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Dog Chewing Problems: Why They Chew & How To Stop Them

While chewing can be expected from puppies as their first teeth erupt, older dogs may also be seen gnawing on things they shouldn't. Our vets in Clinton Township discuss why dogs chew and how to curb these chewing problems.

Dog Chewing Problems

If you recently brought a new puppy into your home, you may have realized that anything within their reach is fair game for chewing. This can include anything from paper and smelly old shoes to furniture, electrical cords, toxic plants and, unfortunately, that new purse you just bought.

The good news is that this is never out of spite. Dogs get bored and lonely while you aren't around and will look for ways to entertain themselves. It's a bonus if the object smells like you. Our beloved canine companions also live in the moment, which means they won’t connect their destructive behavior from the afternoon with your anger when you get home from work in the evening.

Why is your dog chewing on everything?

So, if your dog isn't chewing your things out of spite or to get at you, why are they chewing? Below are a few common reasons why destructive chewing behaviors may occur:

    • Their instinct is to chew
    • A way to relieve boredom, anxiety, or fear
    • As a way to seek attention
    • Teething discomfort
    • Lack of training

How to Stop a Dog From Chewing

Now that we've looked at why dogs chew, let's consider ways to help curb this destructive behavior. Below are tips commonly recommended by vets and trainers to help stop a dog's destructive chewing:

Prevent Boredom

Tired dogs make for happy, well-behaved dogs. Match your dog's exercise schedule to their natural energy level. Different breeds require vastly different amounts of exercise to leave them feeling relaxed and contented.  Some breeds are less energetic and only require short walks and playtimes. In contrast, other dogs may need an hour of activity twice daily to stay calm when left alone.

Train Them Well

Good behavior and habits are learned. This means that providing supervision at home and dedicating enough time for training will be vital in developing your dog's good behavior.

Because your pooch will not associate its morning actions with your evening disapproval, it's important to catch it in the act and react immediately with a firm 'no,' then remove the item. You can then give your pup an appropriate chew toy accompanied by a positive 'yes' and many pats when it chews on the correct item.

Dog Proofing

'Dog-proofing' your home is an essential step when bringing home your new puppy or adopted adult dog. This means that your favorite shoes need to be stored in a safe, dog-proofed closet or other space well out of your pup's reach.

Positive Reinforcement

When your puppy nips your fingers, let out a high-pitched puppy-like yelp, pull back, and leave the room. When your dog snatches a valuable item and runs off, quell the urge to chase them (yes, we know how hard this can be). Instead, call your pup to you and offer a treat or toy in exchange for the item being chewed. Tell your dog 'good come' to clarify that you are rewarding the fact that they came when you called rather than a reward for taking the item.

It is also important to teach the command 'drop it.' Begin teaching 'drop it' when your dog has a ball or a toy in their mouth. When your dog obeys your command and drops it, give your dog a treat and lots of praise. There are many helpful training videos online to help you teach this skill.

Objects That Shouldn't be Chewed On 

Some of the things that you shouldn't allow your dog to chew on include:

  • Bones, antlers, and hooves
  • Rawhides
  • Sticks

Objects That Are Safe for Dogs

Some things that are perfectly safe for dogs to chew on are:

  • Soft Chew Toys
  • Rubber Chews like a Kong
  • Treat-Filled Chew Toys
  • Dental Cleaning Chews

Asking Your Vet for Help

Dogs usually grow out of chewing habits by the time they are a year and a half old. Even so, destructive chewing may occur from time to time throughout your dog's lifetime, depending on its breed and other factors.

Contact your vet if you see excessive chewing or your dog chewing on things they shouldn't be. They can:

  • Check for medical reasons your dog might be chewing and provide treatment.
  • Advise whether you should let certain items pass, when your dog needs to come in for an exam, and when you should induce vomiting if he or she has chewed an inappropriate item.
  • Provide advice and pointers for modifying your dog’s behavior.
  • Suggest appropriate chew toys, treats, deterrents or training methods.

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.

Did your dog swallow an object while chewing? If so, contact our vets in Clinton Township right away. Ingestion of foreign objects can lead to life-threatening intestinal blockages.

New Patients Welcome

Snider Veterinary Service is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Clinton Township companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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Contact (586) 286-5684