Are you facing trouble with your dog’s unwanted chewing behavior? Without any further ado, try out these simple yet effective solutions.
Every dog guardian has faces dog chewing problems. At some point or other, they have returned home to find damage inflicted on their furniture, shoes, clothing, or any other item around the house. This is especially prevalent in the case of puppies. Most people attribute unwanted chewing to the puppyhood stages. However, this behavior is also observed in some dogs after they have reached adulthood. Dogs normally use their sense of smell and vision to explore the world. Yet, their favorite way to process new information is putting things into their mouth.
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Puppies chew because they have itchy gums. They tend to put any and everything in their mouth to understand, explore and learn about it. Once the dog reaches the adulthood stage, this behavior normally weans off. However, if your dog is an adult and is still exhibiting unwanted chewing behavior, there may be a few different reasons behind such behavior. Before you start to redirect your dog’s behavior to other items and teach your dog not to chew, you need to understand the reasons behind your dog’s chewing problem.
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Understanding the reasons behind dog chewing problems
As I mentioned above, puppies tend to explore the world around them by putting different objects into their mouth. Just like human babies, puppies teethe for around six months. The teething process causes discomfort in the gums. Puppies try to relieve this discomfort by chewing on any and everything they find. The act of chewing soothes the sore gums of the puppies. However, if your adult dog shows unwanted chewing behavior, there might be several reasons behind this.
The one thing you must understand here is that your dog is not exhibiting such behavior to irritate you, spite you, or even take revenge on you. Your dog is possibly exhibiting such behavior because he or she is under some kind of stress. A few reasons behind dog chewing problems are:
- Your puppy did not learn which item is okay to chew during the childhood stages and which is not.
- During childhood, your dog did not have access to appropriate and safe chew toys
- Your dog is bored.
- Your dog has a huge amount of pent-up energy and is lacking the proper level of exercise.
- Your dog is receiving less mental stimulation than required
- Your dog is fearful and is using chewing as a coping skill to deal with his or her fears
- Your dog is suffering from separation anxiety
- Chewing feels good to your dog.
- Your dog is facing gum problems.
It is a clear-cut sign of separation anxiety if you notice that your dog exhibits unwanted chewing when you are not around. In separation anxiety, the chewing behavior may also be accompanied by whining, barking, or howling behavior. Before you start to redirect your dog’s attention and teach him what not to chew, you must find out if any underlying medical or psychological issues contribute to this behavior. The following articles might help:
If your dog does not have any psychological or medical issues contributing to the unwanted chewing behavior, it is time to train the pup regarding dog chewing problems. Along with your dog, you will also have to make certain lifestyle changes, so it becomes easier for your dog to get acclimatized to the new rules.
Training to deal with dog chewing problems
Take responsibility for your belongings.
If you do not want a specific object to land up in your dog’s mouth, keep it away from your dog. Keep all your shoes, books, eyeglasses, trash, water bottles, plasticware, and anything that your dog loves to chew on at a place where your dog cannot reach. Removing the object from the reach of your dog is the easiest way to prevent your dog from chewing. It will also be a good practice not to provide wrong incentives to your dog while he or she is undergoing the training.
Make sure you give your dog ‘dog’ toys.
A lot of people give empty water bottles for their dogs to play with etc. However, when you teach your dog what is okay to chew and what is not, keep items used in day-to-day activities like water bottles, plastic bowls, etc., away so that your dog learns that those are not chewable items. Do not offer your dog shoes and socks as this will only confuse him, and your dog will not be able to understand which sock is okay to chew and which is not.
Playtimes should specifically be supervised. Alternatively, you can keep your dog on a leash if you are working so that your dog does not get access to any of the items which he or she should not chew. However, I am not a fan of keeping your dog on a leash in the house. I would instead suggest to have a safe room for your pup. In the safe room, there should be no article that your dog can chew and destroy. Have a fresh, clean bowl of water and dog toys in that room.
