Does your dog have a chewing problem? If so, our Walnut Creek vets can help. Here we discuss some of the common reasons why dogs chew and how you can help them stop them from chewing.
The Psychology of Dogs Dog
Puppies are like people because they like to use their mouths to explore the world and their environments. As a result, they might eat anything they set their eyes on such as papers, shoes, electrical cords, toxic plants, and furniture.
It may surprise you to find out that dogs don’t chew to vex us, they enjoy scents that remind them of their owners, this is why your favorite shoes and sports equipment seem tempting. Dogs also live in the moment, so they won’t be able to connect their destruction to your anger and any discipline you implement.
Common Reasons Why Dogs Chew
Dogs don't chew on off-limit objects to annoy you. There are actually many reasons why they continue chewing, including:
- Lack of training
- To seek attention
- Natural instinct
- To relieve anxiety or fear
Items Your Dog Shouldn't Chew
Since puppies and dogs will often chew on anything they see they can sometimes choose items that are dangerous to their teeth and health such as:
- Items that are too small for them and can easily swallow such as pen or bottle caps
- Rocks or other items that are too hard and can damage their teeth
- Toxic plants such as mistletoe, hemlock, amaryllis, and oleander
- Broken toys or toys that are falling apart
- Toys with small parts that they could accidentally swallow
Instead offer your pooch appropriate toys or chewable items such as soft toys (with nontoxic stuffing), toys that are the appropriate size for your dog, designated dog toys from the pet store.
If you believe your dog has swallowed an item, chewed on something toxic, or has damaged its teeth call your vet immediately as it's considered a veterinary emergency. Your vet will also be able to recommend the best chew toys appropriate for your dog's, age, breed, size, and energy level.
How to Stop Your Dog from Chewing
Since dogs can't comprehend the differences between what's right and what's wrong or connect your discipline and anger to their actions (such as chewing up your shoes), they won’t understand or change their behavior after being punished. So don’t muzzle, scold or spank your pooch. Instead, try the following:
Exercise and Stimulation
A tired puppy or dog is a happy one. Learn your pup’s energy needs and levels and customize their exercise and playtime to match. Use 20 to 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise as a starting point, unless they have a medical condition that prevents this.
Training and Supervision
Puppies need to learn good habits and what not to do, so supervising them closely at home is essential.
Keep Valuables Stored 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.
Don't Reward Behaviors You Don’t Want Your Pup Performing
When your puppy nips your fingers, shriek, pull back and leave the room. 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.
When to See Your Vet and How They Can Help
Thankfully, excessive dog chewing behaviors dwindle by the time they are approximately 18 months old but will probably continue to some degree, depending on your dog’s breed and other factors, for their entire life. If you see your dog continuing to excessively chew, call your veterinarian. They will be able to:
- Check for medical reasons why 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 they have chewed an inappropriate item
- Provide advice and pointers for modifying your dog’s behavior
- Suggest appropriate chew toys, treats, deterrents, or training methods
At Ygnacio Animal Hospital we are able to perform a full health checkup and offer advice on how to solve this frustrating problem.