How to Stop Your Labrador Chewing Things

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Having a large Labrador Retriever munch his way through your furniture is no joke.

[wp_ad_camp_5]Chewing is very destructive and even small puppies can do a lot of damage with their little teeth.

So, in this article, I’m going to show you how to stop your Labrador chewing up your things.

We’ll be looking at why puppies chew, why older Labs sometimes start chewing, and at the different options for fixing your chewing troubles.

And I’ll give you an ‘action plan’ to put an end to problem chewing for good.

Is chewing normal?

There is no doubt that some Labradors can be very destructive.  But is constant chewing normal?  Or is your Labrador suffering from some kind of behavioural problem?

I have read some interesting threads on forums, usually started by frustrated owners of puppies around six month of age that are systematically destroying the family’s possessions.

labrador puppy chewing
all puppies chew things – it’s normal

The responses are divided between those that think this behaviour is abnormal (“none of my dogs ever did that”) And those that think it is completely normal.

Over the last thirty-five years I have had usually had five or more dogs living with me at any one time. And have raised many puppies.

[wp_ad_camp_2]In the early days I had countless chair legs ruined,  entire vehicle safety belts devoured, base boards eaten, and numerous other items scoffed, chomped or otherwise dis-assembled.

I have learned from these experiences,  though perhaps not quite as quickly as I should have!

My take on this issue is that chewing, including extremely destructive chewing, is so common as to be absolutely normal. Particularly in young Labradors.

So if destructive chewing is pretty normal,  how long does this stage go on for, why do dogs do it, and what is the best way to deal with it?

How long does the chewing stage last?

Many people assume that chewing is to do with teething.

And they naturally expect that puppies will stop chewing everything in sight once their baby teeth are lost and their adult teeth have come through.

And for some dogs this is the case.  But for many Labradors, chewing continues long after the puppy has his full set of adult teeth

In fact it is fairly normal for a Labrador to continue to chew quite destructively up until around his second birthday.  Chewing tends to fall off quite dramatically after that.

Why do dogs chew?

It helps to understand why most dogs chew, and why labradors in particular chew a lot.

There are a number of common reasons for chewing, apart from teething, including

  • Boredom
  • Anxiety
  • Relaxation and pleasure
  • Habit

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Dogs that chew when they are bored

We all have different boredom thresholds, dogs are no different.  Some dogs are quite happy to do very little for hours on end, others, not so much.

Labradors are intelligent, sociable dogs, and are particularly prone to boredom if left alone for long periods.

One way of relieving boredom, if you are a dog, is to chew things up!

It isn’t uncommon for chewing to become a problem once a dog gets to around a year old and his owners start leaving him alone for longer stretches of time.  So it is worth bearing in mind how you are going to occupy your young dog when you are not there, and we’ll look at that in a moment.

Chewing as a means to relieve anxiety

Ideally, all dogs need to learn to spend time alone from puppyhood onwards.  A well adjusted adult dog is then happy to be left from time to time, and will simply sleep when you are gone.

How to stop your Labrador chewing things!

Dogs which are not taught to accept some periods of solitude in puppyhood, dogs which are left alone for far too long, or dogs that have had traumatic experiences when left alone may develop a disorder called separation anxiety.

A dog which becomes very anxious when left, may resort to destroying your possessions, or even the fabric of your home, in order to relieve his anxiety.

Which brings us to the point that the act of chewing is in itself, is very pleasurable and calming to many dogs.

Dogs chewing for relaxation and pleasure

There is no doubt that many dogs simply chew for fun.   They aren’t anxious, they are not particularly bored, they just enjoy having a good long chew.

It relaxes them, and makes them feel happy.

The problems arise, when that chewing activity is directed at the wrong items  –  your items!

Relaxation chewing is particularly common in Labradors and other retrievers.  This is probably partly because we have bred them to enjoy having things in their mouths.

Unusual causes of dogs chewing

Occasionally a dog will start chewing because he has some kind of medical problem.  This is more likely to be the cause if the chewing starts quite suddenly in an older dog that has never had a chewing problem before.

As with any other unusual changes in your dog’s behaviour, a chewing habit that suddenly appears in a mature dog, needs to be reported to your vet so that he can rule out any physical problems that may be affecting your pet.

Is my dog hungry?

Chewing isn’t really related to hunger, though of course a hungry dog may be bored or even stressed while waiting for his meal, and chew for those reasons.

Eating is a fairly transient affair for  most Labradors in any case, so you can never hope to prevent chewing by giving your dog something to eat.  It’ll be gone in a moment, doesn’t satisfy the urge to chew, and he’ll soon be as fat as a barrel.

Is chewing a habit?

Like many other stress busting or pleasurable activities, chewing can become a deeply ingrained habit.

Habits can be difficult to change and breaking a habit may involve physically preventing your dog from parts of your home. We’ll look at that in more detail below.

Now we have looked at all kinds of reasons for chewing, let’s make a plan to improve things.

Action plan to stop your Labrador chewing

Whether you have a small puppy in the throes of teething, or an older dog that is chewing from boredom or just because he can, there are three parts to our plan

  • Remove causes
  • Redirect the chewing
  • Break the habit

We’ll look at each of these in turn in a moment.  But some people will tell you that its a good idea to punish your dog if you catch him chewing up your things, so first let’s look at the role that punishment or corrections have to play.

What about punishing dogs for chewing?

There are a number of problems with punishment in general, but punishment for chewing is especially problematic.

Punishment, even very mild punishment, focuses a lot of attention on the dog and perversely, this can make things worse, especially with a dog that is bored, and/or craves more of your attention.

Many Labradors are quite attention seeking, they have been bred to work closely with their human partners and being together, is very important to them.

If your dog feels rewarded by your attention, even though you are angry with him, it won’t stop him wrecking your stuff in the future.

Behind your back

Most destructive chewing in older dogs goes on behind your back, or when you are out.  Punishment can sometimes be a way to teach your dog not to chew things in front of you.  It is however nigh on impossible to teach a dog not to chew things in your absence.

Short of setting up a video, monitoring it around the clock, and operating some kind of remote punishment device in your kitchen, it can’t be done.

Naughty LabradorPunishing the dog ‘at the scene of the crime’ so to speak, has been proven to be ineffective if there is any kind of time delay.

