Poodles are a naturally rambunctious breed, full of curiosity and pep. But when they go from cute and cuddly to off the wall and destructive, it can be frustrating (to say the least). Though it may feel like an impossible task to figure out why poodles chew furniture and how to prevent it, the solution is simple if you just take a closer look.
So, why do poodles chew furniture, and how can you prevent it? Chewing furniture often expresses nervousness and anxiety and is relatively common in high-energy dogs like Poodles. Poodles are highly dependant dogs who look to their owners for close companionship. To prevent chewing, you’ll need to combat the anxiety with proper training, exercise, and distractions such as chew toys.
This article will discuss the ins and outs of poodle behavior, why they chew your furniture, and what you can do to deter them from destructive habits.
Poodle Puppies and Furniture Chewing
Puppies of all breeds enjoy chewing, and it’s no different for poodle puppies. Poodle puppies will chew just about anything they can get their mouths on. This is not only caused by their breed’s natural inclination towards curiosity but also because puppies are simply new to the world and are still trying to figure things out. Poodle puppies chew to answer a range of questions:
- Whether something is alive or inanimate
- if it is pleasurable to chew on
- or even if it can be chewed on
Because of their need to learn as they grow (and we’ve established that puppies learn with their mouths), it’s a top priority to puppy proof your home, including your furniture.
Poodles are most susceptible to excessive chewing within the first year of their life, so to avoid any toothmarks on your coffee table or loose thread on your couch, you should be vigilant in using preventative products such as bitter sprays and lots of distracting toys for teething puppies.
A great behavioral training course can really help when training your dog to stop chewing. I found a fantastic training system called Brain Training for Dogs. I really liked the private member’s area where I was able to connect with other dog owners to get solutions to issues I had with his training. If you need any behavioral training at all for your dog, I would highly recommend this course! Check it out here
Teething Toys Can Help Prevent Furniture Chewing
Much like when a child is teething, a teething poodle feels significant discomfort and must be allowed to chew whenever they feel the urge to relieve the pain. The height of teething for poodles occurs between 4 and 8 months old, though it may extend a bit past eight months if your puppy is a late bloomer.
Not just any toy will do for a teething poodle. If the toys you give them aren’t providing enough stimulation or relief for their gums, they could turn back to your furniture legs.
Here are a few characteristics of good teething toys for puppies found on Amazon:
- The toy fits true to your poodle’s size. A toy that is too big for your puppy to get a good grip on will inevitably lose your pup’s interest and won’t relieve much — if any — mouth discomfort. The KONG Natural Teething Rubber is wonderful for soothing gums and comes in 4 sizes for the perfect fit.
- There are multiple surfaces with various textures. For example, a great toy is one with a knobby rubber end, another area that has a rope for a change in texture, and a hard plastic end for a tougher chewing spot. The HOUNDGAMES Puppy Toy Mat is a great example of this!
- The toy is responsive to chewing. Whether a toy squeaks, oinks, rattles, crackles, or twists, an interactive toy is a toy that will continuously pique your poodle’s interest. KOL’s Dog Plush Toy squeaks, crinkles, and has a rope to soothe your puppy’s teeth as they chew.
- It’s rewarding. For older poodle puppies whose teeth are a bit more grown-in, a toy that releases a treat is rewarding and distracting. KONG’s Puppy Goodie Bone is durable, perfect for teething puppies, and releases a treat!
Take care not to purchase really “cheap” toys that may pose a choking hazard to your puppy or quickly fall apart.
How to Inspire Furniture-Friendly Chewing
You can lead a poodle to toys, but you can’t make him chew – unless you have these tips to encourage him:
- If your poodle is still interested in your furniture, despite providing them with an abundance of toys, try implementing a trade after you scold with a stern, “No.” Whenever they begin chewing on your furniture, tell them no and then offer a toy to chew on instead. When they chew the toy, praise them with a treat and approving tone.
- New objects always interest puppies. If you keep two groups of toys and switch them out every week, your poodle will be ecstatic to have “new” toys to chew on and won’t even think twice about chewing your furniture.
