Carpet chewing is a common issue for dog owners and one I just started having. After moving into a new apartment my Shiba Inu started chewing and scratching the carpet when I wasn’t looking or when she was left out while I was at the store. Fearing this would balloon into a larger issue I started looking into how other people were able to get their dogs to stop chewing on their carpet. Here is what I learned.
Shiba Inus instinctively chew on objects for one of four reasons: teething, to clean their teeth, out of boredom, or to relieve built-up stress and anxiety. The most effective way to stop carpet chewing is to redirect your dog’s focus onto something you want them to chew, such as a bone or chew toy.
This kind of habit can pop up at any time or age seemingly out of nowhere, and if left unchecked can become expensive and a major health risk for your pet.
How to remedy your dog’s destructive habit
Once you notice your dog has taken a liking to rip up carpet, or any furniture for that matter, you have one and only one way to combat it. That is catching them in the act and correcting them on the spot.
Dogs don’t remember things the way people do, they can only process things based on association. For example: if you put your shoes on when you go to take them for a walk when they see you putting your shoes on they will get excited and try to follow you outside.
You have a short window of time to help your pet draw the line from what they are doing to what you would prefer for them to do. In this case, it would be leaving your carpet alone. So you will want to follow these steps.
- Get their attention – To do that you need to catch them in the act, so keep an eye out. Whenever you notice them going for the carpet you want to break their train of thought and get their attention, a firm “No!” generally works best.
- Redirect their focus – Once you have their attention and hand them a toy, it’s better they chew on their toys instead of the furniture. Your goal here is to redirect their energy and focus.
- Encourage a different behavior – When they take the toy and start playing with it, praise them. Dogs see praise as a reward and will be more likely to go for the toy in the future.
- Repeat until satisfied – You will have to repeat these steps whenever you catch your dog in the act. Consistency is the key to success here. If you really want to get your dog to stop eating your carpet you will have to redirect their attention each and every time you find them doing so.
Do not actively punish your Shiba while you are following this process. Hitting, yelling, or generally being aggressive with your pet may actively make things worse or cause them to lose trust in you. Once a Shiba loses trust in their owner is it very very difficult to gain it back.
Breaking a bad habit can be frustrating and will take some time but will be well worth the effort. Something that can help you deal with your Shiba Inu’s destructive behavior is to understand what is causing them to go for the carpet instead of any of the toys you got them.
Identify the root cause of the bad habit
Almost everything your pet does has a cause or motivation behind it. When my Shiba Inu started teething she started going after wood furniture and would start screaming whenever I was separated from her. Teething and separation anxiety were the spark that started those two bad habits. But there could be several different reasons your dog starts going something.
Teething – Thankfully this only happens once in a dog’s life but usually lasts several months, until the puppy is around 6 months old. This is completely healthy and natural but can lead to some very frustrating and expensive situations if left unchecked.
Many pieces of furniture or places on your carpet could become a victim to this force of nature but do your best not to get frustrated or aggressive with your pup, they are only chewing things because they are in a lot of pain.
Try leaving them in a dedicated enclosed area with teething safe toys or be sure to keep a very close eye on them, the last thing you want them to do is eat bits of wood or carpet and end up with a medical emergency.
Boredom – Shiba Inu are well known for their high levels of energy and their need for mental stimulation, resulting in them being bored quite often.
Regular walks, playtime, and socializing are fantastic ways to help your pet burn off their excess energy and help them relax around the house. If you find your pet becomes destructive while you are away from home they may either be bored since you aren’t around to entertain them or they may have some anxiety being left all alone.
Leaving them in a dedicated place or in their crate would help limit any potential damage to your property while you work with them on it.
Separation anxiety – Any pet can get separation anxiety, and Shiba Inus are no exception. They may be fairly independent dogs but they still love and want their owner’s attention. Leave your Shiba in their crate with a video or music playing in the background can help calm their nerves.
To clean their teeth – The least common cause on the list but easily the most important. If you find your pet constantly chewing on soft things, such as carpet, curtains, or pillows, they may have some oral discomfort. If you notice this becoming a habit you should contact your vet to get their professional opinion.
Understanding the root cause, or motivation, that is driving your dog to rip up carpet will make your job managing it much easier to handle. Although creating or sectioning your dog in a specific part of the house sounds like a cheap way to “resolve” the issue it isn’t a bad way to start getting things under control.
Just do your best to not use your dog’s creation or space as a punishment, the last thing you want them to think is that they are in trouble. That may actually lead to things getting worse or them doing their best to keep their distance from you.
Your dog could start this habit at any age or time
Bad habits can rear their ugly head at any time, place, or age. Just use me and my Shiba Inu, Faith, as an example.
She started chewing on wood furniture immediately after getting her and over time I was able to break that habit, but she never bothered to go after our carpet. Flash forward to when she’s a little over a year and a half old and I move into an apartment with her. After two weeks she starts going for the carpet in front of our fireplace and around the master bedroom door.
She was over a year old and never had the habit before, but she tried it and stuck with it until I slowly worked her out of it.
Why a deterring spray may not be right for you
Deterring pet sprays are amazing if they work for you and your pet, but they, unfortunately, don’t work for everybody.
While the goal of the product is to smell and taste bad to discourage your pet from chewing or generally messing with what you sprayed, some dogs are either unaffected or even like the taste.