Causes of Destructive Dog Chewing
All dogs, from their puppy days to their senior years chew on objects to explore their environment. When puppies chew it could be their way of getting some relief from their teething pain, whereas adult dogs may chew to keep their teeth clean and jaws strong.
On the other hand, while chewing is normally a healthy behavior for dogs, there are situations where a dog might chew excessively or destroy your stuff.
Stress & Anxiety
Dogs are very social animals which is why lots of them can experience separation anxiety when their owners aren't home. Dogs who suffer from stress or anxiety may resort to chewing to help make themselves more comfortable.
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 discomforts.
Is your pup on a calorie-restricted diet? If so, they may start chewing on objects to get more nutrition. When does begin chewing out of hunger, their attention will usually be focused on items that are food-related or smells like food, such as plastic bowls.
How to Stop Your Dog from Chewing Everything
To stop your dog's chewing you first need to determine the reason why your dog is chewing (like the causes above) and solve the problem. Then, you have to redirect your pup's chewing to more preferable items, like chew toys.
Make Sure Your Dog is Getting Enough Exercise
Making sure your pup gets lots of exercise before you leave the house is one of the best things you can do to curb destructive chewing. A tired dog is a happy dog! High energy breeds such as German Shepherds, Border Collies, Brittanys, 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.
If your dog has to be left alone for long periods of time, but they experience boredom or separation anxiety, you can help reduce these behaviors by training your dog to associate alone time with positive experiences. Each time you have to leave your dog alone, give them a puzzle toy that's filled with food, and lots of fun, special toys they only get to play with when you are gone (to keep this novelty).
Giving your four-legged friend lots of interesting toys won't just establish a positive association with being alone, but can also act as a distraction from the items you don't want them chewing on and prevent boredom.
Dog Proof Your Home
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
Have you attempted other solutions but nothing seems to be working? You might want to spray objects you don't want your dog chewing on with a dog deterrent spray. If you catch your pup chewing on something they aren't supposed to say "no" take it away and replace it with an appropriate chew toy. And give your pooch lots of praise when they chew on the appropriate item instead.
Ways Your Vet Can Help
Thankfully, if your puppy is excessively chewing these behaviors should start dwindling when they are approximately 18 months old, but will probably continue to some degree, depending on their breed and various other factors, for the rest of their life.
If your dog is excessively chewing call your veterinarian, they can help by:
- Suggesting appropriate chew toys, treats, deterrents, or training methods
- Checking for medical reasons your dog might be chewing and providing treatment
- Providing advice and pointers for modifying your dog’s behavior
- Advising 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
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.