How I Stopped Gwen the Destroyer From Chewing Her Dog Bed

From left to right: Evelyn, Gwen the Destroyer, Dino, and Dojo.

In her spare time, when she’s not posing innocently for pictures, Gwen the Destroyer eats dog beds for breakfast. She may not look like much, but that little white dog is a tough one.

And she is the inspiration for this story..

Once Upon a Time…

I’ve owned dogs (or dogs have owned me?) all my life, and I must have purchased hundreds of dog beds.

Some wear out, some are not worth moving with, and some get destroyed. This guide is for people with that last issue.

If you’ve ever purchased a new dog bed because the old one got chewed up and spit out by your very-own furry terrorist, then this guide is for you.

But first let me tell you about the inspiration for this guide. Her name is Gwen, and she is a little terror-dog. In fact, I think that’s where Terriers get their name from…or maybe not.

She is all of 14lbs soaking wet, and yet, she kicks Dojo -my 100lbs German Shepard- out of his bed and assumes control over all of which she surveys. Poor Dojo has to sleep on the little-dog bed.

Here she is, keeping me company late at night, pretending like she’s all cute and innocent.

To truly get the sense of destruction this little bundle is capable of, check out this picture.

One day, Dojo and I came home to find this in the aftermath of Gwen being left alone for about 45 minutes. Notice the bewildered look Dojo is giving Gwen (off camera). As if to say “whut did ya do, yoo crazy lil dog”.

Forgive Dojo, he’s a dog so his spelling leaves something to be desired.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes Gwen the Destroyer allows Dojo to sleep on her bed. But only on those cold, Arizona nights, when Gwen needs a warm body to snuggle up to.

So after many, many, MANY, destroyed beds -both dog, and human- I decided never to buy another dog bed. Why bother, it only gets destroyed.

Unless it’s Free

Or at least 50% Off…

And then my friend, Jennifer Medeiros, who is a Social Media Manager for Nature Sleep, the mattress company, asked me if I would like a free dog bed. Ahhh…WOULD I!?!?

Nice thing about being a blogger is that every once in a while, company will offer you free stuff. In exchange for free stuff, they hope you’ll write favorably about them and their product.

The best social media campaigns are usually creative and take a holistic view of the process. And of course, Jennifer, being a pro that she is, figured dog beds and human beds are close enough to be fun, and gave away like 50 of these. I was a lucky recipient of one of these dog beds.

Nature Sleep also gave me a 50% Off code for anyone interested in buying anything on their site. Human beds, dog beds, or anything else they got there. The Code is BEARS50 and you can use it directly on their site or find out more by Liking Nature Sleep on Facebook.

That New Dog (Bed) Smell

The dog bed Jennifer sent is AWESOME. It’s giant, it feels great to the touch, and I wouldn’t mind sleeping in it myself.

Here’s a video of Dojo getting to know his new Nature’s Sleep dog bed.

So, HOW do I protect this dog bed from Gwen the Destroyer? That is the hundred dollar question.

I’ve done some research, and instead of trying to come up with a million and one way of preventing dog-bed destruction, I’ve decided to roll up all the techniques into an overall strategy.

Before I share my strategy, keep in mind that not all techniques are meant for you and your dog, and your situation. The best technique is the one that works for you as a human, is effective on your dog, and works in your unique situation.

Also, NEVER GIVE UP on your dog. The idea is to keep searching for a solution until you find one that works for human, dog, and situation.

With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s check out some techniques you might want to try.

Dog Bed Preservation Strategy

Dogs usually behave “badly” because they’re under-exercised, bored, and/or stressed.

I will share my strategy with you, the exact implementation of which will be left up to you to find what works best.

Exercise

I think that 80% of all issues with dogs can be fixed if only you could leave them in a state of utter exhaustion when you leave the house.

If a dog is happy to get some “me” time away from his human it means the dog has been exercised enough. Give yourself a gold star in dog ownership.

How you accomplish this is entirely up to you. My favorite ways are:

  • When we’re on the east coast, Dojo and I like going for a hike on the Appalachian Trail
  • A nice, long walk around the neighborhood is also a good choice
  • Bike runs (Dojo is sometimes too high-energy for an ordinary walk, so we go biking)
  • A game of fetch in a large, open area

At the end of the exercise, the dog should be happy to be left alone for a while to doze and recuperate.

Here is Dojo after a vigorous game of fetch:

Entertain

Of course, it’s hard for humans to spend that kinda time exercising the dog, so let’s try making sure they don’t get bored while you’re away.

I usually fill their toys with treats and make it really hard for them to get the treats out. This keeps ‘em busy for hours.