Punishment only works, if it occurs during the bad behaviour.

It won’t work if you punish your dog when you get home, for chewing up the sofa cushions while you were out.

He’ll just think you are grumpy and unreasonable.

Effectively, all punishment does, is teach your dog to be more sneaky about chewing.

Staying friends with your puppy

Remember also, that punishing a puppy will not prevent him chewing – he needs to chew and chewing is completely normal and natural for him.

What punishment will do, is make your puppy afraid of you.  So I really don’t recommend it.

#1.Remove the causes of chewing

So, let’s look at practical ways to stop your Labrador chewing things you don’t want him to chew.

The first step is to make sure you have removed the causes of chewing that can be avoided.  Let’s begin with boredom.

Preventing your dog being bored

Labradors need plenty of exercise and some company.  In many homes, everyone is out at work all day, and young dogs can get very bored when left alone for long periods.

Try to give your dog a good long walk before you leave for work, and arrange for someone to come in and take him for another walk part way through the day.  He is more likely to relax and sleep rather instead of dismantling your sofa cushions, if he has had enough exercise.

If your day is a very long one, consider sending him to doggy day care  where he will enjoy the company of other dogs while you are at work.

Combining a dog with full time work  can be challenging and you may need some extra help. You’ll find lots of information in that link and you can get support from other working dogs parents in our forum

Preventing separation anxiety

If your older dog has a separation anxiety issues do consider getting a consultation with a behaviourist.  They will be able to assess your dog in his home environment and give you a plan to help him.

If you have a young puppy, you can avoid separation anxiety developing by teaching your puppy to cope with being alone for short periods of time from an early age.

Check out my click for quiet article for more information on helping puppies that cry when you leave them.  And keep separations very short to begin with.

Make sure that puppies left alone for more than a minute or two, have something appropriate to occupy them.  Rescue dogs may need to be treated in a similar way, and introduced to separation gradually, when you first bring them home.

Chewing for pleasure

Of course there is one cause of chewing you cannot and should not try to remove, or prevent in your dog,  and that is chewing for pleasure.

What we do instead with dogs that like to chew for pleasure, and that includes all puppies, is redirect their chewing onto something more appropriate than your favourite shoes

#2. Redirect the chewing onto appropriate toys

Once you have tackled the causes of destructive chewing, you need to tackle your dog’s natural need to chew for pleasure.

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This means redirecting his chewing activities onto sensible alternatives. This isn’t always as straightforward as it might seem.

Most people give their dogs chew toys.  And wonder why he prefers to gnaw on the table legs.  The fact is, most chew toys are rather boring.

labrador puppy with rope toy
some puppies like a knotted rope

Some puppies enjoy those giant knotted rope toys, though they are not indestructible and you’ll need to keep an eye on them and remove them when they start to come apart.

The ideal chew toy

To really make chew toys appealing you usually need to add something interesting.  And for most Labradors, that means food.

Dipping chew toys in savoury spreads like marmite or peanut butter can help extend the pleasure time, but not for long.

The answer lies in the wonderful Kong toy.  In fact what you need is not one, but several Kongs.

Why Kongs help stop Labradors chewing your things

The kong is a hollow, tough, rubber toy that most dogs cannot destroy. The Kong Extreme is especially sturdy and great for very aggressive chewers.

greenies for dogs
The important part however of a Kong’s structure is the hollow in the middle.

Your job is to fill this hollow centre with something delicious and then (this is the important part) freeze it solid.

When you leave your puppy or young dog alone or unsupervised for long –  give him a frozen Kong first.

This will keep him happy for quite some time.

Choosing the right kong

You can get Kongs in puppy sizes for little ones, and in extra strong rubber (black) for really strong chewers.  The red ones are suitable for most adult Labs.

kong1You’ll need several so that there is always one ready and frozen in the freezer while the others are being washed and refilled.

Kongs are not the cheapest toy, but they are an indispensable aid to the long term prevention of destructive chewing.  Don’t leave home without giving one to your dog.  This is especially important with dogs that have an existing chewing habit, or suffer from boredom or anxiety.

So, now you have tackled your dog’s boredom, and any anxiety issues, and you have an alternative system for redirecting his chewing onto his frozen kong toys.  What next?

#3. Avoid or break bad habits

The final step in the plan is to break any existing bad chewing habits, and in young puppies, to prevent those habits developing.  In both cases this is a physical issue.

When it comes to avoiding or breaking bad habits, it means physically preventing the puppy from being able to indulge in them.

Some people struggle with this. They are hoping for a command or cue to give their dog, that will prevent chewing in their absence.  But this isn’t going to happen.

Putting things away

Before we have our first dog, we are all used to being able to put things down on the floor or low tables, and for them to still be there when we come back.

Life with a puppy isn’t quite like that.  If you leave the TV remote on the chair, your puppy will pick it up.  He’ll then run around with it for a bit, and when he’s done running, he’ll lie down and chew it up.  That’s what puppies do.

Trying to deal with this one incident at a time is exhausting and you’ll soon fall out with your puppy in a big way.

The best way is to prevent your puppy having access to rooms with important items in them, and to teach yourself and your kids to pick up your stuff in rooms where puppies have free access.  Obviously, you can’t put your sofa away, or your favourite lamp, so let’s look at protecting things that cannot be moved.

Repellent sprays

You can buy spray on repellents that will put some puppies off chewing.  You can try spraying it on your table legs and so on.

Bitter apple spray is a popular one, and it does work, for some dogs.  Sadly not for all.

Some puppies and young dogs seem indifferent to the taste and will happily carry on chewing your furniture or baseboards, even when liberally coated in unpleasant substances!

A more effective solution, and one that is particularly suitable for puppies that are not yet fully house trained, is physical exclusion.

Methods of physical exclusion

To keep puppies away from your more precious possessions and soft furnishings, at a minimum, you’re going to need some baby gates.

Put these across doorways or anywhere you don’t want the puppy to go.  Upstairs for example.

For older dogs, you can get taller baby gates that even a Labrador can’t jump.

You can even get extending baby gates for large openings in open plan homes.

If you are interesting in finding out more about this then check out our puppies and baby gates article.

Crating your puppy

Many people use a crate to keep their puppy out of mischief at night, and when they leave the house.  Some of you won’t want to do this, but for those that do, there is plenty of information in our crates and crate training section.

If you are going to crate your puppy you need to do so for very short periods of time and leave the puppy suitable chew toys to occupy his need to chew while you are gone.

If you are going to go out for longer periods, then you’ll need to get someone to care for your puppy or use a puppy play pen or puppy proof room, instead of a crate.

Don’t forget your vehicle!

Crates are really useful in vehicles too and can save a lot of heart ache.  One small dog can run up a very large bill when left alone in the interior of a car for a few minutes.

Many years ago my young Labrador ate through both the passenger and driver safety belts in our Landrover when left alone for less than twenty minutes.   That was a pretty expensive lesson for us as a young hard-up couple.

You can buy safety harnesses for young dog to sit on the back seat of your vehicle, but these and the interior of your car are vulnerable to the attentions of your labrador’s teeth.

A crate in the vehicle is often a better solution until your Labrador has got past the chewing stage.

What about puppy bedding?

People often ask me what they can do about their puppy chewing up his own bed.
This is a tricky one.

None of us wants to see a puppy without a bed, but if your puppy is tearing lumps off his and swallowing them, you are going to need to remove it for a while.

A firm mat, or some vet bed is often the best option for bed chewers, but you’ll need to watch and supervise to make sure your puppy isn’t swallowing that too.

When the chewing finally stops

At some point, most dogs, even Labradors, grow out of constant chewing.

At this point, having broken the bad habit or successfully prevented one from starting, you’ll be able to give your dog the freedom of the house.  You can heave a sigh of relief and put away your bitter apple spray.

The moment at which you reach this point will vary from dog to dog but is easily misjudged.  I recently answered a question from the owner of a young Labrador that had been de-crated at seven months old.   He had been very well-behaved in the house for a couple of weeks, and then the chewing had begun.

The problem was that his owner had de-crated him a little too soon, while he was still in the chewing stage.

De-crate carefully

In the article I set out a de-crating plan for her, which you might find helpful if you are wondering if now is the right time to give your Lab some more freedom.

[wp_ad_camp_1]It is very tempting to de-crate big dogs too soon.  This is because large dogs need large crates, and large crates are an unsightly nuisance in all but the biggest houses.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

It may help to remember that many Labradors will carry on chewing things they shouldn’t chew, well past their first birthday, and some will continue until they are around two years old.

So, a little patience is required.

Remember to be very generous with those frozen Kongs during the de-crating process and for the next few months.

If your dog hasn’t started a chewing habit by then, he probably never will.

Summary

As you can see, chewing is pretty normal, especially in Labradors, and it can last for much longer than early puppyhood.

Most experts now agree that destructive chewing is best avoided by reducing boredom, treating any anxiety problems, providing appropriate chew toys, and preventing very young dogs from having access to your more precious things.

With dogs that have already become destructive, it is especially important to break the habit by preventing access to the things he was destroying.  This can take a little time and patience, but gets long term results.

More help and information

Don’t forget that de-crating needs to be done in stages, and there is a de-crating plan in this article to help you.

Happy-Puppy-jacket-image1-195x300For a complete guide to raising a healthy and happy puppy, including managing puppy problems and misbehavior, don’t miss The Happy Puppy Handbook.

It will help you get your puppy off to a great start with potty training, socialisation and early obedience.

The Happy Puppy Handbook is available worldwide.

Do you have a chewer?

Is or was your Labrador a chewer?  What is the most expensive / precious thing your dog ever destroyed?  Tell us your story and share your pain with us in the comments box below!


 
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This article has been extensively revised and updated for 2015

220 COMMENTS

  1. WE HAVE A WONDERFUL DOG NAMED BECKHAM. HE IS NOT ARE FRIST SO WE HAVE BEEN AROND THIS TREE BEFORE. BECKHAM MY LOVING HUNTTING BOY TURNS IN TO THIS MONSTER THAT CHEWS EVERTHING HE CAN REACH ALSO SOMETHINGS THAT HE HAS TO CLIMB UP TO REACH. I KNOW AS A GOOD DOG OWNER HE SHOULD NOT BE LEFT ALONE BUT SOME TIMES IT HAPPENS AND BECKHAM DECIDED MY DAUGHTERS RETAINNER WAS BETTER TO CHEW ON THEN THE 20 TO 30 $ OF DOG TOYS IN HIS DOGROOM. I HAVE ANOTHER DOG WHO RUNS ABOUT THE HOUSE AND HAS CHEWED NOTHING BUT HIS TOYS SINCE WE BROUGHT HIM HOME WERE DID WE GO WRONG ? IM BEGINNING TO BELIEVE THAT SOME DOGS JUST LOVE TO CHEW

  2. my lab is about a year old. he chews on things in my absence and knows what he did was wrong. however I have put several different kinds of blankets in his crate at night and during the day while im at work. he chews them up and I have put toys in there as well and still chews his blankets up any ideas.

    • My Lab was the same I got a strong waterproof bed it wasn’t cheep but it’s the only bed my dog hasn’t chewed up I was buying at least 1 a week they r really strong material, instead mine has now resorted to chewing plaster of walls lol

  3. My chocolate lab is about 2 1/2 years old and seems to be going crazy! We bought an extra large dog crate and she has managed to tear it apart! She has eatin away at our backyard fence. I can’t keep her in the back yard, she can’t be in her crate anymore. When I put her in a room she eats at the door and scratches up the walls. I babysit my nieces everyday so I started to take her with me. At first she was good but now when I have to leave her outside when I go pick up my boys from school she is now digging holes and chewing on things in my sister in laws back yard! I don’t know what else to do! I think we are going to have to get rid of her 🙁

    • Hi Darci, it would probably help you to see a behaviourist. There are many reasons for destructive behaviour in an older dog including but not limited to anxiety, frustration, lack of exercise, stress, isolation and ill health. A behaviourist will be able to assess the dog in his home environment and advise you on the probable causes and give you advice on resolving your dog’s behaviour.
      Pippa

  4. Well we have taken in Harper a 7 month old border collie black lab mix… she has eaten 4 pairs of shoes, 2 packs of peepads, my kitchen table and chairs, 4 pieces of firewood, a cellphone(no longer will even turn on), a charger, a lamp, her lead and harness, and a shreder machine… we are exhausted… Crate training here we come!

