Chewing is about as normal and natural for dogs as it gets – you would be hard pressed to find a pooch that never chews. Of course, just like with many other dog behaviors, chewing has to be directed so that it’s not harmful to your pup or his environment. Whether he’s a puppy or an adult, your dog needs to know what he’s allowed to chew and what he’s not – for his safety and your sanity!
Why Do Dogs Chew?
Understanding why your dog is chewing destructively is a great first step to learning how to redirect it. Take a step back and think about which of the following factors might be causing this undesirable habit:
He’s a puppy. This is the most common – but definitely not the only – reason dogs chew. Chewing is important for the teething process in puppies, and may become a problem again around eight months to a year, when your dog’s adult teeth settle into the jaw.
He’s bored. Dogs that are left alone for significant periods of time in an unstimulating environment often turn to chewing to keep themselves occupied. Consider this if your dog is often alone or especially high energy.
He’s anxious. You may have a dog with a particularly strong desire to be with a pack, and when you leave, he experiences some level of separation anxiety. If you think this might be a serious problem for your dog, talk to your vet about your concerns.
Tips for Controlling Chewing
There are several tips and tricks you can try to help redirect your dog’s chewing and prevent them from destroying what they shouldn’t. When choosing a strategy, think about the reason you believe they chews and start with something that corrects that. Rest assured that the vast majority of chewing problems can be solved with some variation of these techniques!
Control the environment – If your dog is chewing things they are not allowed to, chances are it’s when you’re not at home or directly supervising them. That means you’re not there to correct the behavior, so you must control the environment in order to stop the damage. A kennel or crate can be good in these situations just be sure to toss in a couple good chew toys, like these Ziwi Peak Deer Shank Bone Dog Chews to help keep them entertained while you are away!
A kennel is a great idea for any dog. It will give the anxious pup a secure “den” when you’re away, it helps with potty training young puppies and it works with the natural “denning” instinct every dog has. The crate should never be a punishment, but rather a comfortable home that features lots of good things to chew! Just make sure your pup has an easily accessible source of water as well.
Exercise – This is especially important for the bored dog, although any dog with the tendency to chew will benefit from a good romp in the backyard. Try more stimulating exercise than just letting your dog out – play frisbee, take them to the dog park or on long walks, teach them new tricks. A tired dog is much less likely to get into things he shouldn’t. Plus there is the added health benefits of the exercise you get as well.
Keep chew toys interesting – Try out different toys that are designed to keep dogs busy for a while. KONG Chew Toys are great for this, as they can be stuffed with your pup’s favorite foods, which he has to work for. Something else to keep in mind when choosing entertaining toys is that dogs love the interesting way things change shape when they are chewed. A treat like Redbarn Products Bully Sticks Dog Chews that becomes chewy when wet is a great option.
Once you find chews that your dog loves – rotate them to keep things interesting! This will help the bored dog. For the anxious dog, try rubbing the toy between your palms before you leave it in the crate to impart your scent and draw your dog’s attention to it. This will help them feel more comfortable while you are gone.
It’s important to see destructive chewing as something to be redirected through thoughtful training rather than a bad habit to be stopped altogether. Figure out the cause of your dog’s chewing and try to help them through whatever they are experiencing – whether that’s teething, boredom or anxiety. This approach will build a healthy relationship between the two of you and is definitely the most effective in solving chewing problems.