Chewing is a normal activity for dogs but most owners would prefer not to lose their favorite pair of shoes or brand new rug to their dog's pastime. Our Santa Cruz County vets offer some tips on how to stop your dog from chewing things they shouldn't.
Why Destructive Chewing Happens
Both puppies and fully grown dogs chew on objects as a way of exploring the world around them. For puppies, chewing can also be a way to relieve pain that might be caused by teething. For adult dogs, chewing helps to keep their jaws strong and teeth clean.
That said, while chewing is usually a healthy behavior in dogs, there are occasions when a dog may chew excessively and destroy your things.
Stress & Anxiety
Dogs are highly social creatures which is why many of our furry friends suffer from separation anxiety when their owners are away. Dogs experiencing stress or anxiety will often turn to chewing as a way to comfort themselves.
Dogs that are left alone for extended periods of time without mental stimulation 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.
Just like human babies, puppies go through a teething period when they experience pain and discomfort as their adult teeth erupt. During this time, your puppy will chew in order to relieve some of their discomfort.
If your pooch is on a calorie-restricted diet, there is a chance that they might begin to chew on objects in an effort to find other sources of nutrition. Chewing that is due to hunger is typically directed toward objects related to food or that smell like food such as plastic bowls.
How to Stop a Dog from 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, such as chew toys.
Making sure that your pup gets plenty of exercise before you leave the house is one of the best ways to curb destructive chewing. A tired dog is a happy dog! High energy breeds such as German Shepherds, Border Collies, Brittnays and Springer Spaniels need at least two hours of exercise every day, while Pomeranians, Pugs, Shih Tzus and a number of other small dogs often do well with as little as 40 minutes. Ask your vet 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. Every 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).
Supplying your canine companion with 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 pooch to chew on, and prevent boredom chewing.
Removing all other temptations can go a long way to ensuring that your pooch only chews designated objects. 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 out of your pup's reach.
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.