Like babies, puppies and dogs chew as a means of exploring their world. Just like infants, puppies chew as they are teething. More mature dogs chew to keep their jaws strong and teeth clean. Although chewing is normal, if your dog starts chewing on inappropriate items such as your shoes and furniture and becomes more destructive, you may have a problem.
Why Dogs Chew
First, you have to determine why your dog is chewing. Some reasons may include:
- As a puppy, he was not taught what he can and can't chew
- To get attention
- Separation anxiety
- Medical problems such as nutritional deficiencies or gastrointestinal problems
How to Stop Your Dog From Chewing
First, you need to rule out any medical conditions that could potentially be contributing to your dog's chewing. If the destructive chewing is not medical in nature, here's some tips to curb his mis-behavior:
- Move your items. If you don't want your dog chewing on it, move it. Keep clothing, shoes, rubber bands, and anything toxic out of your dog's reach. Be particularly careful of electrical cords that could lead to electrocution. Basically, you need to puppy-proof your home, just like baby proofing it.
- Give your dog chew toys. If you give your dog a sock to chew on, he won't be able to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate toys. It isn't fair to expect your dog to learn that some socks are okay to chew and others aren't. Instead, invest in some chew toys like Nylabones, Greenies Smart Chew™ bones, KONG Dental and natural bones to keep your dog busy. Also, the Humane Society has a list of toys that are safe. For instance, you may want to avoid toys that have a squeaker in them, because your dog may destroy them trying to get to the source of the noise. Also, be careful of rawhide and beef bones that can become lodged in a dog's throat and cause suffocation. Introduce a new toy or rotate the toys so your dog doesn't get bored with the same old toys.
- Teach him. Initially, your dog won't know what he can and cannot chew. It is up to you to give him the right guidance. If you see him licking or chewing an item he shouldn't, say "No," remove the item, and give him something that he CAN chew. Then praise him. If you're not going to be around to watch him (particularly when he is a puppy), consider confining him in a crate or a small room with a baby gate.
- Play with your dog. Too often, dogs become mischievous because they are bored. Spend plenty of quality time with your dog and make sure he gets enough exercise. Since October 1 - 7 is National Walk Your Dog Week
If you get home and find something destroyed, DO NOT spank or scold your dog after the fact. He will not connect the punishment with a behavior he did hours or even minutes ago. Animals associate punishment with what they're doing at the time they're being corrected. Some people think their dog looks guilty and knows he did something wrong. Actually, he is responding to your angry tone of voice and may be acting submissive. Also, do not leave your dog in a crate (for more than 6 hours) to prevent chewing.
If your dog continues to display destructive chewing habits, call your Bark Busters dog trainer. We can help you STOP this behavior and any other undesirable behaviors without resorting to harsh punishments.