Destructive chewing in Puppies and Dogs
Many dog owners will testify that a majority of dogs will chew through something they shouldn’t at some point. It is a natural instinct for a puppy to chew as it is his way of exploring his world. Even if the tasty morsel happens to be your most expensive shoes in the closet
Chewing is natural, and even when your puppy is fully grown, he may still get the urge to chew things. This chewing may be the result of the fact that dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell and hearing to explore, and the fact they enjoy playing with new things using their mouths.
Most dogs will often chew an object such as a sock, slipper or shoe once in a while, especially if it is nice and smelly. At the same time, others will exhibit a form of inappropriate behaviour known as destructive chewing that can frequently occur.
Chewing as a Puppy
The complexity of a dog’s psychology is too detailed to try and sum up in a one-off article. However, we can try and understand some of the psychological reasons behind destructive chewing. Destructive chewing is often a source of high stress for some dog owners as a dog that is a destructive chewer usually does so on a frequent basis.
When researching into the psychology of why a dog may destructively chew, it is essential to note what is normal for a young dog. Chewing in young dogs, especially puppies, is often expected, especially when they are teething. To a teething puppy, chewing helps to soothe sore gums.
The lessons a dog learns when it is a puppy will become ingrained in its behaviour for the rest of its life. With this mind, the puppy must learn from an early age that it cannot chew anything it desires.
How do I get my dog to stop chewing up the furniture?
When your puppy is teething, it is safe to presume it is experiencing some pain. The chewing is satiating to them and can be soothing to their gums. Trying giving them a cold carrot to chew on, make sure you give it to them outside it can get quite messy. Also, chicken broth frozen into ice cubes will relieve some of the discomforts in their gums.
Mature dogs usually chew out of boredom and stress. Exercise is the best way to release tension. You can divert their attention on to something more exciting then your dining table leg.
Boredom is the enemy and plays a big part in making a dog start destructive chewing. Therefore an owner must ensure their dog gets plenty of exercise as well as lots of mental stimulation. This stimulation should be in the form of training, playing and socialising with other dogs and humans.
Some dogs will find it difficult to express themselves at the best of times. So, when there is a communication breakdown between dog and owner, the dog will seek other ways to communicate. Destructive chewing is often the result, especially if he feels he’s not getting enough attention either. When a dog feels he’s not getting enough attention or that he’s finding it challenging to communicate with his owner, bad habits will start to emerge. The dog may chew objects that it knows it is not allowed to get the desired amount of interaction, even if that interaction is in the form of a ‘telling-off’.
Destructive chewing in puppies and dogs: the dangers
A destructive chewing puppy isn’t fussy what it chews and wrecks and can shred soft, latex toys. If the toy includes a squeaking mechanism, the squeaker can be easily swallowed or cause choking. Sticks and bones can splinter and cause choking or vomiting, or they can perforate the mouth, throat or intestine. Hard bones can easily damage teeth. Instead, use hard, non-splintering chew toys to play fetch or to allow your pet to gnaw.
Towels, socks, underwear and other similar clothing or materials can be swallowed by a rambunctious pet, causing intestinal obstruction.
Some dogs like to chew on or eat rocks-bad idea! Rocks can cause broken teeth and severe intestinal obstruction if swallowed.
Be aware of the dangers
Be careful when you offer your pet rawhide, as these can cause intestinal obstruction if swallowed, and some will contain an arsenic preservative, which is toxic to pets. Also be aware of sharp objects that can cut skin, feet, eyes or ears.
Paint and wood preservatives can also be toxic to your furry friend, so take care.
Tips to Prevent Destructive Chewing
To prevent destructive chewing in puppies and dogs while you’re away, you’ll need to take some measures to restrict your puppy’s access to anything chewable. When leaving home, confine your puppy to a long-term confinement area, such as a single room—your puppy’s playroom—with a comfortable bed (preferably a none chewable one or a dog-crate) Make sure they have access to a bowl of water, a doggy toilet (if not yet house-trained), and nothing to chew but half a dozen freshly-stuffed chew toys.
House-trained adult dogs may be confined (with their chew toys) to a dog crate. When you return, ask your dog to fetch his chew toys so you can remove the freeze-dried liver pieces and give them to your dog.
Your dog will happily settle down and entertain himself with his chew toys as soon as you leave in the morning, and he will be more inclined to search for chew toys when he wakes up in anticipation of your afternoon return. Doing this is vital since most chewing activity occurs right after you leave home and directly before you return.
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When you are home, confine your puppy to her doggy den or crate. Leave her nothing but a freshly-stuffed chew toy for entertainment. Visit your puppy at least every hour on the hour to take your puppy to its doggy toileting. For older house-trained adult dogs, you can lengthen the intervals times.
When your puppy has a pee, give it praise by word and touch. Have a little play and return the puppy to crate or den with a stuffed chew toy.
The purpose of this exercise is to prevent your dog from becoming a destructive chewer and increase the likelihood your dog will develop a chew toy habit.
Redirect Chewing to Chew toys
The confinement schedule described above optimises self-training, and your dog will train herself to chew toys. Soon your dog will start to prefer a chew toy to a hard table leg or your best handbag. Your dog will be less likely to develop into an excessive or recreational barker. And also, your dog will happily settle down calmly and quietly and will no longer be bored or suffer from separation anxiety when left alone.
Canine Separation Anxiety
A common cause of destructive chewing in puppies is when he becomes overdependent on the owner, known as canine separation anxiety. The dog is unable to be apart from its owner without becoming overly anxious, resulting in destructive behaviour.
Excluding excessive barking, destructive chewing is the most common result of canine separation anxiety. Items that the dogs chew when suffering from canine separation anxiety will often smell of their owners. These items will include shoes, underwear and socks. To alleviate the stress a dog is feeling when left alone he will find the smell is comforting.
The crux of destructive chewing hinges on the ability of an owner to understand his/her dog.
Dogs are forever trying to please us and understand what it is we are asking them to do. But, we as humans often let them down by not paying enough attention to our dogs. Without understanding your dog and how it reacts to certain situations you’ll find training progress is slow. Find out how your dog ticks, what he likes, things he fears and above all what makes him happy. Then you can begin to turn a rookie puppy into a confident and loyal companion.