Correcting the behavior of dogs that compulsively chew
Getting home from a long day at work only to find your hard-earned possessions are now dog eared and in a state beyond repair is far from ideal. And more times than not, you don’t have to go far to find the culprit. A wagging tail and a happy face will be waiting to greet you.
Dogs love chewing things, for a variety of reasons, which we’ll explore in greater detail below.
Stick around as we unpack this decidedly common but vexing part of life with a furry friend.
Why do dogs chew?
The most obvious answer is they simply enjoy doing it. It’s a fun activity that passes the time and enables them to work out some of their energy. Always make sure a dog has a bone and a place to sleep so that it can work its jaw over in comfort.
If the above is in place and the problem still persists, there are a few possible causes.
One, the dog is stressed or bored. Is the chewing only happening when you’re out of the house? That’s a sure sign that your departure is leaving them feeling idle or anxious.
Make sure the dog is confined to an area of the house where things cannot easily be found to chew on. Kitchens are normally a good bet. Leave them with a chewing toy. If the problem persists, buy a kennel crate and shut the kennel door when you’re out of the house. Repeat this for a week or two, giving them a bone to nibble on, but not accepting any other kind of chewing. When you leave the house, do it without ceremony. Making a big deal of your exit each and every day only adds to your dog’s stress.
Next, make the chewing toy the centre of attention when you’re home. Have your dog play games with it while you’re involved. With luck, by honing in on this object, you’ll remove the temptation for the dog to explore other diversions.
Your dog might also be chewing because it’s teething. Is it between 3 and 6 months old? If so, its teeth are likely developing and it’s using the destructive habit to relieve pain. In these cases, make sure a chewing toy is handy.
Exercise is all-important
An exercise routine is crucial for a number of reasons.
One, dogs crave routine, and knowing when and how much exercise they’re going to get gives them peace of mind and suppresses antisocial tendencies.
Second, dogs need exercise to relieve their aggression and natural playfulness. This is all-important for their mental wellbeing.
Third, it stimulates them. Dogs want to explore the environment around them and when they can’t do that they naturally gravitate towards objects in their immediate vicinity that can fill that void for them.
Not every dog is chewing to be destructive
Without hands, dogs don’t have the luxury of ’feeling’ things. Instead, they rely on their mouths in lieu of their paws to get a sense of something’s appearance and shape and texture. A little bit of chewing, then, is to be expected. No dog is ever going to be completely docile. This is, after all, a living, breathing animal.
With a kennel crate in your arsenal, an exercise routine in place, and chewable toys/bones at your disposal, you should be able to correct this behavior in no time at all.
If the problem persists consult a professional as there may be a more serious, underlying problem at work. At all times, remain calm, as anger only excites a dog more. A calm approach to these situations is always best, as it helps you to stay in control, and to impart the message you want without exciting the dog further.