Assuming the dog has been exercised and entertained (toys stuffed with treats), the next thing you might want to try is working with their natural proclivities.

Redirect

If a dog likes to chew the bed, give them a bed to chew.

Just make sure you remove the real dog bed from the equation all together. An old, cheap, raggedy, piece of cloth stuffed with another piece of cloth would play a nice surrogate-bed role and give an outlet to their destructive behavior without costing an arm and a leg.

This is a same technique used for dogs who love to dig up a yard. A way to preserve a pretty yard might be to designate a safe dig-zone and encourage your dog to dig there by burring toys and other objects of desire.This is essentially a redirection technique.

And if exercise, entertainment, and redirection doesn’t work, you can try the repelling technique.

Repel

Before you introduce the new dog bed to your dog, spray it with something like NaturVet Bitter Yuck No Chew Spray For Dogs.

My grandma told me I was a thumb-sucker when I was a baby. Way past the point of when that type of behavior usually ends. So she put some pepper on my thumb and when I stuck that thumb in my mouth I got a yucky surprise of my life.

I don’t remember any of this, but the end result seams to by that I really, really, like pepper.

The idea here is to give a dog a yucky surprise of a lifetime, and that should be enough to keep them from chewing up the bed. It certainly got me to stop sucking my thumb.

If your dog likes to put things in her mouth whilst getting to know them, this spray will leave a very bitter taste. Hopefully this will be enough for even the most persistent Destroyer to swear off chewing on that bed forever.

This might have a side effect of the dog not wanting to even lay on the bed, but luckily dogs usually don’t generalize well. So you should be ok.

In my case, Dojo -the intended user of the bed- is the one I want to lay on the bed anyways. So if Gwen is totally repelled by it, well, I guess I’ll find a way to carry on. #hehe

Manage

So far, the 4 techniques have been focused on the dog. We could also take a different tack and manage the behavior from a different perspective.

There are companies who sell “indestructible dog beds“. I haven’t tried any of these so I can’t vouch for their indestructibility, but it does seam like a valid approach.

Nature’s Sleep dog bed is made so that the zipper is on the floor-side of a very heavy bed.

This is tailor-made for me since Gwen is too small to flip the bed, and her usual point of entry is to start chewing on the zipper, get to the soft innards and then proceed to systematically disassemble the innards all over the place. See human bed example above.

A Week Later

I started writing this article about a week ago and I’m happy to report that thus far, Gwen the Destroyer has been kept at bay.

She hasn’t chewed up the bed, AND Dojo seems to be winning the ownership thus far. Here he is, caught on camera during an early Tucson sunrise.

The Strategy

These 5 techniques, -exercise, entertain, redirect, repel, and manage- are best used in combination for a maximum effect, thus creating a solid strategy.

I bet even Gwen the Destroyer will be deterred if I’m consistent -and persistent- in applying at least 2 or 3 out of these 4 techniques every time she’s left alone.

And if you thought that the best way to protect a dog bed from being destroyed is to hire another dog to guard the bed, well, you might be onto something.

But you can’t hire Dojo because he has hopelessly succumbed to the charms and magnetism of Gwen the Destroyer. As I have succumbed to the charms and magnetism of Gwen’s rightful owner.

As dog lovers, it’s inevitable that we encounter issues like bed destruction, incessant barking, excessive digging, and I’m sure lots more.

  • What issues have you encountered?
  • What solutions have worked for you and your dog?

Comments

  1. says

    We have litter mates, Sydney is my Princess and perfect in all ways, Rodrigo is the one God sent to test my patience.  I love them both.  Rodrigo destroyed many many beds and I finally went to a pet psychic – yeah, I said it! – and she told me he was bored.  Now weather he told her that or her years of experience with dogs did, I really don’t care.  I had an easy solution and he hasn’t destroyed a bed in a year (almost).  Good thing, because his beds are expensive.

    • says

      Ah good…I did list boredom, I must be a psychic :-p 

      Ya know, with Gwen, she’s not really bored…she is a perfect little dog until one day she has a manic episode…I never took a picture of various computer cables she’s chewed up, one of which was the power cable to my Mac, a $90.00 value btw….

      We have a theory about her tho….if she got lost, it would take exactly 16 minutes to find another set of humans to torture…she’s THAT cute :-)

      • says

        I do know how you feel. I have an American Bulldog Crip who is now 9 months old and still chewing his way into my heart. We are on our 4th bed and I have another on order but refuse to give it to him until I find somthing to keep him from chewing it. He is also called my Low-voltage junkie. Until we figured it out he knocked out our cable about 10 times ate 2 cell phones and 1-1/2 remote controls. Needless to say we are being trained the right way. He lets us know every day what we have done wrong and to fix it. But we love him so much that we do what we can.

