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Stop Chewing and Digging

Updated on December 27, 2007


Dog Problem Behaviors

There are many problems that dogs and puppies succumb to in their lifetimes. Chewing and digging being two of the main problems many pet parents tend to have.

There are many reasons as to why you dog may have a problem with destructive chewing and digging, meaning there are many ways to correct it.

Using a 6 month old lab, as our example, we're going to try to correct your pups problem behaviors. Do take into account, that labs tend to be puppies until they are two years old, and chewing is a common destructive habit for most labs.

Puppy Chewing

Destructive Chewing

Puppies chew for a variety of reasons to include teething. Chewing irritates the gums, relieving the pain and pressure. At six months old, our lab puppy is still teething; his adult canines and back molars are still growing in.

Purchase safe, durable toys and chews for puppies to chew on while they are still teething. You can, also freeze certain fruits and vegetables to help alleviate the pain.

Make sure that the puppy gets enough exercise and social interaction.

Consider using a toy box to store chew toys and bones. This will help the puppy understand which items he is allowed to chew on.

Keep 'off limit' items away from the puppy and off the floor. Consider using a chew deterrent sold at most petstores. (Be careful with some sprays, as they may have the opposite affect that you want. When first bringing the deterrent home, spray a small area where the pup tends to chew, if he chows down, return the spray, and exchange it for a different brand. Sometimes individuals may like the taste of Bitter Apple, but hate Bitter End.)

If the puppy begins to chew on and 'off limit' item, give him something he can have.

Praise the puppy when he picks up and chews on an appropriate item.

Confine the puppy to a crate or puppy-safe room when you can't watch him appropriately.


Puppies and dogs dig for various reasons, to include boredom, mimicry, and to find a cool spot to lay. But, to really decipher why you're dog digs, you need to evaluate a few things.

We can determine why out 6 month old lab, is digging by where he chooses to dig.

  • Flower bed: Our puppy is mimicking our gardening skills.
  • Under a tree or bush: He is trying to find a cool spot to lay.
  • By the fence: The pup is trying to break free, due to his freedom instinct or just plain hormones.
  • All over: Our puppy is either bored or we have a rodent problem.

If our lab is digging in the flower bed, put him away when it's time to garden, so he cannot see you digging up the flowers.

Digging to find a cool spot to lay, is simple to correct. Provide our puppy with a dog house, cool water, or even a kiddy pool with a few inches of water.

Our pup may be getting a whiff of a dog in heat. It would be a good time to consider neutering the puppy.

And, the usual problem, of digging all over the yard... If you have a rodent problem, call an exterminator, to rid your yard of the rodents. Otherwise, provide your dog with plenty of exercise and attention to help aid the boredom. Possibly consider getting another puppy.

Other things to try include:

  • Keep his nails trimmed.
  • Consider using anti-digging outdoor repellents, such as 'Pet Organics No-Dig! Lawn & Yard Spray.'
  • Provide the puppy with a place he can dig. Set aside a corner of the yard and either (1) add a child's sandbox filled with the puppy's favorite toys, bones, and treats, letting him know it's safe to dig there. (2) You can section off the yard with lumbar, filling the section with play sand and again burying his favorite things.

Basic Obedience

Basic obedience training is a great way to start correcting problem behaviors with your dog. Teaching basic commands like, stay, wait, come, and leave it, can all save your dogs life one day.

Training your dog is a great way to build the bond that you truly want to have with man's best friend. It's, also, a great way to make a happier pet out of your dog. The less he's in trouble, the happier he is and the happier you are.

"Leave It" Command

Teaching the 'leave it' command will help our lab puppy with both his chewing and his digging problems. By giving the pup the command, he learns that he must leave that item alone or stop digging in that area.

You can teach you pup the 'leave it' command by taking his favorite 'off limit' item and offering it to him. When he goes after the, let's say, sock, tell him to 'leave it.' Continue saying 'leave it' until the puppy looks at you or away, even for just a brief second. Reward the puppy, telling him 'good leave it' and offer him a treat. Continue this process until your dog recognizes what you're asking of him.

Do not get ugly if the puppy does not respond to the command at first; he doesn't know what it means yet. At first, he will tug and tug trying to get at the 'off limit' item. Don't let him get to it, pull him back just enough. Do not cover the item, as it will teach the puppy that the item disappears, but what you want him to learn is to leave it alone.

Pictures can be found at


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