Why Puppies and Dogs Chew
Puppies and dogs chew because chewing is hard-wired into their genes.
Chewing helps them relax, it gives them something to do and it feels good! Puppies chew for the same reasons but also because they are teething and tend to use their mouths to explore their world. Believe it or not, what they chew on is primarily up to you.
There is nothing better than puppy breath, plump puppy bellies and those needle sharp teeth! Puppies are so darn cute that even when they chew up our favorite oriental rug, we do our best to be forgiving. A very wise dog trainer and friend of mine said, “I’m convinced that God made puppies and babies utterly adorable for one reason…so that we don’t kill them!” If you’ve been on the receiving end of those needle sharp teeth or had one too many oriental rugs demolished, you’ll appreciate that statement.
All dogs must be taught what is acceptable to chew on and this lesson is best learned in puppyhood. Assuming you have enrolled in puppy training classes, your puppy trainer can identify the best methods to teach your puppy appropriate chewing. All training, however, begins at home with one simple lesson; never give your puppy your personal items as chew toys. If an item belongs to you it should never be offered to your pet as a toy. If you give your pet old socks and slippers or discarded articles of clothing to play with, they will see all socks, shoes and clothing as their playthings.
Dogs cannot distinguish which of these things are OK to play with and which are not. It’s best to keep your “toys” separate from their toys to eliminate any possible confusion. Better choices are age and size-appropriate puppy chew toys. Kong toys and any chew toys made by the company Pet Stages are excellent choices.
If your adult dog is chewing inappropriate items or is exhibiting destructive chewing, the most likely causes are anxiety or boredom. Dogs who spend a lot of time alone are prone to this behavior and it is correctable by giving the dog something to do while you are away from home. Our dog trainers will show you various methods to eliminate unwanted chewing and help you identify ways to engage your pet in your absence.
We also recommend the following:
Environmental control. If your dog routinely chews on the same item, remove the item from his reach and replace it with an acceptable chew toy. If the item is a piece of furniture, your pet will have to be trained not to chew on it. Topical sprays such as Bitter Lime or Bitter Apple work well as a deterrent for some dogs.
Provide appropriate chew toys. Every time you leave the house, your dog should be given toys and chewable items to occupy himself. Natural (made in the U.S.) rawhide, dried sweet potato chews, and natural and man-made chew bones are excellent choices. While many dogs enjoy tennis balls, these have been proven in several studies to be damaging to teeth so we recommend these for fetch only and not as chew toys.
Provide mental stimulation. Your pet should find enjoyment in activities other than chewing. Toys that talk, giggle or move about on their own are good choices as is creating little obstacle courses which challenge your dogs mind and help to keep him entertained. Regular dog obedience training is an excellent way to keep your pet stimulated and occupied.
Anxiety and your dog
If your dog suffers from anxiety, it is important to seek professional guidance to determine the root problem of the anxiety. There are numerous dog trainers, dog behaviorists and veterinarians who can get to the root of the problem and provide correction plans. If anxiety is allowed to continue without treatment, the anxiety generally increases, creating additional emotional and behavioral problems.
Never underestimate your dog’s intelligence or his need for mental and physical stimulation. A dog that is not receiving enough attention or challenge will quickly become a power chewer or a destructive pet. Here’s to the power of appropriate chew toys!
The goal of all dog training is to provide peaceable solutions to everyday problems so that pets and their owners live harmoniously. Paws in Training provides dog and cat training services in Raleigh, Apex, Holly Springs, Cary, Fuquay Varina and Garner, N.C.