  5. Callie is 1 yr old Lab. She has chewed her way thru money, clothes, furniture, and her favorite, Klenex tissue. I do crate her when I am not at home, therefore, she does all these things when I am at home and she is not crated. When she gets really quiet, that is when I know she is up to no good. All the people I have spoken to, tell me I have at least another year before this behavior stops. I am at my wits end because I know by her actions, she knows that what she is doing is wrong and not acceptable. It is like having a toddler in the house again where you have to watch them constantly. The coming year should be interesting!

    • Hi Phyllis, it is a challenging time for you, but restricting your dog’s access to specific parts of the house will help you to cope. Also, your dog really does not know she is doing anything wrong. Check out this article and hang on in there 🙂

  6. thanks for getting back so soon, we was thinking about getting a crate but we do not want to put our 10 year old in one has she hasnt been in one before and they both lay beside each other.

  7. hi there,
    I need a bit of advise, I have got a 16 months Labrador. She is lovely dog however when she is left for amount of hours she chews her bedding. we have tried the Kong and found that this doesn’t last that long with her. we also tried getting big bones for her to chew as well but that is the same. we have spend lots of money on bedding and do not want to spend more money when she continue to chew it. we also a 10 year old and she wasn’t nothing like my 16 months.
    also we have a problem with her jumping at people when they entre through door, we tell her to get down but this seems to not be working either.
    if you could help me that would be great.
    thank you for reading this.
    kelly

    • Hi Kelly, I suggest you follow the crating advice in the article above. Many young dogs destroy their bedding, and the answer is to remove it, or use cheap bedding or old towels and blankets until this phase is over. The jumping up article is in the behaviour section in the menu at the top of the page. Best wishes, Pippa

  8. I have 2 51/2 month lab puppies….OMGoodness I am glad I went to this web site…I feel so much better. Mine have eaten base boards AND the paneling nails (A trip to the vet for that one), chewed through my TV cables twice, destroyed the fence I put up around the TV cables, eaten towels, shoes, TV remote controls (I SWEAR they soak those things in meat!), any scrap of paper, note from loved one, picture, that might be on the refrigerator, mail and bills on the kitchen counter, and two dining chair seats. Apparently my bitter spray is defective! But through it all, I love my Stud and Muffin.

  9. My 6 month old female lab eats EVERYTHING! She has eaten clothing, phone chargers… Anything she can get her mouth on. She initially was also doing very well with house training but now she goes wherever she pleases, even after she has just used the bathroom outside. Please help!

  10. Reading many of the forgoing stories, i gain the impression owners treat their dogs as humans and give them far too much freedom INDOORS but virtually none OUTDOORS. Yeah its kind of funny the first time a slipper is all chewed up.
    But did the chewer get properly reprimanded. A pet dog is still a dog…animal….and needs to be treated as such. My dog is allowed in the house daily in the evening for 2 hours but knows its rest place is in the corner of the lounge. never bedrooms, kitchen etc. sure she at first tried to wander but strong words trained her to stay put. I think maybe big chewers are mostly kept indoors and with total freedom. Dogs chew because nothing else to occupy their boredom. Mine stays outdoors all day and night. Has shelter from rain and sun and complete freedom in the garden, yard and fenced frontage. Loves to chase butterflies , play with cockroaches out at night, watch the wild birds eat the 6.30am breakfast i throw out for them, studies the bullfrogs and sometimes tease them with her nose as they hop about seeking the pond.. Still give her an off-lead 1 hour walk and sniff-sniff wander each day. Also a couple hours on the beach 2 or 3 times a week. she loves swimming and searching for submerged stones. Back home after her shampoo she is content to rest in the frontage and watch the schoolkids and shoppers pass by. many know her and spend a few minutes tickling her ears. By the way, she is now a healthy alert trained 9 month old golden labrador. My previous labrador bitch exactly the same treatment. We were together for many years. Understood and close, but she knew her place was as a dog not a human child. So to all you owners of chewers i suggest you get your dog outside and give it plently of exercise and freedom. Think, what does a human toddler do when it is bored? what does a teenager do when it is bored? what do many adults do when they are bored? So one cannot blame the dog. QUESTION FOR SCOTT. you are surely joking yes? You do not really have your dog sit at the family meal table ???!!!My gawd. Next you will say it joins u in the shower.

  11. LOL… You this morning, I woke up again with Maddie laying on my chest and she was noozling me to get up since I’m deaf and can’t hear my alarm… However, heh… This is the most destructive dog I have every had.. a throughbred black lab. Shes 27 wks and a lil over 65 lbs… This dog… oh man, this dog, the best I can describe, is chew chew chew chew chew… I have a recliner in my living room that has be dismantled completely, the only thing that remains in certain spots is the literal metal framing of the chair.. LOL. Pens… chomped.. she discovered what ink was, now she literally leaves the cartridge aside and destroys pens… MY HEARING aids… LOL… furniture legs, my living room window sills, now the couch… the back sliding door. seatbelts.. The floor level caps, my wallet and credit cards, pillows… The funny thing is she treats her toys like their proper, actually keeps them in order and finds everything else in the house appealing. I don’t understand it. I did lose my patience this morning and I felt bad, as its a regular thing. I do use a crate, but I also know I can’t seal her up all day… She potty trained quick, and I’ve taught her 6 tricks already and sits cute at the dinner table and waits for us. Shes actually pretty awesome. Reading this stuff kinda gave me yet another idea, I think I’m going to just throw a log in the middle of the room and see what happens.. She loves wood… I’d rather deal with the mess, and I was going to wait until she stopped chewing to replace the recliner!! which, BTW looks more like hate art now than a chair.. Ironically, the place where she sits is untouched, and the rest of the chair is completely destroyed.. LOL

    • I have a 6 month old boxer lab mix who is such a lover. We used crate for the first 2 months we had her when she went 3 weeks with out an accident inside we let her sleep upstairs with us. It breaks my heart in the last she has chewed my fiancés glasses a pair of remotes and a blackberry cell phone. When we leave the house she is confined to the kitchen always. I thought it was cause I left to go to the gym in the mornings and then this morning I wake up to the cell phone. Do I make her sleep alone and listen to her whining? She’s getting fixed on Monday will that change her habits? She gets plenty of exercise and attention. HELP makes me feel like we should have never adopted her maybe she’s not happy here

  12. Hi: We have a 9 mo old Ivory Lab (beautiful) Lucy. Lucy is a sweetie, however, quite a chewer. So far irrigation lines in backyard (3), Pruned our azealas, 1 TV clicker, crate bedding, numerous magazines, came out of bedroom with my watch in her mouth. (saved). Then she can be best cuddly lover. Plenty of exercise really helps. Works good on leash, sits, stays. Off leash stays with me and recalls. I am 73 yr old…..lost 24 lbs since Apr. walking Lucy. She is very smart. Mother and Dad were both Nat’l and Internat’l Champs show ring and hunting. Keeps my life active..love it.

