Dealing With a Dog’s Destructive Chewing
By Leah Presser
It is one of life’s greatest joys to know the love and companionship of a dog. They follow you around with deep admiration in their eyes. They get excited when you come home. A lick on the face and the wagging of their tail confirms that you are everything good in the world to them. Such a simple and complete love.
At times, however, living with a dog can also be one of life’s greatest frustrations. Dogs chew. It’s instinctive to their nature, and until you teach them otherwise, they see no difference between your couch and a chew toy. To them, it all looks like fair game for a chew session.
There are several reasons a dog will chew. You have to understand first why he’s chewing before you can determine how best to handle it. A young dog will chew to relieve the pain caused by incoming teeth. This teething phase is usually complete by the age of six months.
But your dog’s chewing behavior will not necessarily end once your dog passes the age of six months. A dog’s mouth and whiskers are, for all intents and purposes, his hands and fingers. He will use them to explore and understand the world around him. He must have some way to find out what tastes good, what stings, and what bites back.
You can use deterrent sprays on objects you do not want your dog to chew, but it cannot be your sole means of addressing destructive chewing. Your dog will also need to learn what it is okay to chew. When you catch him chewing something he is not allowed to chew, intervene with a sharp “no” and give him a bone, rawhide or toy that his is allowed to chew. Then praise him. Eventually he will make the connection that it is okay to choose some things, but not others.
Adult dogs instinctively chew to keep their teeth clean and jaws strong. But sometimes, chewing can become excessive. Some of the top reasons for excessive chewing in dogs are:
Lack of exercise
Many dogs will chew excessively when they are bored or have pent up energy. The quickest and most effective defense against chewing from boredom is to give them plenty of exercise. Get outside and take long walks. Let them enjoy playtime with other dogs. Keep your dog’s mind engaged through training exercises. Playing fetch and tug with him will help burn off excess energy.
Chewing can be a sign of separation anxiety. One of the best ways to help deal with it is to make sure your dog has plenty of chew toys, bones or rawhide available to him whenever you must leave him. Additional tips to help separation anxiety are available on Cesar Millan’s website.
We might wish otherwise, but sometimes we must leave our dogs at home for extended periods of time. At least until you get his destructive chewing under control, use a crate or confine him to a small area like a bedroom when you leave. The laundry room is not recommended because there are too many tempting smells to try to taste in there.
Whether he’s home alone or you are with him, make sure any shoes and clothing are put away. Shut the closet and bathroom doors. And, most importantly, give him things that he is allowed to chew. You can find many great toys and treats online. By reading buyer reviews, you can determine which toys stand up to aggressive chewing.
Do not give your dog cooked bones or any bones from fowl, such as chicken. These bones are dangerous. They have tendency to splinter, which can cause harm to your dog’s mouth, throat and entire digestive system.
If your dog is eating strange things and nothing you do works to divert his behavior, see your vet. He may be suffering from a nutritional deficiency or a gastrointestinal issue.
If you take care of your dog by giving him lots of exercise and long-lasting, durable toys to chew, you will spend many more of your days enjoying his love and adoration rather than suffering through the frustration of inappropriate chewing.
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