- Chew toys should have a positive association — always. So if your poodle puppy is reluctant to play with their new toys, don’t get frustrated. Instead, play little games that encourage them. One way to play is by obviously hiding a toy (so your puppy can see where it’s hidden) and coaxing them to find it. Once it’s found, praise them with a reassuring tone to excite them.
- If furniture chewing is an ongoing issue, despite measures taken to prevent it, you can resort to using the bitter spray (link to Amazon), as we mentioned earlier. The sour taste will train your poodle not to want to bite the object any longer, and they’ll eventually lose interest. Be sure that you’re purchasing a dog-safe bitter spray from a reputable source, like a pet store.
After the first year, puppies generally grow out of playful chewing and should avoid your furniture. If you’re dealing with an adult poodle with chewing problems, that’s another story and a different set of training techniques.
Pent-Up Energy in Adult Poodles and Furniture Chewing
It’s no secret that poodles are highly energetic, and if they’re not getting enough exercise, this pent-up energy could turn into furniture-chewing. Poodles require a 20-60 minute walk a day depending on if they’re a Standard, Toy, or Mini poodle.
As a general rule, these walking guidelines should be followed for healthy poodles between the ages of 1 and 7:
- Standard Poodles should get a 40 to 60-minute walk each day, preferably in the morning before work (or half before work and half afterward), around 2.5 miles.
- Miniature Poodles should get a 30 to 40-minute walk per day in the morning, preferably; around 1.5 miles.
- Toy Poodles should get a 20 to 25-minute walk a day (morning is best), between .5 and 1 mile.
While seniors are generally slower and less energetic than a puppy and young poodles, they can still develop chewing habits or turn back to old habits of their youth if not adequately exercised.
Generally, for senior poodles, you should:
- Continue your walks with your senior poodle. However, keep them short, around 15 minutes or less, depending on their abilities. Watch for signs of struggle or tiring and discontinue the walk if need be.
- Walk your senior poodle on soft surfaces. This is easier on their joints and more comfortable overall for an aging dog.
- Engage in water exercise when possible. Swimming takes all of the pressure off of your senior’s muscles and joints and is excellent for poodles with arthritis — plus, it’s fun! Some cities have hydrotherapy centers that you can take your dog to, or you can utilize your swimming pool. Just be sure to observe your poodle to prevent accidental drowning.
Remember that senior poodles are not as spry as they used to be. Never push your senior dog past their limits, as this could result in adverse effects to their naturally declining health. Adjust your exercise plan according to your dog’s abilities and discontinue an exercise if you notice a struggle. Poodles with arthritis, limited hearing, or dimmed eyesight should be exercised with caution and treated differently than a healthier senior poodle.
Overall, keeping your poodle properly exercised will tire them out and prevent them from taking their energy out on your chair legs.
Adult Poodles and Anxious Furniture-Chewing
If your adult poodle is chewing your furniture while you’re out shopping or away from home, don’t cross it off as bad behavior just yet. Poodles that chew up furniture while their owners are away are likely doing so to relieve the stress of being alone. Chewing is an expression of nervousness and anxiety and is common in dogs like poodles.
Aside from utilizing lots of interactive toys (especially toys that release treats), and bitter anti-chew spray, you’ll need to combat separation anxiety directly to limit or prevent chewing completely.
Separation Anxiety and Furniture Chewing
Separation anxiety is a deeply-rooted emotional issue that can show up in a poodle of any age. It can occur whenever your dog is left alone from as little as an hour to as long as 10 hours and may develop later in life because senior dogs require more specialized care.
Separation anxiety wasn’t always common in dogs, but it has been developing more rapidly in recent years since owners are gone from home more often, and dogs are left alone for increasing periods.
As a brief overview, dogs have worked alongside people for thousands of years, and poodles, specifically, worked as tracking and hunting dogs, continually relying on their master for commands and partnership. The quick transition of society in the last few generations (compared to the dogs’ long history) has taken a noticeable toll on the emotional wellbeing of dogs.
When once a dog could find comfort in daily chores and walks with their owner, then later in their loving housewife companion. Today, because both man and wife are leaving home for work, they can no longer have that constant human interaction that they have grown accustomed to over the centuries.
