Destructiveness or Teething: Diagnosing Your Dogs Excessive Chewing
There’s nothing more disappointing than walking in the house and seeing your favorite pair of shoes somewhere they shouldn’t be – in your dog’s mouth. Hopefully, this is the only item the dog got a hold of while you were away. Your first instinct might be to discipline your dog, but before you do that, it’s important for you to understand why your dog is chewing on things in the first place.
While all dogs and puppies go through chewing phases, it’s important for pet owners to remember that this behavior is, in fact, natural. Chewing help dogs clean their teeth and keep their gums healthy, and is also a way to relieve stress, anxiety, and frustration – like a therapy session. Nonetheless, chewing the wrong household items can be extremely harmful to the dog and result in chipped teeth, infected gums, or blockage in the windpipe, stopping them from breathing.
So, “Why does my dog chew on everything in sight?” is a great question that doesn’t necessarily have a black and white answer. But if you’re tired of finding your shoes covered in saliva and picking up pieces of fabric, sit back, relax, and consider the following problems your furry friend could be going through:
When it comes to dogs and their bad habits, most complaints from pet owners occurs when the animal is left in the house alone. Experts have labeled this behavior as separation anxiety. Dogs don’t understand why their owners leave the house all day to go to work, they just know it makes them sad.
If this is the case, dogs might urinate, bark, pace the area, and of course, chew on anything they see to help fill that void. How do you know if your dog is chewing on household objects because they’re upset?
Look for signs and symptoms. Separation anxiety, for instance, is usually triggered when the animal becomes distraught, nervous, or scared whenever they’re left alone and away from their guardians – the people they’re closest with and attach themselves to. When treating a dog that suffers from separation anxiety, the main goal is to resolve the overall issue by teaching the dog to enjoy – or at least tolerate – being left alone without chewing on everything. This, however, can only be accomplished by creating an environment that doesn’t provoke their fear of being alone.
One technique owners can try is redirecting their chewing from shoes and household objects to other alternatives. If you see your dog searching for a pillow or shoes for that matter, bring out their favorite toy to play with. That way, you’re incorporating exercise, playtime, and most importantly, preventing them from damaging objects around the house. During this time, make sure you reward them for their behavior. On the flip side, you must also make sure you aren’t inadvertently praising them for the wrong behavior. Tricky right?
Dogs are like people in some ways and like babies, dogs sometime bite on household items as a way to signal hunger. This means that if your dog is on a strict calorie diet, they’ll purposely chew and destroy objects around the house to find additional food sources. However, by setting regular meal times, you can slowly train your dog to expect their food at a scheduled time throughout the day. As a general rule, you shouldn’t give your dog any food immediately after biting. In doing so, you’ll indirectly reward their behavior and biting to instant gratification.
Change in Routine
A dog’s mouth works like a human’s hand. It’s simply their preferred way to explore new environments. This means that your dog will examine items – inside the house and out – by chewing and tasting it. But in order to determine whether or not your dog has a chewing problem, you must first examine why they’re conducting this behavior.
If the dog is a puppy or a young adult that’s just walking around the house chewing on whatever fits in their mouth, then it’s likely that the dog simply wants to play and investigate the world around them. Teething can also be another solution to this behavior. Whatever the case may be, determining the cause of your dog’s excessive chewing habit is vital when it comes to developing a treatment strategy.
For instance, if you’ve recently moved from one neighborhood to the next, this could be your dog’s way of showing their frustration. Although moving for humans can be quite an ordeal, for pets, moving can be straight up terrifying. In other words, they’re forced to adapt to a new environment without any warning whatsoever.
Another reason dogs might misbehave could have something to do with their guardian’s lack of involvement. If you have a hectic schedule on the day-to-day basis and hardly spend any time at home, your furry friend could feel neglected. What should you do in this case? It’s simple, make time for them. Make walking or running your dog part of your daily routine. Not only will it keep your animal happy, it will also help you prioritize a healthy lifestyle even on the business of days. Thanks pupper!
Ways to Encourage Proper Chewing
Before considering what inappropriate chewing might look like, pet owners must first know what appropriate chewing looks like. First, grab a handful toys with a variety of different tastes, textures, and odors to help determine what appeals most to the dog. Once the dog has decided on a toy, coat it with small slices of cheese or peanut butter to increase their desirability. Although most toys are made of plastic, nylon, and rubber, dog products that can be torn apart are perhaps the most durable for this experiment.
In order for this technique to work, however, dogs must be encouraged and rewarded for playing with their toys. This will then discourage them from chewing on household objects. If for whatever reason you’re unable to monitor your dog, you should do you best to prevent them from having access to any of your personal items. It’s true, playtime and chew toys are beneficial for most pets, but additional activities like interactive learning, doggy daycare, and self-feeders can also keep pets occupied.
H. Davis loves being active and finds any reason to go outside and play with dog, Blitz. If you can’t find him online, you might be able to him at the dog park, or cheering on his favorite football team (Go Broncos!). Be sure to follow him on Twitter at @Davis241. Thanks!