  13. hi guys my 2 yr old gold lab febe, loves to rip out plants and sometimes chew, she stopped for a while but we have recently got a garden and shes started to attack them shes got plenty of toys and goes for a walk each day, does anyone know how i can stop this??!

    • Hi am after some advise I have a one year old fox red lab . He has just started chewing . Hes has a good attempt at my sofa. Our lab is also really good at opening all our doors in are house. Can any one help me and asvise me on whats best to do . Many thankx

  14. Hi, so reassuring to read about the chewing by labradors. We have a female choc lab who has chewed endless amouts of stuff. We do have a crate which she wanders into but however hates being left at night in it, she howls and cries and usually pees and poos in it for good measure. It has now been two months and tonight we are going to persevere as I cannot face another morning of devastation! I have been feeling defeated lately, she is so lovely our Rosie and wants to play all the time even with our three cats, who are not keen! Another 6 mths to a year seems like a long haul.

  15. Hi just thought I would tell you that hot chilli sauce works on table and chair legs to stop the chewing not sure how to prevent her from chewing clothing or cushions though that’s a tricky one, good luck with that.

  16. Our lab loves Crocs shoes. She is addicted to them, since my husband buys them in tons, she has already got her own to chew. She also like socks and underwear. We would scold her and punish her when she chewed our cushions but no use. She would keep on doing that… anyways, we already got used to that. Still we love her soooo because she is a wonderful dog….

  17. Our first pup chewed the table legs and chair legs if left for any length of time. Also dug up garden & chewed bark off trees. We have a 18month old pup now who has not chewed anything except my husbands socks and shoes. I think we invest a lot more time exercising this pup. & I am hopeful that someday my husband will learn to tidy up after himself… 🙂

  18. Loving reading these comments. In the past I too have had dogs chew lots of things. Worst being one of my son’s first pair of Clarkes shoes and totally destroyed my childhood teddy. That was a sad (and mad) day. Makes me realise how glad I am that my last two dogs have been older (4 and 2 yrs) rescue labs and had already outgrown this. I personally wouldn’t get a puppy again.

  19. Our 18 month old Storm has chewed everything he shouldn’t despite having lots of his own toys, he has systematically demolished a sofa, a coffee table, carpet, rugs, tv remote, coasters, newspapers, shoes, slippers, a telephone, Internet modem and wiring, artificial coal from the electric fire, a pair of glasses, a vase with artificial flowers, a bowl of pot pourri…..the list is endless!! But despite this he is the most loving dog with a character to match and we wouldn’t change him for the world.

  20. This all makes me feel so much better. Are Lab Harry has eaten all the leatherette off my brand new dinning table, corner of the sofa, destroyed the cushions, 3 dogs beds, a laptop charger lead, pulled up the vinyl in the porch and munched his way through so many pairs of shoes I have lost count. Sometime you forget what the reach capcity can be you think it is high enough but oh no!! He is 6 months old and like some people I have never had to crate any of my other pooches however this is our first lab. I have just invested in one as think it is the best option for us now wish me luck!!

  21. Bailey our middle golden lab is 2yr old, we never believed in crating him as our older golden lab Bruce was never crated and never destroyed anything, Bailey though has gone through several slippers, his toys, the kids toys, toilet rolls, books, walls, hairbrushs, coats, dustbins, leads, wallpaper that was actually on the wall!!!, doors, lost count on how many of his beds he’s destroyed, but his biggest destructions have to be the stair carpet and the radiator pipe which turned my hallway into an indoor paddling pool lol,we learnt our lesson from Bailey when we got Coda our chocolate lab who’s now 6mths, he is crated and has only destroyed his toys with the help of Bailey while Bruce the oldest lab sits and watches them in disgust lol

  22. Ollie is around 7 1/2 months now and have to say he does love to chew. He is my first dog in over 20 years- it took that long to convince my hubby. He is an absolute star but couldn’t count what he has actually chewed his way through. What I can say is everything he has chewed we have given him, be it doggy toys, old shoes, teddys, sticks, my kids old toys and so far not a bit of furniture has been touched. It’s just the mess he doesn’t seem to tidy up yet. Also advocate the crate/cage. That’s his safe place and goes in and out of his own accord, so happy to go in there at bedtime and when we all go out.

  23. We have a 10 week old labrador and she is just wonderful! Obviously she chews and plays and does all those things that puppies do… BUT she seems to think my legs are a toy too. I’ve tried everything – distracting her with another toy, yelping like other dogs would, a small bop on the nose and a loud No… standing very still with arms crossed and ignoring (although this is hard because her teeth are sharp and it hurts my legs!) they all seem to make her attack more. She only does this to me, NOT my husband, I think he’s firmer with her. I finally had enough today and picked her up and locked her in her crate. She didn’t complain, just went to sleep. I really want to avoid using that method as she loves her crate and I don’t want her to associated it with punishment. Any tips / suggestions out there?

      • Pick her up and place her alone in another room and shut the door. Don’t look at her or anything. Leaver her for 30 secs then let her out. EVERY time do the same. She will get the idea – she won’t want to be by herself.

  24. I recently lost my 3 year old choc lab to cancer. We have reserved a yellow lab puppy who will be ready to come home at the end of October. I had to take my choc lab to the vet when she ate through our surround system and main wall in the living room, her eyes were bulging when we went into the room and she had to go to get an antidote. She tricked us into thinking she didnt need the crate anymore, our new girl wont fool us though, the crate will be there for at least 18 months. We both work from home so it just shows how quickly your lab will have a chew when your back is turned.