With that understanding in mind, you can determine that your poodle has separation anxiety if they show one or more of the following symptoms:
- Unrelenting barking
- Furniture chewing or other destructive behavior
- Crying, yelping, or screaming when you walk out the door
- Nervous or frantic behavior as the owner is preparing to leave the home
- Potty accidents in the home that are rare when the owner is present
Separation anxiety can also cause depression in your poodle, in more severe cases. While separation anxiety can be helped at home, if you notice extreme emotions in your poodle, it may be time to call a vet.
Signs of depression in dogs include:
- Appetite changes. Poodles that are depressed may eat less or indulge in food for comfort leading to rapid weight loss or gain.
- Paw licking. A nervous habit, you may notice that your poodle is licking their paws too much. This licking could even lead to chewing and self-injury.
- Oversleeping. Similar to depression in people, dog depression can cause your poodle to sleep too much.
- Avoidance and sudden loss of interest. If your dog begins to avoid you or the things that usually excite them, this could be a sign of depression.
Be aware that signs of depression in dogs could also be hinting to an underlying illness or bodily pain.
Easing Anxieties and Fears
There are many ways to help your poodle feel more at ease when you’re not home.
A poodle one year and older can be left at home for around 8 or 9 hours before they need to be let out to go potty. However, a poodle that is in distress may have potty and furniture chewing accidents until they become adjusted to their new normal. Because this is a possibility, you need to make sure that you have the proper environment set up for maximum comfort and cleanliness.
The best way to prevent your poodle from taking its stress out on your furniture or creating accidents around the house is to set up a familiar area of the home (with hardwood or vinyl flooring — any flooring that’s pet-friendly) with a doggy gate. This will block your dog off from other areas of the house and provide easy cleanup, if necessary. Keep in mind that it’s never a good idea to cage a dog for long hours, as this will only make the stress unbearable.
Consider placing potty pads on the floor if your poodle needs to use the bathroom. Place a dog bed or comfy cage inside the fenced-off room, along with some of your poodle’s favorite interactive toys. Food and water should also be readily available, especially if you’ll be out during mealtime.
Here are a few other things to implement into your routine to keep your dog comfortable when you’re gone:
- Leave the lights on. Whenever you’re home, the lights are usually on, the rooms are bustling, and your dog feels calm. Leaving a light or two on in the room where you confine your poodle will help them feel relaxed.
- Add some background noise. Leaving the television on a channel that your dog is used to listening to will create background noise. Silence can be deafening for poodles. You can also leave a radio station on; however, we recommend that you find a talk station like a podcast rather than music.
- If possible, place your poodle next to a window. Some poodles love being able to look outside and watch the world go by. Seeing a squirrel hop on the grass or a biker ride past the window can take your dog’s mind off of being alone.
Remember that these recommendations should be tested out before you leave your dog alone with them. Some TV channels and the sounds that come from them (such as Animal Planet) can startle your poodle. This can also happen with radio stations and windows with too much activity outside of them.
Kenneling for Short Trips
Regardless of if your dog has separation anxiety or not, it’s perfectly acceptable to kennel them in an appropriately-sized cage for a short period. Before you decide to crate your poodle when leaving the house, be sure that you’ve practiced getting them used to it. A crate should be a positive place, not a fearful one.
If you plan on only being gone an hour or two, there are ways to make your poodle feel secure in their crate until you’re back home:
- Add their favorite toy. Giving your poodle something to do while you’re gone can help them to release any energy or tension that they have. A toy that provides mental stimulation, like a treat toy, will help to pass the time.
- Give them something that smells like you. Your scent is a comfort to your poodle, so providing them with an old shirt or jacket can be a peaceful solution.
- Make it comfy. Layer blankets or place a dog bed inside the crate to make it cozy. This will encourage your poodle to sleep rather than wait up for you.
- Place a blanket over half of the crate. This will provide a sense of comfort and safety to your poodle and prevent any moving objects outside from spooking or distracting them.
