between 4 and 6 months of age. Teething hurts, and puppies often seek relief by chewing.
When you catch your puppy or dog chewing a rug or carpet, redirect his chewing to an acceptable toy, or for teething puppies, a frozen treat or an ice cube wrapped in a clean cloth. When your dog or puppy chews the item you've provided, praise him in a happy and encouraging tone.
Dogs are social animals and can become anxious to a point of doing extensive damage to themselves and their environment when separated from their humans. Symptoms of separation anxiety often include multiple behaviors in addition to chewing rugs and carpet. Pacing, whining, barking and attempting to escape are examples of behaviors related to separation anxiety. Noise complaints or evidence of escape attempts indicate that your dog may have separation anxiety.
Have your dog examined by your vet to rule out health-related problems. Your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication and recommend minimum daily exercise and play sessions. Behavior modification with help from a professional canine behaviorist or dog trainer may help reduce anxiety that causes destructive chewing.
Your Dog is Bored
Playing with your dog or teaching him obedience commands and tricks can help reduce his boredom and wear him down enough so that he wants to sleep instead of chewing your carpet. Engaging with your dog in obedience training, agility and other activities provides quality time for you and your dog and directs his pent-up energy away from chewing your carpet.
Teach your dog to play tug and fetch games that you can enjoy together. Provide your dog with puzzle toys that contain treats or kibble and safe chew toys before leaving him home alone. If your dog has favorite chewing spots, try using a bitter-apple spray designed to deter chewing. Don't use hot sauce or homemade chewing deterrents as this can be dangerous to your dog.
Tips for Success
Chewing bones is a natural behavior for dogs; providing your dog with a variety of safe chew toys will help save your carpet. When purchasing chew toys for dogs, pay attention to quality. Look for toys that can withstand heavy-duty chewing and are large enough to prevent swallowing.
Get help if your dog continues to chew your carpet after you've tried exercise, training, chew toys and play. Professional dog trainers and behaviorists can evaluate your dog and find solutions to destructive chewing.
An ounce of prevention may save your carpet. Use baby gates, dog gates or a dog crate to keep your dog away from carpet. Dogs should not be crated for more than six consecutive hours.
Correct your dog with positive reinforcement. Hitting or yelling at your dog does not help him learn and could cause his chewing to increase due to stress.
Don't give your dog scraps of carpet or toys that resemble carpet to chew; he can't tell the difference between your prized Berber and a carpet-like chew toy.