    • wow I feel much better now came on for a bit of reassurance, we got sox a red fox labrador at 9 weeks he is now 16 weeks and we know we have got him, he has completely destroyed my tree in the garden and has now scratched and munched through my wallpaper in the dining room, destroyed 2 chairs and ripped 4 cushions apart and his blanket we have decided to crate train after reading positive threads about it so I am off to get 1.

  25. I have a 6 month old, what I believe is a lab, got him from the shelter, they said he was german sheppard but doesn’t look like it. He is fine when I’m home, but as soon as I leave he has a field day. He has eaten, my coffee table, fish food, baby formula, toys, clothes, playpen, pencils, laptop, the front door, the trim in my bathroom, etc. I tryed crating him and he ate that too, he can’t be stopped. And all or most of this items where left on the kitchen counter, go figure

      • But what do you do when they can get themselves out of the metal crate? My 2 1/2yr lab/Shepard mix is hard to crate, has chewed through plastic ones, chewed through another crate, and figured out how to push her way free from the metal crate, we recently got a new metal crate that latches closed a bit different than the last, however, I figure it’s just a matter or time before she figures out how to escape that one too…I am not really a fan of crating a dog though, this is the first dog I have ever done this with, my other dogs in the past once outgrew the chewing stage were always free to roam the whole home and not be trapped and confined to crate, feels cruel to me, feel bad every time I leave Marley in her crate, she hates it! I don’t blame her really, I know I hate to be trapped in a room all day, but it needs to be done for her own safety, not wanting her to get into anything that could hurt her, just wish there was a way to teach that she could be free in the house I she didn’t want to chew our stuff…but it seems a lesson she isn’t ready to learn yet lol

  26. Is there anything bad about using a muzzle while transporting a young labrador inside a car? I understand that is probably not a good training tool (he may start again chewing up the car the day the muzzle is removed), but perhaps there are situations, like car trips, where prevention alone (rather than appropriate training), is an acceptable strategy.
    I have a two month old labrador puppy, and my car is a bit small to fit a crate that will be large enough when the dog is adult, so I am starting to think of strategies for car trips with him (particularly for the times when I will be alone with him in the car). Any comments would be much appreciated.

    • Hi Paolo, I recommend you buy a portable carry crate which will fit your dog for the next few months. You can place this on the rear seat and put a belt around it. I don’t recommend muzzling small puppies.
      Best wishes,
      Pippa

      • So I thought a muzzle idea sounded OK, might it be OK on a grown dog? Seems much easier than hauling a crate in n out as I can’t leave it in all the time…

  27. We lost our 15 year old yellow lab last year he was a nightmare chewing everything from the skirting boards to the wall at the back door taking all the plaster off it. He was about 18 months old when he pulled the toaster and a deep fat fryer off and chewed that. He also went through a carpet and a Lino so we then put ceramic tiles down.
    We now have another yellow lab which is 9 months old we have gone through 4 phone chargers and 10 pairs of shoes, on the plus side he hasn’t touched a piece of furniture or anything else in the house. We wouldn’t be without a lab they are such great dogs.

  28. Hi,
    I have a 11 month lab who start chewing things. We live in HK where is very compact. My trainer advice us to use mouth guard while he will be alone. I wonder if it works. My next worry is when he will stop, and can let him be alone without chewing things. Will it be over?
    Savio

  29. Got an 18month chocolate. Maggie was a good girl was crated till 8 months she has 2 other dogs to play with when we are out and lots of her own toys. In the last month she has started to chew carpets, dog beds in fact anything she fancies. I count myself lucky still as she is the 4th lab we have had and so far has caused the least damage.

  30. Our chocolate Lab is 9 months old , he isn`t too bad at chewing , his problem is he eats anything ,last sunday he began vomiting ,after numerous times we took him to see the emergency vet , xray later and as they couldn`t be sure he hadn`t got a blockage decided to operate , piece of hose pipe , rawplug and string had caused a blockage in his small intestine !! We try to watch him like a hawk but it isn`t always possible . Errol didn`t really improve and was in alot of pain not helped by our vet practice not having 24hr care , we had to take him to a 24 emergency practice who did the night shift care !! Tuesday on getting him to our vets , Matt our vet decided he needed 24 hr care and was worried he had developed peritonitis ,he was brilliant, but we then had an hour and a half journey to solihull because our nearest referral centre had refused to take him .He was scanned and imediately given a second op we were told he had a 50/50 chance ,he came home yesterday , 6 days later !!he is doing so well after a traumatic , worrying week thanks to a brilliant specialist vet called Rob White and all his team at the Willows, we have our not so little pup back , personally I would sooner have the chewing than eating everything in sight,if we hadn`t got good insurance saving errols life would have cost nearly £8000 in all ,now i`m his shadow instead of him being mine ,he is so lovable and it nearly broke our hearts to see him so ill ,don`t ever fail to take yours to the vet if they have persistant vomiting ,he wouldnt be here now if we hadn`t acted when we did , hasn`t put us off ,when errol is a little older we are going to get him a playmate maybe black next time though lol x

  31. hiiii i have a lebra….he is one year old jojo . he name is ….he is tooo naughty some tyms but love bee..he use to eat all ma expensive slippers..he torn ma lib book for which i had pay extra n it was emrassing for me… he chew new things..n toys…….ha ha ha h its funny to run after him n save things….he torn all ma soft toys….n even decoration items set in ma drawing room i have hiddded all the things from him…

  32. What hasn’t my chocolate lab chewed? He has chewed tv remotes, my cordless phone, my husbands reading glasses twice, every shoe box in the house, my sugar bowl, my plastic bowls that I take my food in for work, my hiking boots(over $100), my support shoes for teaching ($140) many, many pairs of shoes, pens, pencils, flyswatters, the handle of my rocker-recliner, the drywall and trim on the house, the trim on the doors, pill bottles and he jumps up and gets on my sink and stove and takes any food left sitting to cool. All I can say is…..OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!!!

