Chewing is a normal activity for dogs, especially puppies, but it can lead to the destruction of various objects around the house. Today, our Orlando vets explain some reasons why your dog may chew things excessively and what you can do about it.
Why Dogs Chew Excessively
Chewing on objects is your dog's way of exploring the world around them. Chewing can also be a way for puppies to relieve teething pain and for adult dogs to keep their jaws strong and teeth clean.
That said, while chewing is healthy behavior in dogs, your pooch may not always choose the right things to sink their teeth into. But why?
Puppies go through an uncomfortable teething period just like human babies. While your puppy is teething they are likely to chew frequently to relieve their pain and discomfort.
If your dog spends extended periods alone without mental stimulation they can quickly become bored and may resort to chewing on any interesting objects that they find around your house as a way of passing time.
Stress & Anxiety
Our furry friends are social creatures at heart and many pets suffer from separation anxiety when their owners are away. Dogs experiencing anxiety or stress will often turn to chewing as a way to comfort themselves.
It is not uncommon for dogs on calorie-restricted diets to begin chewing on objects to find other sources of nutrition. This type of chewing is generally directed toward objects related to food or that smell like food such as plastic bowls.
Preventing Your Pooch From Chewing
When trying to prevent your dog from destructive chewing, it is essential to start by identifying the cause and eliminating any of the problems listed above. Step two is to focus on redirecting your dog's chewing to more desirable objects, such as chew toys.
Adequate daily exercise is the key to a happy and contented pup. Making sure that your pooch gets plenty of exercise before you leave the house is one of the best ways to curb destructive chewing. High-energy breeds such as Border Collies, German Shepherds, Brittanys, and Springer Spaniels need at least two hours of exercise every day, while more laid-back breeds such as Pomeranians, Pugs, and Shih Tzus often do well with as little as 40 minutes of exercise daily.
To help reduce separation anxiety or boredom in dogs that spend extended periods alone, try training your dog to associate alone time with positive experiences. When you leave, provide a puzzle toy stuffed with food, and a variety of fun, special toys that your dog only gets to play with while you are away (to retain the novelty).
Providing your pooch with lots of interesting toys will not only create a positive association with alone time, but it will also serve as a distraction from the objects that you don't want your dog to chew on.
Removing all other temptations can help ensure that your pup only chews designated objects. Place valuable objects out of reach, make sure your laundry is put away or in a closed hamper, and ensure that books and children's toys are stored out of your dog's reach.
Discourage Unwanted Chewing
When you encounter your dog chewing on an item they shouldn't be, say "no," take it away, and replace it with a chew toy. Then be sure to provide lots of praise when your dog chews on that instead.
If none of the suggestions above are successful in stopping your dog's destructive chewing, you may want to try spraying any objects you don't want your dog to chew with a dog deterrent spray.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.