Anyone who has had a puppy knows the pain of losing something they valued because of chewing. And, chewing isn’t limited to just puppyhood- for some dog owners, they live with ongoing chewing, and it is one of the biggest complaints I receive as a dog trainer. Understanding why they chew is the key to unlocking how to stop it, so let’s review the top 3 reasons and solutions.
We already mentioned that puppies are the most prevalent chewers. They use their mouth to explore the world. It also relieves pain caused by incoming teeth, much like a toddler would. At this stage, give the puppy appropriate things to chew on and keep others out of their reach. Proactivity will save your shoes and furniture, which may mean keeping them kenneled while you are away, keeping them in a chew-proof area or keeping your belongings safely in another area of the home.
It is a normal behavior for a dog to chew past puppyhood- they enjoy bones and chew toys filled with treats. It develops jaw strength, so make sure they have chewables and when they attempt to chew the wrong items, correct them in the moment with authoritative words.
Tip: First, be proactive; Second, correct with stern but calm words.
Dogs communicate through behavior and if they have energy to burn, chewing helps relieve that. If they are bored, they may invite you to play by bringing a toy to you, or may desire a walk and bounce around at the door. But, when you aren’t home, they may chew to give themselves an activity. Be sure before you leave that you walk or run your dog and that you are providing mental stimulus through play.
Tip: An exercised dog is a good dog. Be sure to create stimulus for your dog both physically and mentally through daily exercise appropriate to their breed and age.
Separation anxiety and even general anxiety can lead to chewing, much like how a human will bite their nails. Address separation anxiety by creating the structure for calmness for your dog, which includes building confidence in yourself as the leader, and engaging in fun activities.
Tip: Establish your leadership to give your dog a more calm environment
Just as any habit you wish to change, it can be done when it is addressed with consistency. If you’re struggling to find a solution for the destructive chewing behavior, consider getting an expert to help. Since chewing the wrong object can cause lasting medical harm to your pup, you’re doing what’s best for you both by asking for help, plus, hopefully, you’ll save your next pair of new shoes.
What was the most expensive item your dog has chewed?