(DOG TRAINING/PUPPIES) Chewing is an extremely common and normal activity in dogs. Dogs and puppies love to chew on bones, sticks, and many other things that are easily available.
As infants crawl around, they find anything and put it in their mouth. Similarly, puppies and dogs explore the world while chewing things.
Young dogs chew to relieve pain caused by new teeth. Older dogs chew objects because it’s a natural way to keep their jaws and teeth strong and clean. Chewing also eliminates boredom and can relieve frustration and anxiety.
But it’s up to you to dictate what your dog can and cannot chew, and it’s your responsibility to prevent letting your dog chew unacceptable and/or undesirable objects.
1. Understand why dogs chew
Similar to toddlers and infants, puppies like to explore the world around them by putting objects in their mouths. They also facilitate their growing teeth by chewing. However, adult dogs might engage in destructive chewing for a large number of reasons. But to deal with this behavior, you first of all need to understand the reasons behind destructive chewing. Here are some reasons why your dog may be chewing destructively:
- When your dog was just a puppy, he/she was not taught what to chew versus what not to chew
- He/she gets bored
- He/she is suffering from separation anxiety
- Chewing behavior related to fear
- He/she wants to gain attention
Please note: You may want to consult a professional expert to help diagnose and treat your dog’s issues with fear and separation anxiety.
2. Teach your dog what can and cannot be chewed
Although it’s perfectly okay if your dog or puppy displays normal chewing behaviors, destructive chewing should be taken care of. This is why they should learn what can and cannot be chewed. This should be taught them in a humane manner using positive reinforcement.
- Assume responsibility of your personal belongings — If you do not want your personal belongings getting in your dog’s mouth, try keeping them out of reach. Keep your clothes, eyeglasses, trash, books and shoes in remote places difficult for your dog to reach.
- Provide your dog with clearly distinguishable chew-friendly items like toys and bones.
- Closely monitor and supervise your dog until he/she learns the rules of the house.
- Provide your dog with plenty of mental stimulation as well as physical exercise.
- If your puppy is teething, freeze a wet cloth for chewing. This will certainly sooth his/her gums and provide pain relief.
- Apply pet-friendly taste deterrents to furniture and other items that should not be chewed.
3. Reduce or eliminate the problems causing destructive chewing
- Separation anxiety – Dogs resort to destructive chewing when they are left alone. They can also display other signs of acute separation anxiety such as defecation, urination, restlessness, pacing, barking, and whining.
- Fabric sucking – Fabric sucking occurs due to early weaning. Slowly it becomes a compulsive behavior and can be very difficult to control.
- Hunger – A dog who isn’t given sufficient nutrients because of a diet, might chew on destructive objects in order to get some additional nutrition.
Please note: Never punish your dog for destructive chewing behavior. Punishment will not solve the problem, but can lead to further undesirable behaviors.
How to manage your dog’s destructive chewing behavior:
- Puppy teething – Because puppies resort to destructive chewing when they are teething, it is recommended that they are given ice cubes for associated discomfort. They can also be given special puppy toys which can be frozen, and help numb the teeth and gums. Gentle guidance can lead your puppy to chew only desirable objects such as his/her toys.
- Build confidence in your dog and provide them with stability – Create a daily routine in which your dog walks, plays, exercises, and eats regularly. Mental stimulation and physical exercise will provide your dog with confidence, encourage formal obedience, and establish a very comfortable environment for it.
- Desensitizing – By setting a daily routine for your dog, he/she will become occupied in those productive activities and will not feel tempted to indulge in destructive chewing behavior. You can also make use of music therapy that can help your dog relax.
- If your puppy still exhibits abnormal destructive chewing behavior, you should consult a professional expert or a vet and provide him/her with anti-anxiety medication or pet rescue therapy.
So, we know that dogs and puppies are highly engaged in chewing. They love chewing bones, sticks, and other things for fun, stimulation, and to relieve themselves of pain from teething or any kind of anxiety. While normal chewing behavior is perfectly okay, chewing of inappropriate items is never desirable. So, make your dog or puppy indulge into chewing of appropriate and attractive dog toys.
About the Author: Olivia Austin is a professional blogger, covering topics like nature, animals, wildlife, pets, and more.