Why your Dog is Destructive Chewing and What to do
All dogs chew, from puppy to seniors. It is one of the ways dogs explore their environment, it relieves boredom and is even a way to relieve doggy tension. For young dogs chewing can ease teething pain, and for older dogs it keeps their teeth clean and their jaws strong. But if you have noticed your dog is chewing more and you are not sure what to do about it here is a look at reasons for destructive chewing and how to prevent it.
Why is my dog chewing?
1) Hunger –
If your dog has been put on a calorie restricted diet he or she may be hungry and trying to find food. You can spot this if the items being chewed on have a food odor or are related to food.
2) Fabric-sucking –
In most experts opinion dogs chewing and sucking on fabric is a sign they were weaned too early. Puppies should remain with their mother until they are seven to eight weeks old. If your dog is chewing fabric for a long periods of time and he is difficult to stop or aggressive it may mean that behavior is now something compulsive. You need to seek professional help from a CAAB (Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist), a CPDT (Certified Professional Dog Trainer) or a Dip ACVB (a board certified veterinary behaviorist). If you would like more information see our article on compulsive behavior.Advertisement
3) Separation Anxiety –
If you come home to find things chewed up but when there the chewing is normal this may be separation anxiety. They do not like being alone so try to relieve this through chewing. There would be other symptoms such as pacing and restlessness, whining and barking, defecation and urinating.
4) Frustrated and stressed dog –
If the children tease him in a confined space where he cannot leave, or he is too close in his crate to something he doesn’t like, he can react with chewing. Sometimes when you say no to joining in with something he can get frustrated and may bite at or chew something. You may have noticed dogs and puppies in shelters will chew or bite their blanket or bowl as you walk past – this is to get your attention. You need to work out what has frustrated them and give them something acceptable to chew on when it happens.
5) Boredom and too little exercise –
All dogs need mental stimulation and physical exercise, some need more than others. Often we do not give our dogs the kind of stimulation they need and when they are bored dogs will find other forms of entertainment, one of those being destructive chewing.
Preventing or controlling destructive chewing
Some chewing in all dogs is normal. Not all chewing is destructive. Dogs should have something to chew on, it keeps their jaws and teeth healthy and it is something they enjoy doing. Your dog just needs to be guided in a gentle and patient manner into what is okay to chew and what is not.
How you deal with destructive chewing depends on the reason but here are some tips on what you can do.
1) Make sure he has his own chew toys and bones –
When you get him chew toys check to see which ones he prefers. Rotate them so that boredom with the same toys does not set in. Bones can be natural and man-made but when giving natural bones make sure they are safe. Some bones like left over chicken wings or t-bones can splinter and cause nasty injuries.
2) Look for times of the day when he is more likely to chew –
Observe his behavior so that you can adjust it. At times when he seems to chew more offer him something else. There are chew toys that come filled with treats you could incorporate into his diet or there are natural chews like rawhide, pig ears and bully sticks for example. There are also dog chew treats that are good for his teeth too like Dentabones® or Dentastix®.
3) Check to see if your puppy is teething –
If you are dealing with a chewing puppy this may be teething. It should stop around 6 months old. There are special puppy toys that can be frozen and given to them to chew that helps numb the pain, or you can freeze or wet washcloths for them to chew on. When he tries to chew something that is not his to chew use some gentle guidance to teach him how to channel his chewing needs.
4) Consider dog proofin –
Keep valuable items out of the way until your dog is trained. Put shoes away. Put dirty clothing up in a hamper out of their way. Keep books in a shelf. Help your dog out by putting away temptations. You could also use chewing deterrent sprays on items of furniture or curtains.
5) Supervise your dog –Advertisement
If your dog is going through this kind of behavior you need to supervise him more until he has been trained. React straight away if he starts licking or chewing something he should not. Remove it, then give him something he can chew and then praise him. If you cannot supervise him leave him confined in an area where he can do no damage either a crate or a small room for up to six hours. Make sure he has chew toys with him and that he gets lots of exercise and time with you when you return.
6) Exercise and training –
Make sure he gets to play, run, and train regularly for his physical and mental needs. Daily walks, dog sports, off leash play, tug and fetch, clicker training are all great examples.
Things to avoid
Do not spank or scold after the fact.
Do not tie a damaged item to your dog.
Do not try to tape his mouth shut around an item he has destroyed.
Do not use muzzling to prevent chewing.
Do not crate your dog for more than six hours to prevent chewing.