My dog chews destructively, what do I do?
Dogs chew and it is absolutely normal behaviour. During puppyhood, dogs explore new things by chewing them, which also helps to relieve the pain in their gums as new teeth break through. Therefore, we don’t want our dogs to stop this natural behaviour but what we do want, is to redirect them towards objects which are acceptable to chew. In fact, chewing the right thing can clean and strengthen their teeth and equally as importantly, provide a mental challenge. Dogs find the action of chewing calming.
However, chewing the wrong things can be dangerous for our best friend. They can break things into pieces small enough to swallow and they can bite through electric wires or power cords. Remember, dogs have 42 teeth — 10 more than humans — with much sharper ones in front and powerful molars in the back that are capable of snapping a bone in two.
How to deal with your pup’s unwanted chewing?
Give them safe chew toys or consult your vet about edible objects like bones, rawhide, or other chews. You also need to ensure that plastic and rubber toys are big enough so that your dog can’t swallow them. When you see your dog engaging in unwanted chewing, don’t try to pull the object away from him if he doesn’t drop it. Instead, try to redirect his attention to a more appropriate item, like a chew toy.
Once your dog has dropped the object, it is important for you to claim it as your own. Use your body language to make it clear that there’s a connection between you and the object. You can pick up the object and hold it close to your body.
If you have an adult dog that chews on things, it may be a habit that they have formed from the time they were puppies and teething. It is also something that engages their minds. But what should you do if you come home to find that your dog has chewed your expensive pair of shoes?
Remember that your dog’s short-term memory can be less than a couple of minutes and that means when you get home, it will do no good to discipline the dog or to lose your temper and start yelling. Your dog does not remember what has happened and does not understand why you are yelling.
Unless you catch him in the act, he’ll have no idea what you’re upset about. In fact, getting upset could even make matters worse, because your dog will become nervous and one of the ways dogs calm their nerves is by chewing.
You need to understand that destructive chewing can be a sign of expressing anxiety when dogs are left alone. It may look funny when you come home and realise your dog has chewed your furniture, but believe me that for the dog, it is not funny and is in fact rather painful. Unwanted chewing in your presence might also be a sign of boredom.
How to deal with your adult dog’s destructive chewing?
The most important thing to do is to provide your dog with ample exercise to drain his excess energy. Take your dog for a long walk. There is no substitute for a walk; playing is not walking and running around in the park is not walking. The walk has a lot of meaning for the dog and not only is it a healthy physical activity, but it also provides mental stimulation.
If you come home and your dog is not yet tired, it simply means that you have to walk him for longer. Simple! If you have a high energy dog, try a dog backpack. It is a great tool to drain his energy and it also gives him purpose.
Avoid calming medicine as I am confident that a dog can grow out of this habit through providing the right exercise for his body and mind. Calming medicine is never a substitute for a natural way of calming which is instinctual to your dog.