Golden Retriever training would be incomplete without addressing the matter of chewing. Let’s start with the facts: all dogs chew. Golden Retrievers, as the name implies, are particularly adept at using their mouths — whether for retrieving, or for chewing on your favorite pair of shoes.
Goldens need to chew, so you don’t want to stop the behavior altogether, just redirect it. Puppies in particular will chew on most anything. With that said, first things first: it’s your responsibility as a loving pet owner to make your dog’s environment as “dog-friendly” as possible. That means keeping valuables (as in, anything you’d rather not have destroyed) out of your Golden Retriever’s reach. To replace the off limit items, be sure your pet has plenty of chew toys available.
Some people have used hot pepper or other commercially available spray deterrent to keep their pet from chewing. In my experience these are used with varying degrees of success, and rarely as a permanent solution. Consult your veterinarian and/or local pet store for possible solutions if you’d like to explore this option in more depth.
If and when you do catch your Golden chewing on something he shouldn’t be, it’s recommended to get the dog’s attention by making a loud noise. Then, immediately redirect the dog’s attention to one of his chew toys. Be sure to actually engage the dog with the toy, and praise him for this activity. The idea is to reinforce the notion that playing with the chew toy has rewarding consequences.
To reduce incidents of unwanted chewing, be sure your dog gets plenty of attention and exercise. Golden Retriever’s are sporting dogs, after all, and need daily exercise. And the attention of their owner is something that every Golden craves. Boredom, separation anxiety, and a lack of exercise are all things that can contribute to a chewing problem.
Michael S. Dugan is a Golden Retriever owner and enthusiast.