Chewing is a natural behaviour in dogs, especially in puppies when they are teething. They like to explore their world by placing things in their mouths. It relieves boredom and stress.
Some owners believe their puppy has chewed an item out of spite. Although they are smart they don’t think like this. Here are a few reasons why a pup will chew:
- They are bored
- They are teething and chewing helps relieve the pain
- They are stressed which chewing helps to relieve
- They love to chew and anything will do!
- They may have a nutritional deficiency or intestinal parasite. Talk to your vet and consider carefully what you are feeding and do some research on the best food for your pup. For more information check out www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk
- They are in need of more attention. This is where they are really smart and learn from consequences and chance. The moment they pick something up they are testing our reaction and if we panic or take it off them they learn very quickly, this is the best way to get our attention.
So how can we prevent inappropriate chewing?
Remove all the things you don’t wish for your puppy to ruin. If it’s not available to them they won’t be able to chew it. This is a great way to encourage the family to tidy their things away! It’s not forever, just whilst your puppy is going through the teething stage. Set your pup up for success and if they get hold of something they shouldn’t have, who’s fault is it? Yours or your puppy’s?
It’s a given fact that dogs love to chew, so why not give them appropriate things to gnaw on? This doesn’t mean toys but proper, edible chews.
Here are a few items you can safely give your pup or dog to relieve teething pain, stress and boredom:
Cold carrots – from the fridge or freezer
Antos chews – frogs, hedgehogs, rice bones, chewbrush
Cow’s, goats, deer, rabbit ears
Pure Venison Sticks
Sweet Potato Chews
Fish Deli Twists
Please avoid Rawhide. They are dangerous and nasty chew items that are not good for your dog.
No Food Bowl Challenge
If you take their food and use it in interactive toys it offers mental stimulation and prevents boredom. There are lots of toys on the market like Wobblers and Pyramids, Nina Ottosson Toys, Buster Cubes, Treat balls etc.
If you are a raw feeder you can still offer mental stimulation. Just by offering carcasses, wings, ribs and necks they will have their work cut out but you can also throw peas, grated carrot or cheese on to the lawn for them to sniff. Mince can always be stuffed into Kongs.
If you can’t trust your pup to be alone in a room without chewing something inappropriately he needs to be confined to a safe area or crate when you can’t supervise him. Don’t set them up to fail. The more practice your pup gets at chewing inappropriate things it gets harder to change the unwanted (natural) behaviour.
Mistakes will happen and your pup will get hold of something inappropriately. If your pup does have something he isn’t supposed to have and you walk up to him and take it away you will become a thief which will result in your pup either 1) playing Catch Me if You Can, 2) guarding it or 3) swallowing it really quickly which can be incredibly dangerous.
If your pup picks something up he isn’t supposed to have don’t chase your pup or walk straight over to him and snatch it off him. Pick up one of his toys and start to play with it, he should come over and investigate what you are doing. If he drops the inappropriate item keep playing with the toy and slyly remove the inappropriate object and place somewhere where he cannot reach it again.
Alternatively take a handful of food and stand a short distance away from your pup. Start placing the food on the floor counting each individual piece as you do so. Your dog should become intrigued by what you are doing. As your dog comes over, let him eat the food and walk to a different area and do the exact same. Each time you get closer to the item but remain calm and when you do pick the inappropriate item up do so in a relaxed manner so as not to make a fuss about it.
Prediction is a good tool to have in your toolbox too. If you think your puppy is looking bored or may start trying to get your attention then give him something to do or give him an appropriate chew! Prevention is better than cure!
If you would like some ideas of what to put in your Kong please go to the Resources page and download the free Kong Help Sheet – Get Stuffed.
If you are worried about your dog’s chewing habits please email me firstname.lastname@example.org for further help and advice.