How To Prevent Your Dog From Chewing

Amber Drake

While sitting here pondering what I would write for all of you this week, I realized there is another question I am continuously asked. Why do dogs appear to get so much enjoyment out of destroying their toys … or even their favorite toy?

When they are puppies, it makes perfect sense to nearly every dog lover. Puppies chew on things because they’re a baby. Babies chew on things because they are teething.

When a puppy chews, it helps ease the pain from teething. While high-quality dog chews are fantastic (like bully sticks), you may also give them ice cubes or some type of toy that can be frozen to help relieve the pain.

The ‘chewing’ phase for puppies generally lasts until they’re around 6 months old.

Why Adult Dogs Love Chewing on Toys … Or Whatever Else They Want

You will find that your little angel likes to chew for stimulation and for fun. They also will chew when they are anxious.

Chewing is a normal behavior, but we tend not to teach them soon enough on what is appropriate to chew on and what is not. My dog has about eight different things she takes turns with to chew, bounce and bring to me to play with her.

Research shows they should have a variety of chew toys to keep them stimulated.

Even when you do supply the appropriate things, there are times that your dog decides to chew up your pillow or an article of clothing (like your favorite pair of brand new comfy socks!).

Just as a disclaimer … if you think there could be anything wrong at all … as usual you should check with your veterinarian to make sure your pet doesn’t have anything wrong.

Research has shown that dogs also chew when they are just plain bored. If they don’t have enough stimulation, they grab their favorite stuffed animal, start shaking it, and pouncing all over it. Let’s face it… this behavior looks kind of adorable … right? Yes, it looks cute while they are doing that but what do you think the next step in this phase is? Yep, chewing.

Besides being part of their inherited hunting senses, they just have to find out where that squeaker is and start pulling out all of that fluff.

Can You Really Train a Dog Not to Tear Things Apart?

Since chewing is a ‘normal instinct,’ you may or may not be able to teach your dog not to tear things apart. BUT, you can teach him or her what is appropriate and what’s not. And, there are some tips to share to prevent chewing inappropriate items, too.

Before the tips are shared, it’s critical to note that you should never punish your dog for chewing. This will result in a lack of trust for you and take a huge hit on the bond you share with her.

First tip, dog proof your house. This is a no-brainer, right? Put all of the valuable objects you can think of away until you’re absolutely certain your dog isn’t going to chew them up. Be sure to keep your dirty clothes in a hamper and books on the shelves. These tend to be their favorite items. You should also be sure to put anything dangerous away where they’re definitely not going to find it (medications, cleaners, toxins, etc).

Next, you should provide your dog with plenty of toys to choose from. There should be several toys that can be chewed on, literally for hours, just to make sure if your dog feels like chewing for a long period of time that toy will last.

The best idea regarding toys is to keep a bucket full and continuously rotate their toy selection. This will produce the ‘new and shiny’ effect to keep your dog occupied.

Edible things to chew are important, too. Offer your dog some bully sticks, pig ears, or other type of natural chew. It’s recommended not to provide rawhide or nylabones … these are ‘no-no’s’ in the doggy world. Nylabones have been found to choke quite a few dogs because they’re able to rip off large chunks. And, rawhide — well — you should research this to find out why. That could be another article all on it’s own.

Believe it or not, there may be certain times of the day your dog chews. Pay attention to this. Keep a journal of your dog’s routine. Then, you’re able to provide your dog with what he needs when he needs it.

You can discourage inappropriate items that you’re not able to ‘hide’ by spraying them with chewing deterrent. If you grab a deterrent from let’s say PetSmart, place a little on a cotton ball and let your dog taste it. If your dog immediately replies with a ‘YUCK’ type reaction, that’s what you’re looking for. And, he will pick up on that scent if he were to approach a ‘no-no’ object. The deterrent should be applied to those items every two weeks or so.

It’s important to note here, the deterrent should not act as your ‘sole’ resource to keep your dog from chewing inappropriate items. You should also be acting on all of the other information provided so she understands what she is and isn’t allowed to have.

Providing your dog with plenty of exercise is key too. As we always say, a tired dog is a happy dog. In addition to playing, play dates can help, too. Your dog loves to play, and most dogs love to be social and interact with other dogs (and other people).

Start Now … Even if Your Dog Isn’t Chewing

The bottom line here is — act now. Even if your dog isn’t a chewer, all the items outlined in this article are applicable. If your dog doesn’t chew and were to all of a sudden get bored of something, there’s a possibility he could begin chewing randomly.

I am approached often with ‘my dog has never chewed and she all of a sudden started this week.’ Usually, it’s due to a lack of mental or physical stimulation. And, once these are provided the dog is back to normal.

That’s all I have for today … until next time!

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