Are you wondering about how to address your dog's chewing problems for good. Here, our Grayson vets explain how to help your dog develop better habts around compulsively chewing.
Dog Psychology 101
Our dog's brains work somewhat similarly to human babies in that they use their mouths to explore their world. This can sometimes lead to them eating pretty well everything in sight, from paper and old shoes to furniture electrical cords and plants.
It might surprise you to learn that dogs don’t chew to spite us, but they love scents that remind them of their owners, which is why your shoes and sports equipment prove tempting. They also live in the moment, so won’t connect their destruction with your anger and any subsequent discipline.
Reasons Your Dog Chews
Believe it or not, your dog doesn't chew just to annoy you or make you nervous about their health. There are lots of possible reasons for this behavior, including:
- Natural instinct
- To relieve anxiety or fear
- To seek attention
- Lack of training
How to Stop a Dog from Chewing
Since our dogs don't really understand right and wrong, and often can't connect anger or the ways you try to discipline them to what they actually did, they won't be able to understand or change their behavior effectively after being punished. So, make sure you don't spank, muzzle or scold them in response to undesirable actions or behaviors.
Exercise and stimulation
A tired puppy or dog is a happy one. Learn your pooch’s energy levels and needs and tailor exercise and playtime to him. Use 20 to 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise as a benchmark, unless they have a medical problem that prevents this.
Training and supervision
Dogs need to learn good habits early as alternatively to undesirable behaviors, so make sure you keep them closely supervised while at home.
Keep valuables tucked away
“Dog-proof” your home. Got some new Valentino pumps or golf shoes you’d rather keep free of your dog’s chompers? Put them in a place they can’t reach.
Do not reward the behavior you don’t want to continue
When a puppy nips at your finger you can shriek, pull back and leave the room. This mimics the usual dog reaction to being bitten or hurt and will help your puppy understand that they shouldn't do what they just did.
When your dog snatches a valuable item and runs off, quell the urge to chase him. Instead, call him to you and offer a treat or toy in exchange for the item being chewed.
How your vet can help
Fortunately, excessive dog chewing behavior dwindles by around 18 months of age for most, but will likely continue to some degree, depending on your dog’s breed and other factors, for their entire life. If you see excessive chewing, consult your veterinarian. They can:
- Check for medical reasons your dog might be chewing and provide treatment
- Suggest appropriate chew toys, treats, deterrents or training methods
- Provide advice and pointers for modifying your dog’s behavior
- 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
At All Creatures Veterinary Care we can perform a full health checkup and provide advice on how to solve this frustrating problem.