HELP! My American Bulldog is chewing up my sofa

Posted by linda-savi
Jun 6, 2013
Hi. My purchasing "Secrets to dog training" could not have come at a better time and glad in finding this forum. We have an 11 month old American Bulldog that my husband adopted for me (at 3 mos old) for security reasons. He is a wonderful dog. I leave him loose around the house with my other two female Westies (13 and 8 ) when I step out to do my errands. When I return, Rambo chews off sections of my sofa. He also has been chewing on my door mat. We try to pick up or put away everything we think he might chew (shoes, papers, plants etc). We do have a crate for him but we thought he would just lay around like my other two dogs do while out. I hate to crate him again but would that be my best solution? Is it because he's still a puppy or anxiety? I was planning on getting new furniture before we got him but not until this problem is solved. HELP!
Posted by Preethi KOP
Jun 8, 2013
Hi Linda,

Welcome to Kingdom of Pets and congratulations on your new pet.

Chewing is a natural behavior in dogs and for adults it's important for dental health. Your pooch is at the age where he is teething. And he is probably chewing to help relieve the discomfort. Has he ever chewed on stuff when you were home? If he has, then you needn't worry about separation anxiety.

You could try out the following to stop this habit-

- Give him lots of suitable chew toys. Make sure they are safe for him.Do not ever give him your old belongings to chew on- he will go by scent and won't be able to differentiate an old rug from a new one.
- Cycle through these toys so that he isn't bored with them.
-If you ever catch him in the act, give me a stern "NO" or a guttural growl,followed by "drop". Then,place his chew toy in front of him and praise him when he picks it up!
-Ensure he is getting plenty of mental and physical stimulation. A good dose of exercise before you leave your home should keep him out of mischief.
- As for the sofa he loves, try coating it with something bad-tasting (look into commercial pet repellents, aloe vera gel etc.).

It may take some time for this to stop, be patient and persistent. If you think it isn't just his teething and is separation anxiety related, please do write back and we shall work on it from a different angle.

Good luck!

Posted by linda-savi
Jun 8, 2013
Hi again. Thank you so much for your response. I, at first thought the same as you.....teething. Now I think it's separation anxiety and it may have been my fault. When we first got him, we started the crate training. Then the cries at night started and we allowed him to sleep in bed with us along with our 2 Westies. I know....shame shame shame. Now he is 80 lbs and taking too much space in our bed even though its king size. LOL! So we get him off the bed and tell him to go in his crate. He does and goes to sleep. After an hour or so he starts to cry again. So back in bed again. When we do step out, they all just hang around the living room waiting for our return. He isn't neutered yet but I think it's time. As for the sofa, we did spray it with "bitter yuck" spray. Didn't work. I even left one of my t'shirts on the floor so he can have my scent. As for his chewing, we never catch him in the act because he follows us every where we go. We are in the family room and kitchen most of the time. Our entry door is in our living room and that's where they stay and wait. So any more of your help would be grateful.

Thank you
Posted by Preethi KOP
Jun 11, 2013
Hi Linda,

Thanks for your response.

I am glad you realise that allowing him back in bed is exacerbating the problem. Yes, I would definitely recommend neutering him.

As for the separation anxiety, in addition my previous recommendations, you could try these:

-Having the radio/stereo on when you leave home.
-Not making your return home a 'big deal', take your time saying hello to him. Do things on your terms, not his.
- Instead of telling him off for being naughty, put him away in a quiet room as punishment. For some dogs, any attention is good, so even telling them off can reinforce negative behaviours like this one.

Hope these help. Please do keep us posted.

Kind regards,