You can keep your dog in that room if you run errands or have to complete work. If your dog is crate trained, your dog can be in the crate for a while. However, the crate should never become a negative space for your dog. Create training must be done properly so that your dog enjoys staying in the crate. Alternatively, you can also use baby gates and an exercise pen to keep your dog away from items he or she should not chew.
Give your dog plenty of mental and physical exercise.
Dogs are high-energy beings. If your dog does not receive his or her proper dose of mental and physical exercise, there will be pent-up energy in your dog. Dogs normally release such pent-up energy either by doing zoomies around the house or chewing items they should not. If your dog is tired after a walk, you have done right by him or her. Only physical exercise is not enough for dogs. Dogs must get mental stimulation daily. This keeps their mind sharp for a longer period and prevents the early onset of dementia. The level of exercise your dog will need will depend on his or her breed, health, and age. Outdoor walks and games must be a part of your dog’s daily routine. Apart from this, your dog should also engage in mental stimulation activities like training commands, treasure hunts, puzzle toys, etc.
Add toys to the daily routine.
Instead of giving your dog food in his or her bowl, give your dog the food in a puzzle toy or find-the-treat type toy. Use high-value treats so that your dog does not lose interest in finding the treasure. Make sure that you switch toys every few days. This way, your dog will be more engaged in the toy.
If you see your dog is chewing on something, trade the item
If you notice your dog chewing on something, trade the item for another high-value item. For example, if your pup is chewing on your sock, offer your dog some chicken to leave the sock and go for chicken. Eventually, you can introduce the command ‘give’ to ensure that the dog drops the item before taking the enticing treats from your hand. Removing items from your dog’s mouth by your hand is not a good idea. This can cause injury to you and will never teach your dog how to listen to your instructions and understand commands.
For teething puppies
If your puppy is teething, you can use a cold rubber Kong, or you can freeze a rubber toy. Make sure that your puppy is supervised when he or she is chewing on the toys. This is essential so that you know that the puppy is not hurting his or her gums or does not end up swallowing any of the pieces of the toy.
Make the item unpleasant.
Items like furniture, desks, tables, dining chairs, etc., can be coated with dog deterrent sprays like bitter apple, etc., to make the fragrance of such items unappealing.
However, you must be very cautious and supervise your dog despite spraying the furniture. Some dogs are so resilient that they will try to chew even if a horrid smell comes from the furniture. You must remember that the deterrent spray needs to be reapplied later to keep the effectiveness constant.
If your dog grabs an object and runs, do not chase him or her.
Dogs are natural-born hunters. If you chase your dog when he or she is running with something in the mouth, your dog will consider it as a game and will start to run further. For dogs, being chased by humans is a game period thus, do not chase your dog. Stand at one place and call your dog. When your dog comes to you, offer a treat in exchange for the item in your dog’s mouth.
Be realistic about your expectations.
There is no dog guardian who has not had their dogs chew up something or the other of value. This is a part of your dog’s growth stages and his or her transition into the new home. It may require your dog a while to learn which are the appropriate toys, what is okay to chew, what behaviors make you unhappy etc. However, for the time being, keep the items that your dog can chew and hurt himself away from your dog’s reach.
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Punishment is never the solution to solving your dog’s behavioral problems. It does not matter what kind of problem your dog is facing. If you start using punishment, you are not a good dog guardian. The first part of solving a dog’s behavioral problem is understanding why the behavioral problem is occurring in the first place. If you eliminate the root cause of the behavioral problem, the problem will automatically go away. However, most dog guardians do not bother to spend time understanding the problem itself. They just go to the punishment stage.
Punishment will only make your dog fearful and aggressive towards you; it will never stop the dog chewing problems. Thus, always use positive reinforcement methods for training your dog. Building a trusting and positive relationship with your dog is the only way to bond and have a happy and healthy life together.
Always try to find out the causes behind the abnormal behavior of your pup before you decide on the remedial measures. Their is always a chance of physical and psychological issues behind the common dog behavioral issues. Once the psychological and physical causes have been rules out, you can focus on the re-training part.
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