Understanding Why Your Dog Chews and How to Stop it
You just found your new leather wallet in little bitty pieces strewn all over the room. The culprit is lying there with his head on his paws giving you that big eyed look all dogs know how to give. Just what do you do to stop this crazy chewing habit?First, your dog isn’t chewing to spite you. Dogs have an instinct to chew and that can lead to them chewing things you would prefer they didn’t, like your wallet.
There are several reasons that could be causing a dog to chew. Once you figure out which one fits your dog’s situation, you are on the road to getting him to stop.
Chewing is Natural Behavior
Chewing is part of a dog’s lifestyle. Dogs weren’t born with hands like we are, so they have to use their mouths to figure out what something is. It’s just a natural behavior built right into your furry friend.
When they are young puppies, it’s a form of teething, just like with human babies. Between about three and 10 month of age, they feel the urge to chew because they are losing their puppy teeth and getting in adult teeth. And just like babies, they also like to put things in their mouth to see what they are, if they taste good or if they can eat it.
Because of this, you need to puppy proof your home and keep inappropriate or dangerous items out of your dog’s reach.
Destructive Chewing Issues
One drastic example of a destructive chewing issue is when dogs chew because they have separation anxiety. In a worst case scenario, owners have come home to find their whole living room torn to shreds by their overly anxious pet. If your dog seems extremely attached to you and follows you from room to room, these are signs of a dog that is overly attached to his owner and can’t bear to be separated.
Getting a dog over separation anxiety is not a simple task. You have to gradually get him used to you being gone by leaving for short periods of time and then praising him if you return and all is well. Then, slowly increase the time until it’s safe to leave for longer periods of time. Granted, if you work, this may not be possible, so you may have to get a friend or neighbor to dog sit and help you to complete your dog’s training.
A Bored Dog is a Naughty Dog
It’s possible your dog is just plain bored. You’d be bored too if you had to stay alone in the house all day with no entertainment. If you suspect this is the case, then you can leave him some appropriate things to chew like rawhide bones, Nylabones, or sturdy chew toys.
You can also get your dog used to knowing that when you come home he gets to go for a long walk and gets to run around and play and get rid of some of that excess energy he worked up while you were gone. Give him lots of love and attention when you are together. One thing for certain, if your dog gets enough play and attention, he will be too tired to chew anything inappropriate.
If necessary, you can try crating or putting your dog somewhere in the house where there isn’t anything off limits to chew. Just don’t leave a dog in a situation like this for hours on end. It just isn’t fair to the dog.
Do this, not that
It’s worthless to yell at your dog if you come home to chewed up socks or mangled shoes. Unless you actually catch him with the off limits item in his mouth, he won’t know what you are yelling at him for.
Plus, you have to take on some of the responsibility too. Don’t leave off limits items around for your dog to find. Keep them out of his reach at all times. Don’t offer him toys that look like your shoes and expect him to not think your real shoes are ok to chew.
You need to teach him to chew appropriate things or he could not only tear up your things, but he could also hurt or kill himself by chewing dangerous things like electric cords or poisonous plants.
You should also keep an eye on a new pet until he understands the rules of the house. Be sure to dog proof your home, just like you would baby proof your home for a curious child. You can use anti-chew sprays like Bitter Apple and spray them on things he might try to chew like table legs or leather shoes. These are non-toxic and bad tasting liquids that can help some dogs learn what isn’t good to chew.
Medical causes for chewing
There are also physical reasons a dog chews things. If for some reason he isn’t getting the proper vitamins or minerals in his diet, he may be instinctively trying to find those nutrients. Have your pet checked at the veterinarian and make sure you are feeding him a high quality dog food and not the cheapest one at the supermarket.
Is your dog chewing himself and not items around the house? If he is chewing himself raw he could have an allergy or some other sort of skin condition. Check him for fleas or other pests for starters. Your veterinarian can help you determine what the reason is for a self-chewing pet.
If he is chewing on odd objects that are hard, like rocks, he could have a tooth or gum problem and for some reason this feels good to him. Again, have him checked out at the vet. Plus, to avoid this sort of scenario, start brushing your dog’s teeth with doggie toothpaste when he’s a puppy and be sure to offer teeth cleaning treats like dog biscuits and special dental chews.
The bottom line is that dogs chew. It’s just something that they do that humans need to learn to handle. Owners need to be observant and try to understand the dog’s reasons and find the appropriate way to solve it.