While chewing is normal and healthy in dogs, most owners would prefer not to sacrifice their favorite pair of shoes or a brand new rug. Here, our Rock Hill vets share some of the causes of destructive chewing in dogs, and how to stop it.
Causes of Destructive Chewing in Dogs
Puppies and dogs chew on objects as a way of exploring their world. For puppies, chewing can also help relieve pain that might be caused by their erupting adult teeth. For adult dogs, chewing can also help keep their jaws strong and teeth clean.
That said, while chewing is usually a healthy behavior in dogs, there are a few reasons that a dog may chew excessively and destroy your things.
Dogs that are left alone for extended periods of time without mental stimulation will become bored, and may resort to chewing on any interesting objects that they find around your house as a way of passing time.
Anxiety & Stress
Dogs are highly social animals, and for this reason many of our canine companions suffer from separation anxiety when their people are away. These dogs will often turn to chewing as a comforting activity.
If your canine companion is on a calorie-restricted diet, there is a chance that they might chew and destroy objects in an effort to find other sources of nutrition. This kind of chewing is usually directed toward objects related to food or that smell like food such as plastic bowls.
Much like human babies, puppies lose their baby teeth and experience pain and discomfort as their permanent teeth come in. During this time, your puppy will chew in order to try and relieve some of their teething pain and discomfort.
Managing & Redirecting Chewing
If you're 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. Then, focus on redirecting your dog's chewing to more desirable objects, like chew toys.
Making sure that your pup gets plenty of exercise before you leave the house is one of the key ways to curb destructive chewing. High energy breeds such as German Shepherds need at least two hours of exercise each day, while Pomeranians and other small dogs usually do well with about 40 minutes. Talk to your vet about how much physical activity your furry friend needs each day to be healthy and happy.
In order to help reduce separation anxiety or boredom in dogs who must be left alone for extended periods of time, try training your dog to associate alone time with positive experiences. Each time 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 lots of interesting toys will not only create a positive association with alone time, it will also serve as a distraction from the objects that you don't want your pup chewing on, and prevent boredom chewing.
To help ensure that your pooch only chews designated objects like toys, remove all other temptations. Put valuable objects out of reach, make sure your laundry is put away or in a hamper, and that books and children's toys are stored away where they belong.
Discourage Unwanted Chewing
If you have tried other solutions and nothing has worked, you may want to try spraying any objects you don't want your dog to chew with a dog deterrent spray. If 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.Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.