  33. A very interesting article , responses too ! My young Lab did destroy a kitchen rug and a pair of shoes, but then it just stopped completely . However, our latest addition is another kettle of fish altogether and being a rescue pup who has been in a shelter, we realise that her issues may go much deeper and is most likely anxiety based . I havent ever used a crate for any of my dogs , the Labs or Terriers but , judging by the wrecked dog basket that I got up to this morning , I think I will have to read up on crate training and invest, just for unsupervised times !

  34. Hi I have a 8 month golden lab, who we love too bits, my husband and I work so he can be left alone 4days per week for anything between 4-8 hours depending on our shifts, he has chewed my door frames numerous times, back door, ripped my vinyl tiles up and started recently chewing my kitchen units. He is always left a full kong and loads do strong chewy toys, I’m at my wits end now help????

    • Hi Debbie, young Labradors can be very destructive, and the solution lies in proper use of a crate. There are links in the article above for more information. Let me know if you have any queries about crate training. You can’t leave a dog in a crate for hours on end, so you will need to arrange for someone to come in and walk him or be with him if you leave him alone for long. Pippa

      • We have a sweet 3 month chocolate lab. Her name is Lucy. She has been house trained since week 12. We leave her in her crate from 7:30 – 5:30 and we have a dog walker that comes at 12:30-1:00 and she is perfectly fine. We come home to a clean crate and walk her immediately. Everything is about a consistent schedule and training your pup early for the crate. She would scream when we first put her in there but that barely lasted a week. The tough part is leaving them. When we get home she gets plenty of exercise and always has a set of eyes on her. She still bites playfully non stop and chews on whatever she can get. We always try to replace it with a toy or say ouch! NO very loud and walk way. Then go back to playing with her using a toy. The biggest thing to remember is to be patient (which I am guilty of at times), set a schedule and be consistent.

  35. My Lola is now 6 months. And a chewer. She has never chewed any furniture , just anything that is left lying around such as shoes (she demolished a brand new pair of boots i got delivered last week), toys, bins,my duvet, toilet rolls, photo frames etc . She doesnt do it when im at home, just when im away to work (she is left alone for 5 hours day time ). I did have a crate for her and used it when we first got her at 8 weeks, but did the ‘oh shes just a baby lets get her up here sleeping with us’ ..then she hated the crate after that. Im thinking of trying the crate with her again, but im guessing it will be harder for her now she is older and will probably hate it. She doesnt get the run of the house when im at work. I close all the doors and she just gets the hall and the kitchen, but the last few days she has actually been able to open the bedroom doors and demolished a power drill, wallpaper (wrapped, not on walls yet), underwear out the laundry basket, and both her plastic water and food bowl! at his rate i wont have anything left in the house!! I also have some anti chew spray which i have used, but not convinced it works! So i will prob go with the crate and see how that goes, although im sure i will come home to my neighbours complaining about a dog howling! (but the cant complain really, as she has only barked three times since weve had her! And even through all this, she is still our princess. naughty, but nice 🙂

    • A lot of labradors need to be crated for more than the first six months to avoid damage from chewing. Some will carry on chewing until part way through the second year. You should be able to train your dog to enjoy going into the crate using food rewards over a period of several days.

  36. Barley is our eight month old golden Lab. So far he has destroyed numerous pairs of shoes, dug a hole in the kitchen floor, chewed several chair legs, and destroyed the kitchen sofa. I am looking at replacing the sofa and wondering if anyone thinks leather would be any better? We do have a crate and he is happy to go in it but generally he hangs out on the kitchen sofa (which is now totally wrecked). My worry is, if I get a new sofa now – will he destroy that too? Advice please.

    • Hi Daisy, the answer to your question is ‘very probably’. Barley’s behaviour is completely normal. Most Labradors chew a great deal until well after their first birthday. Some carry on until around two years of age, though most stop before this. I do not personally leave a dog unsupervised outside a crate around any furniture I care about, until this stage is passed. Pippa

  37. Reading the comments so far during my lunch hour – hilarious! We have 18month Nell (our 3rd Lab) who can’t be trusted for any length of time at all. Nothing structural yet (unlike our 1st Lab who rendered our hallway in to something resembling the Gaza Strip), but there has been destruction of small personal items such as mobile phone, glasses, a favourite cardi, shoes, remote control unit, garden plants etc., etc. all whilst our backs are turned. Needless to say she is crated when alone housed with her beloved stuffed kong which she would crawl over broken glass for! But compared to the companionship and unconditional love she gives our family, this is a small price.

  38. My Lola is nearly 4 months old. I grew up with dogs including a lab, but lola is the first of my own. I had a crate for her when i first brought her home, but made the mistake of taking her out of it when she cried etc, and now i hardly use it. She hasnt chewed too much…. just her bed, demolished my duvet, a few of my favourite photos that she managed to get out of the frames, too many loo rolls to mention, and my favourite 5 inch heels!! She hasnt started on any furniture yet tho! apart from that she is a good girl…but i think its time to introduce the crate again before she starts eating the couch etc!

  39. I can relate to the Land Rover seat belts, safely behind a LR dog guard with a companion I thought she’d be safe and secure, how wrong I was. Hebe (now a sensible-ish five) totally destroyed the back of my Discovery, fascia, carpets, connectors to the heated read screen, everything stowed in the big bucket panniers – how she got stuff from the bottom without getting stuck I’ll never know. She didn’t eat the dog leads or the training dummies, however she did get under the back seats and chew through the seatbelts which we didn’t know about until MOT time. Complete replacement involving the removal of the whole back seats to check and re-bolt to the bodywork, the bill was a significant four figures. And it only took her half an hour!
    After that seat belts were drenched in washing up liquid, it is the best dog chewing deterrent I’ve found, it works well on carpet (that was Finnegan, wolfhound), skirting boards (Cara, wolfhound), studs on dog bed covers (Juno, labrador, throughout her life) but not on central heating boilers including the electrics – that one was Maia, twice! Fix for boilers is masses of chicken wire.
    We now have a large crate, currently packed away awaiting the next pup in the spring. Note to self, invest in more washing up liquid…

  40. As a first time dog owner I was not at all prepared for the havoc a small black labrador would bring to my home. In the first few months he destroyed 3 crate mats, a set of Jamie Oliver cookery books, a sat nav, a pair of glasses and a pair of RayBans, a kitchen cabinet, the rush seating on my dining room chairs, the bottom of the piano, a large number of tea towels and oven gloves, radiator knobs as well as pruning all the shrubs and rose bushes in the garden to ground level! Three years on and parts of my home still bear the battle scars and remind me of those early days – however it all seems insignificant compared to the joy Freddie brings me every day.