Crate training should begin as a puppy. Simply throwing your grown poodle in a cage without introducing them to it first will only result in fear and a negative association with their crate.
The goal of kenneling your poodle while you’re away is to give them a cozy space to rest until you return. Avoid leaving your poodle in a crate for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time. A dog should not be crated during the workday.
Remember to take your dog out to potty before kenneling them to make them comfortable and avoid any accidents. Leave your home without a fuss and without saying a word to your dog. This alerts them that you’ll be back soon and that they shouldn’t expect a long wait.
If Kenneling Isn’t Your Cup of Tea
Crates aren’t for every pet parent, and some poodles are more trustworthy than others. Another great way to ensure that your dog is occupied and not seeking out delicious furniture to destroy, you may want to invest in a doggy camera.
Cameras, like the Furbo Dog Camera found on Amazon, can give you instant video access to your poodle at home and even allow you to talk to them and throw them yummy treats!
What to Do Before You Leave for Long Hours
All of us have made the mistake of making a huge fuss out of leaving the house without our dogs. We kiss and hug, pat and play, and make smooching noises as we walk out of the door to show our great love four our pets. However, this isn’t how your poodle perceives it. When you leave in what you think is a loving manner, your dog processes your leaving as being a big event — as if you don’t know when you’ll be back.
You may even notice that when you act that way as you begin to leave, your dog begins panicking, whining, or pacing near the door. The best way to prevent your poodle from freaking out as you leave for the day is to get into the habit of walking out the door the same way you would as if you were going to be walking right back in a minute later — without a big, heartfelt scene.
That’s not to say you can’t interact lovingly with your dog at all before you leave, just not right as you’re leaving.
- An hour to 45 minutes before you leave, you can hug and play with your poodle as much as you’d like.
- Prepare for the day by setting up their food and water dish, their safe area, and comfort items (television, lights, toys, bedding, potty pads, etc.).
- Twenty or so minutes before you leave, take your poodle out one last time to use the bathroom.
- Quietly place your poodle in the enclosure.
- Finish gathering your things for the workday or outing as if nothing significant is about to happen.
- Avoid placing the enclosure near the door, but if your poodle can see you leave, distract them by throwing a toy behind them. Do this quietly and without excitement.
- Go out the door without a word. Saying anything before you walk out could teach your dog to be afraid of that word or sentence and trigger anxiety.
If at all possible, you can also have someone stop by once during the day to check up on your poodle or come in during the evening to perform nighttime duties if you’re having a late night. Dog sitters are also a viable option if you’re gone for a long time during the week because of work. Most professional dog sitters will do this for around $20 an hour. Local teens or relatives may do it for less.
Leaving Your Poodle Alone Overnight
While it’s never a good idea for an owner to be away from their dog for longer than a workday, sometimes it’s inevitable because of emergencies, work trips, or any other number of things. If you’re forced to leave your poodle at home for more than 9 hours, consider having someone you trust to spend the night and watch over your pet.
If a family member or friend isn’t available for overnight stay and dog sitting the following day, or if you can’t afford the average $75 to $85 an hour fee for a professional dog sitter, it’s a good idea to take your dog to a dog hotel. Avoid putting your dog in a local kennel, as being placed in a compact, stressful situation with strange dogs and people will only make their anxieties worse. Dogs can also contract kennel cough and other illnesses if not yet vaccinated.
Never leave your poodle without access to someone who can feed them, water them, or let them outside to relieve themselves. Leaving your poodle all by itself for more than 10 hours is neglect. It will also stress your poodle out to the max and result in potty messes and potentially damage to your home, knocked over gates, spilled food and water bowls, destroyed toys, and so forth.
Whether you have a poodle puppy or an adult, finding the solution to furniture chewing can seem like a nearly unreachable goal. But with a few tweaks to your daily routine and committed, repetitive training, you can combat the root causes of chewing furniture such as pent-up energy and separation anxiety.
Breaking a poodle’s chewing habit will possibly take many months before you see noticeable changes. However, the result is confidence in your dog’s ability to stay home alone and a feeling of comfort for your dog whenever they are alone and awaiting your return.