  2. says

    Here’s my favorite sentence from your post: “I think that 80% of all issues with dogs can be fixed if only you could
    leave them in a state of utter exhaustion when you leave the house.”  AGREE!  Great post.

  3. Anonymous says

    Great article.  I am glad you have found a solution to your problem.  I can relate,  I have a friend who I lived with for a while who has a pit bull.  Pretty good dog for the most part except he ate his dog beds like they were a part of his regular diet.  I even donated a few to the cause hoping that maybe if he started out with a new one, as opposed to a old worn out one,…. well, you know the story.  They did last a bit longer, but still had the same ending. My friend and his friend has since moved in with his mother and she has had the same problem.  We were hoping that having a big room with a doggie door to a big back yard to play in anytime he wanted, would keep him entertained along with the numerous toys and large bones to chew on.  He has calmed down a lot, but he still had his share of bedding desert.  I think they have just resorted to old blankets instead.  I think I will send her your blog.  Maybe she can get an idea from it, if nothing else, she will enjoy the humor.  By the way,  I also have a dog(she just destroys her toys)I think I will check into getting her one of those beds.  Maybe I can get mine back. LOL.  Thanks for your post.

  4. Canisbonus Dogs says

    Nice summary. Love the “roll all strategies into one” approach. Love the “don’t give up on your dog. Keep looking for that solution”. Good stuff. 

    • says

      Laure-Anne!!!! How are ya? :-)

      Great to see you here and thnx for the comment.

      Ya, I find too much focus is paid to specific tactics….it doesnt really matter how we exercise our dogs, as long as we do. It doesnt really matter how we keep them busy, as long as we do.

      And using more than one approach almost guarantees success. Almost 2 weeks into it and the bed is still in 1 piece :-) YAY!!!!

  5. JenaMarie says

    I have tried all of these and they don’t work for my Labrador Retriever.

    If I know I need to be somewhere at a certain time I will take my puppy outside for hours to try to exhaust her but it just seems to energize her.

    She has ropes, honeycombs, bones, KONGs, stuffed animals…. she will chew on them for a little while then go straight for her bed or mine.

    I have tried the redirect approach and it satisfies her for a little while but then she gets over it and goes back to her bed, my bed or even the couch. She loves to pull stuffing out and eat it so anything with stuffing in it she will destroy.

    The Bitter No Chew spray is the first think I tried and it is almost like she is attracted to it, she will chew whatever is strayed on MORE than when it wasn’t sprayed. I eventually just stopped using it because it would get in my mouth too somehow and that stuff us NASTY!

    Those indestructible beds are so hard and uncomfortable that she won’t even use it, she only chews on it.

    I am happy these worked for you, as for me though… I am back to the drawing board.

  6. Kristen Crawford says

    Great article, lots of helpful suggestions. However…I have a bit of a different situation…And frankly, my husband and I are at a loss.
    We have a 12 1/2 year old mutt, she has started over the last year, destroying OUR bed. For years, we’d leave her and she’d snooze away on our bed….But over the last year, she claws to the point she has shredded several comforters as well as sheets.
    She’ll do it if we’re not home, if we’re outside and she’s inside, if we’re downstairs and she decides to go upstairs. The behavior is very random. And costly.
    I know the saying is you can’t teach old dogs new tricks…but we’ve tried. Thundershirt worked for a while, then it stopped. We walk her. She doesn’t really play with toys, so that didn’t work out. We’ve tried heavier blankets, she goes right thru all the layers. Our solution is to usually shut our bedroom door so she can’t get in, but that has lead to her clawing some other furniture. We were told it’s a nervous behavior and she’s only clawing to get to our scent.
    At this point…we are running out of ideas…Any advice would be appreciated!!!

  7. JC says

    Our yellow Lab is just a year old so I am hoping the chewing will eventually subside . . . but until then, I use CAYENNE pepper on everything that she chews. It’s cheap and I buy it at SAMS club in a HUGE bottle. This completely halts her chewing on plants, planters, deck railing . . . LITERALLY everything. She hates it so much that she runs when she sees the bottle. This pepper works so well that we can put it on the ground in a circle around a delicate plant, and she will completely avoid the circle . . . until the next rain when you have to reapply. I haven’t tried it, but I would bet it would work as an invisible fence – Hahaha! This has saved my marriage and I highly recommend it to all dog lovers for an organic deterrant for any bad doggy behavior!!!




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