    • I dont know you – but you sound a very nice person with a lot of humour and love ! James is my third dog and I can understand you sooooo very well ! But we love them , dont we :-). Sometimes I did not know wether to laugh or to cry – but I always enjoy the company of this fury fellow.

  41. I actually hesitate to start a comment here as it might cause me to realise just how much my boys have cost me! Barney came to me as a rescue dog about 2 years old and, I was led to believe not a chewer. Having no clue as to how high an adult lab can reach I learned the hard way – 2 mobile phones, a sat nav, several pairs of shoes, coats (treat crumbs in pockets) hats, dog beds, and more. Rusty the puppy however seemed to be really good by this point I’d learned more and invested in a crate! He was a non chewing puppy so I thought until one day when he was 8 months old and I popped out for a few minutes and got delayed so he’d been left uncrated and munched his way through 2 leather kitchen bar stools. He also on another occasion managed to destroy the lid to my hot tub in minutes while I was in the garden but back turned! – £500 that cost alone! Ouch! Like the commenter above I was astounded at chewing through a flat surface – he started in the middle! I must admit that now I would consider a part trained lab for several thousand pounds a bargain!

  42. Freddie is our 1 year old lab and since having him at the age of 3m he has chewed 3 pairs of flip flops, 1 muck boot, a pair of really expensive 3d glasses, my hair straighteners, 6 oven knobs, 1 machine machine knob, some skirting board, 2 tea towels, 8 footballs and 6 rolls of toilet roll. Been an expensive year 🙂
    He has lots of chew toys, bones and is never on his own longer than 3 hours roughly and has about 3 walks a day. We love him though as such a character 🙂

  43. Paddy, now ten months, is on his 4th bed and 7th lead. He has chewed the kitchen table legs, four pads off the kitchen chairs, two floor mats and nibbled away at various pieces of skirting board. Paddy is our 4th labrador and we are unsurprised by this behaviour as the other three did the same sort of things, sometimes worse. what I wish to remind new owners is that a labrador puppy has no idea of the cost of a new bed, lead or anything else. He has no interest in money, except to eat the odd fiver or fifty pence coin left around. We shop for blankets and cushions in charity shops, it’s less painful! On the positive side, Paddy was housetrained within two days, comes to the whistle nine times out of ten, sits, lies down and gives unconditional love. We are now in our sixties and retired but he keeps us active and young in our outlook even when we feel totally exasperated. He will grown up sometime after his second birthday, the other three did. Most of all, Paddy has helped my husband deal with his cancer and mental breakdown and he is so much better than life before Paddy. We even went on holiday, hired a mobile home and drove to Cornwall in September and Paddy was a star. He didn’t chew anything and even when he was sick all over the settee in the van, it was the same colour as the upholstery! Enjoy your puppy/young dog, punishment is not the answer, love is.

    • Thanks for the encouragement! Our Hercules is just 1 year old and just turned his tastes toward our shoes for the first time. His last obsession was tearing the internet cable off the back of our house multiple times during the dead of winter.
      It doesn’t seem to matter how much we exercise him, he just needs to chew.

      • Good to hear other people have similar problems! Parker is 18 months old and despite the many kongs, bones, toys and copious bitter spray, has eaten (in no particular order):
        4 shoes, from 4 different pairs
        2 lamps
        1 armchair
        4 dog beds
        1 sander
        most of the post
        2 carpets
        3 books
        5 cushions
        and who know what else!

        I’m really looking forward to him reaching 2….

  44. We may just be lucky but the day we got our lovely little lab we stuck bitter spray on all the furniture and equally provided lots chew toys – nylabones, kongs, ropes and soft toys. She had a couple of licks of different bits of furniture, had the most hilarious look on her face as she stuck her tong out and went bleugh and pretty much since day two hasn’t had a go at anything but her toys and plants. She loves plants but mostly the dead bits so at least we don’t have to prune much!

    Maybe not a solution for existing chewers but hopefully if you can stop the habit before it forms then thats the best way.

  45. holly is 4 months old now and she really hasn’t chewed anything, but then she is rarely on her own. She comes to work with me and we have a crate for her there which she goes in during busy periods or if we get a delivery. I cannot express how wonderful crates are, she has slept in one from night one and has never whimpered to come out. Now I do think we have been lucky but she has chewed through a laptop cable when she was left for literally 5 minutes. We were so lucky she chewed through the top cable because if it had been the bottom section it would have more than likely killed her. So now she gets popped in her crate with a treat and then let out shortly afterwards. However the boot of the car hasn’t need so lucky we have bars up and she did chew these and underneath the boot liner and matts to get at the foam underlay we can’t say she isn’t dedicated! 🙂

  46. Right now 7 month old Miriam is setting about her favourite toy – a plastic (non brittle) bottle wrapped in a sock. This neatly goes in the bin when done. The basket of firewood provides endless pleasure, although it gets messy. These and several Kong toys seem to have diverted her away from the Piano, several chairs and a floorboard (I still cannot understand how a dog can burrow through a flat surface with teeth.)
    Citronella spray on the furniture certainly deterred her but the smell is a big price to pay.
    Oddly she rarely chews when we are out. Its mainly when she’s in a pesky mood. And then she seems to understand value – the peskier she is the more expensive the shoe.
    When she wants to walk or play she eats my insole, when she’s sleepy its someone else’s. Unfortunately both get rewarded – walks, or a mixture of adult yelling and children’s’ laughter.

    • My male black lab over the past year has started stealing food from the counter(even food that is pushed way back) tearing apart paper, eating crayons. He just turned 8 years old yesterday. Now that we restrict him to the bonus room, he does not do these things. He gets at least 3 long walks a day, I play frisbee with him and we all give him attention. Do you know why he would be doing this now?

      • Owen,

        Some dogs do this because they are uncomfortable and trying to get your attention by acting out. You should take him to the vet and get a work up done to make sure there are no underlying health issues he is trying to tell you about.

        Angie RVT \ soon to be DVM

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