“My dog chews on everything!” is a common cry heard in our store.
Other common phrases likely to be overheard in the store are, “How can I get him to stop chewing?” or “When will this end?”.
Dogs chew. There’s no way around it. Anyone who gets a dog, especially a young dog or puppy is going to have to resign to the fact that a few shoes, chair legs or carpet corners are going to fall victim to your dog’s jaws.
But why do dogs chew? Can you stop it? SHOULD you stop it? How can you encourage your dog to chew less destructively?
It most certainly is a problem when every time you turn your back your dog is eating your sunglasses or favorite slippers. It would be so much easier if someone could create a “designer dog” that didn’t have the urge to chew, much like some “designer dogs” seem to trigger fewer allergies!
Unfortunately, the urge to chew is deeply ingrained in your dog’s instincts and no amount of breeding is going to remove that need.
However, we can take a look at why your dog chews and how it can be a positive thing in their life.
A Few Reasons Why Your Dog Might Chew
Your dog is a puppy!
Puppies are exploring and experiencing the world through their mouths, so no wonder they chew! Everything is interesting and new to them, especially items that have interesting textures, flavors and scents on them. Eyeglasses often get chewed up because the ear pieces and nose pieces smell like the puppy’s owner and they are drawn to that scent. Consider it a compliment!
However, as a puppy gets older they can start teething, in which new teeth come through their gums, replacing baby teeth. As with human babies this can be a painful experience, so puppies chew. Chewing gives them relief from the pain of teething.
To help your puppy through teething and just general chewing, designate some toys to be HIS or HER toys. Play with your puppy with that toy specifically, praise your puppy when he or she chews on it. Try not to yell at or physically punish your puppy if he chews on something he’s not supposed to chew on. Be firm, take it away, use body language, but pups do not necessarily connect bad behavior with punishment. They know they’ve been bad and respond accordingly, but do not know the root of the offense.
TIP: A Kong with frozen wet food inside can be a fun “pup-sicle” for your puppy to chew on plus it will make his sensitive gums feel better!
It is what they are born to do
It’s hard to go toe to toe with Mother Nature. Instinct drives your dog to chew- or practice. Practice chewing and devouring prey, hunting, exercising, lots of which they do with you when you go to the beach or park!
They also chew to instinctually keep their teeth clean and their jaws strong. Back in the day, a wild animal with a weak jaw and bad teeth just wouldn’t survive.
To keep your dog’s “wild side” happy, make sure your dog has a tough or chewy toy or treat to chew on. Deer antlers are incredibly popular at the store. They are hard, but soften a bit upon contacting saliva, so they do not shard and will not harm your dog’s sensitive digestive tract. Plus they satisfy your dog’s need to chew, have nutritious bone marrow inside them, AND clean their teeth!
Certain situations can stress out certain dogs. Anything from being left alone for extended periods of time, to new surroundings, to new pet’s or baby- many things can trigger anxiety for a dog. Many dogs will take to chewing to relieve anxiety. When your dog chews, endorphins are released thus causing a calming or “feel better” effect on your dog.
If your dog is becoming destructive due to anxiety such as separation anxiety, it may be in your best interest to consult a trainer or behaviorist. That way, you will have an experienced and professional guide to help you help your dog. Sometimes, well meaning dog parents can inadvertently cause their dogs more stress if they are not careful!
Most of all, it is important to retain your composure and calm with your dog when dealing with their anxiety. Dogs pick up on many conscious and unconscious cues, so if it’s a big deal to you, it will be a big deal to them. And remember, they are not just “being bad” they are simply behaving in the only way they know how- as a dog.
This is a very quick rundown as to the common reasons why your dog is chewing. A few other reasons might be:
Something tastes good!
It gets them attention
They have pent up energy
They JUST LIKE TO CHEW!
Long story short, your dog needs to chew on something. You can help your dog develop positive chewing habits by giving your dog toys appropriate for chewing. Play with your dog with the chew toys you give them. Your dog will understand that that toy is theirs and for chewing, and they will have a positive association with it. Also, combat your dog’s boredom by giving them new chew treats or toys once in a while. Just like you need the occasional pick-me-up, so does your dog!
If you think your dog’s chewing may be a more serious problem, please, always consult a vet. This blog, and the Calvin & Susie Blogger are never meant to replace a professional vet’s expertise. When in doubt, ask your vet.
~Your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger