Stop Dog Licking & Chewing

Ever come home to find your expensive new boots are now toeless? This probably sounds familiar if you’ve ever had a puppy. When those adult teeth first come in, they’re loose, and chewing on something hard helps set them in place and eases discomfort. This means that dogs do lots of chewing just when they have really sharp little teeth and you’re still training them not to mouth things or people.

Chewing can continue into adulthood. Psychological issues, such as separation anxiety, can cause destructive chewing. Some dogs are simply mouthy and enjoy chewing. And others chew when they’re bored.

Dogs can indulge in licking for any of the same behavioral reasons, leading to ruined furniture or–if the dog keeps licking the same spot on her body–skin problems.

Some products distract the dog

  • Chew toys are designed to distract your dog from chewing inappropriate items by giving her a toy of her own that’s safe and satisfying to chew.
  • Dental chew toys help clean your dog’s teeth as she chews. Rawhides are popular and can provide chewing satisfaction, but they carry a high risk of creating a choking hazard, and they’re high in fat and calories.

Some products deter the dog

Unfortunately, some dogs turn up their noses at those tasty chew toys and attack your Italian shoes or new dining room chairs instead (or in addition). Several brands of sprays are designed to stop chewing by covering the desired object with a bitter, unpleasant taste. Alas, some dogs don’t mind bitter sprays and will just keep on chewing. And once in a while you’ll find a dog who actually likes the stuff. Sad but true.

  • Some sprays are designed to use on objects and furniture. Check that the spray’s safe to use on whatever your dog’s chewing or licking. Some sprays can’t be used on upholstery or drapes, because they’ll destroy the fabric color. Test the spray first in an unseen corner.
  • Some sprays are designed to use right on the dog, to prevent her from licking her skin and causing dermatitis, hot spots, or delayed healing of an incision. These products can be sprayed on a bandage that covers the irritated patch.
  • Some sprays can be used on both your dog and on items such as furniture.


  • Before you buy a bitter spray, make sure it’s not toxic. It seems like the ultimate in “duh” logic, but you’d be surprised at how many manufacturers just don’t get it.

Complementary products

  • Crates will keep your dog contained while you’re away, protecting your sofa leg from being chewed to pieces or licked to a thin frazzle. Just make sure your dog gets plenty of time outside the crate.
  • Muzzles can prevent both licking and chewing, but they’re not a good choice for daily, long-term wear.