If you’ve come home to find that your beloved fluffy Fido has torn up the rug, or made unwanted alterations to your throw pillows, you may be wondering why your precious pup would do such a thing.
What Causes Destructive Chewing in Puppies and Adult Dogs
Boredom and Excess Energy
Possessing neither a gym membership nor a rubix cube, dogs have few ways to release their pent up energy. Those who do not have their physical or mental needs met may engage in destructive behaviors including chewing or otherwise destroying objects, or even chewing him/herself.For some dogs this will present in excessive self-grooming (licking).
Dogs may exhibit anxiety for a variety of reasons, such as separation anxiety, fear of thunder/stormy weather, or nervousness after the introduction of a new pet to the household. Dog anxiety can range from mild and situational to chronic and severe. Exercise, training and adherence to a routine can significantly minimize most anxiousness in dogs, however in some cases medication or supplements containing a casein protein may be appropriate.
Like toddlers, your little ball of fluff will likely experience some degree of discomfort as their big doggie teeth grow in. Teething takes place between three and seven months, as the puppy teeth fall out and adult teeth grow in. Cold or frozen specialty dog teething toys or treats can be kept in the freezer and help sooth sore puppy gums.
Keep in mind, you may not actually find any of your dog’s teeth around the house. As unappetizing as it sounds, many dogs will swallow the teeth that have fallen out.
Dogs who chew on themselves, particularly the paw pads (which may appear red and irritated), may be exhibiting signs of allergies to food or other environmental factors. In such cases it is best to consult with a veterinarian who can provide advice on identifying and managing any present allergies. Like in humans, dog allergies can be seasonal or chronic.
How to Stop Destructive Dog Chewing
Visit Your Veterinarian
Ruling out medical causes for dog and puppy chewing is advised, as a small percentage of destructive chewing cases are due to malnutrition (caused by parasites, incomplete diet, and other medical conditions), thus it is truly important to firstly explain your concerns to a veterinarian.
Provide Ample Exercise Opportunities
Your dog was bred to live a lively and fulfilling life! Dogs of all sizes benefit from plenty of fresh air and exercise, including long daily walks and romps in the park. Generally speaking, the old saying “a tired dog is a good dog” is right on the money. Exercise requirements vary depending on factors such as age, breed, and individual energy level. However, while it is true that the border collie will almost always require more exercise than the mighty chihuahua, even the species smallest dog benefits from a daily walk. The mental and physical benefits of such truly cannot be overstated.
Mental Stimulation Is Important Too
While Fido may not be the next Albert Einstein, he’s no dummy either. Mental stimulation is crucially important for your pup’s wellbeing. Dog-food dispensing puzzle toys, basic obedience, sports such as fly-ball and agility, and learning new tricks are all fun ways to tire out your pups’ brain. Remember to keep it fun and positive; the goal is not simply to master the trick, but to do so in an enjoyable way that fosters the dog-human connection.
Dogs who are regularly trained in basic obedience develop better impulse control and become calmer family members. Ten minutes a day of sit, stay, down, come, and other basic commands will do wonders for your pup. You’ll be amazed at what he can learn as you work your way up to more advanced commands (your dog will be making your double soy latte, extra foam in no time!)
If you catch your dog chewing something he shouldn’t, a firm no, and a redirection to something enjoyable that he is allowed to chew is certainly appropriate.
Until proven trust-worthy, rambunctious puppies should be left only in puppy-proof areas while unattended. Using an x-pen, a crate or a room where all objects are removed from reach are all viable options. While destruction to your property is unfortunate, it is also far too common for a puppy to ingest dangerous foreign material, which can be a very serious medical emergency.
Spray deterrents leave an unpleasant but non-toxic taste on the objects sprayed. This off-putting flavor can help to dissuade your pet from nibbling on forbidden or dangerous items.
Provide Suitable Chewies
The instinct to chew can be fun and rewarding for your dog when appropriate, releasing happy endorphins while also providing some dental benefits. For these reasons, it’s a good idea to provide your dog with tasty snacks that he can gnaw away on. Bully sticks, Himalayan chews and deer antlers are all favorites around here. The size and strength of the chew will vary from breed to breed, as often a bone enjoyed by a smaller dog will make quick work for his larger cousins. Keep in mind that while it was once common to throw a cooked bone to the family pooch, this is actually discouraged now as such bones are prone to splintering which could cause an obstruction and/or internal bleeding.
It’s important to remember that some amount of chewing is considered normal, natural dog behavior. Teaching our dogs what is appropriate to gnaw on is an important part in keeping them healthy and happy.