Boxers are highly intelligent dogs, very active both physically and mentally.
If a Boxer is engaging in destructive chewing behaviors, he is probably bored, anxious or (if it’s a puppy) teething.
To stop a Boxer chewing inappropriate things:
- Provide lots of exercise and mental stimulation
- Offer appealing alternatives to chew on
- Boxer-proof your home
- Gradually accustom your dog to being home alone
This will go a long way towards eliminating the underlying causes of the behavior, rather than just punishing your dog for doing what comes naturally.
Don’t Punish Your Boxer For Chewing
Punishing your dog for disemboweling the sofa a) will not work b) is not fair because what he’s done is essentially not his fault, and c) will confuse your Boxer and increase his anxiety and frustration, making chewing even more likely.
Chewing And Intestinal Blockage
Chewing random objects is more than annoying for the owner.
It can be downright dangerous for your Boxer.
If chewing doors or furniture, a dog can absorb toxic chemicals in paint and varnishes through the mucous membranes in his mouth.
If swallowed, socks, rope and other foreign bodies can and do cause life-threatening obstructions that may require risky emergency surgery to remove. Dogs don’t always survive those operations.
Destructive chewing it’s a problem you need to fix, as soon as possible. (Prevention is even better, and a lot easier.)
Why Does A Boxer Engage In Destructive Chewing?
It’s important to understand that chewing on your best pair of shoes or the leg of your brand new sofa is not your dog just “being naughty” or “acting Boxer crazy”. Your Boxer is not punishing you for leaving him home alone.
Destructive chewing is not inevitable, or normal. And it’s entirely within the owner’s power to fix.
These behaviors are symptoms of an underlying problem.
They are your dog’s effort to get his needs met, whether those needs are relief of boredom or self-soothing of distress at being left on his own for long periods without having been eased into the routine, or without any outlet for his energy and frustration. Chewing is your dog’s coping strategy.
In The Everything Boxer Book, breeder and trainer Karla Spitzer hits the nail on the head when she says:
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned through my experience with Boxers it’s that they need a job. If you don’t give them one, they will make one up for themselves and chances are you won’t like it.”
Does your Boxer have a job? Or has he appointed himself Chewer-In-Chief?
A tired dog is a well-behaved dog.
Boxers are an athletic breed and they need ample opportunities to leap and run and chase and catch.
A walk around the block a few times a week will not suffice.
A long walk or romp in the morning and another one at night is a fitting daily routine for a Boxer, with playtimes in between.
Boxers have keen noses and love the chance to read the daily pee-mail around the neighborhood, and to explore new scents in new places.
Ever read The Diggingest Dog, a classic children’s book by Al Perkins? Well, Boxers would have to be the sniffingest dogs. Sniffing engages a dog’s natural instincts and is engrossing, and relaxing, for a dog.
Boxers get bored easily and will benefit enormously from variation in their activities. Mix up the route you take for your walks and go on more exciting excursions to different locations a few times a week
Off leash walks on a beach represent just about a perfect outing for a Boxer. With plenty of sniffing, running, digging, swimming, playing with shells and a little interaction with other dogs, this kind of experience offers all kinds of stimulation.
After this type of fun, a Boxer will happily snooze the day away without getting up to any mischief.
Every Boxer owner knows this breed is much more than the class clown.
Boxers are playful and have great senses of humor but they’re also thinkers and need to have their minds engaged and challenged.
Canine enrichment games and toys like puzzles are great for Boxers, as are tricks and training of all kinds. Boxers love to learn, and do so quickly.
Snuffle mats are fantastic for Boxers.
Good Chews For Boxer Dogs: Toys Don’t Cut It
Chewing is normal — and necessary — dog behavior. Stopping it should not be the goal. Redirecting it is the name of the game.
Just buying a bunch of toys will not stop your dog chewing other things.
Toys are appealing when someone’s on the other end of them, but if a dog is feeling bored or anxious, they don’t offer much comfort.
Try these enticing chews instead:
- raw meaty bones (nutritional and teeth-cleaning benefits as well as psychological satisfaction)
- bully sticks (aka beef penis. Find ones that are made by drying and free of additives and preservatives)
Things A Boxer Should Never Chew
- raw hide (indigestible product of the leather industry, prepared with toxic chemicals including bleach, dyes and glues and can cause choking and blockages)
- pig ears (as above and have been affected by salmonella contaminations)
- antlers (too hard and can crack teeth)
- dental chews (highly processed and contain preservatives and extraneous ingredients)
Boxer-Proof Your Home
When your dog is still learning, it’s important to control his environment so that you remove opportunities to rehearse the unwanted behavior.
If you were trying to teach your Boxer puppy not to get on the couch, when you went out you would stack chairs upside down on the sofa so it was an entirely unappealing and slightly scary thing to climb up on. By the time your puppy grows up a bit, and gets used to the couch, staying off it has become a habit. So much so that you’ll probably hardly be able to get him to go up there even when invited. Habit is powerful.
When it comes to training your dog not to chew random things, apply the same principle. Remove those things so he simply cannot chew them.
Instead of leaving shoes at the door, put them away in the cupboard. Keep the floor clear. Push objects at the back of benches, out of reach. Leave coffee tables bare. Get a self-closing trash can so there’s no option to rummage in the garbage.
If you have to, use baby gates and pens to fence off the furniture and confine your dog to a certain area when you’re out — an area that is clear of chewable objects, and safe.
It won’t always have to be this way. Just until your dog learns the rules. It is infinitely easier to prevent chewing in the first place than to retrain an entrenched behavior.
Once your dog gets it, you can gradually start to put things back where they’d ordinarily be, at first only while you’re home and can supervise. Eventually you’ll be able to leave everything wherever without any risk your dog will chew it.
Ease Your Boxer In To Being Home Alone
Most destructive chewing happens when dogs are left alone without properly preparing them to handle the experience.
Don’t bring your dog home on a Saturday and then on Monday suddenly leave for a full work day.
Build up to it slowly so it’s not a shock for your dog.
- First, go out for just a few minutes. Then, increase it to 15 minutes. Establish a predictable routine.
- Always exercise your dog and give him a toilet break before leaving him alone, so he’s ready to rest.
- Leave your Boxer with something to do while you’re out (a safe chew or a snuffle mat is perfect).
- Make sure your departures and arrivals are low key, so that he gets to know your comings and goings are no big deal.
- Consider a remote camera so you can see what your dog does when you leave. Most cameras have a function that allows you to talk to your dog through the camera, so you can interrupt undesirable behaviors with an “Uh uh” or a “No”.
If you follow these steps your Boxer will quickly relax, realizing you’ll always be back.
Why Boxer Puppies Chew On Things: Teething
If a Boxer puppy is chewing, it’s likely because he’s teething and is trying to soothe sore and itchy gums.
Boxers begin to lose their 28 baby teeth around four months of age. They’re replaced by 42 permanent adult teeth. The rear molars start to erupt through the gums at about six months old.
Pushing out new teeth hurts! Boxer puppies chew to relieve the pain. It is an irrepressible need.
Raw meaty bones will be received with gusto by teething Boxer puppies.
Final Thoughts On Destructive Chewing In Boxers
With a multi-pronged strategy involving exercise, mental stimulation, the provision of alternative chews like raw meaty bones, a dog-proofed home and a gentle phase-in of being home alone, destructive chewing will become a thing of the past.
A happy, well-adjusted Boxer will leave the furniture alone, chew on his bully stick for a while and then probably fall fast asleep until he hears your key in the door.