How to Get Your Dog to Stop Their Destructive Chewing

by Katherine Cheshire April 10, 2018

Almost every dog owner has to deal with training their dog to only chew the appropriate items.

Although common in puppies, some adult dogs will also have the tendency to compulsively chew if they were not trained.

That’s why you should start your dog’s training as early as possible. Don’t worry however, there are sections on teaching both puppies and older dogs to curb the habit.

In order to really gather success with training (no matter the case), is to have as much patience as possible.

That’s why it’s important to understand that they don’t mean to cause destruction with their chewing, it’s a basic instinct.

Understand Why Your Dog Is Chewing

Puppies

Teething in your puppy starts around when th 3 – 6 weeks old. They have 2 sets of teeth in their lifetime, just like us.

They develop a total of 28 baby teeth that begin to fall out around 4 months of age where they are then replaced by their set of permanent adult teeth.

The molars are last to come in and develop resulting in an adult teething phase that usually lasts around 2 months, with a ending total of 42 teeth.

(Depending on the breed, this number may vary. Consult your veterinarian if you’re unsure.) The entirety of the teething process lasts an average of 6 months. 

During the teething process, dogs will encounter gum pain just like babies do. To help alleviate this pain and discomfort, many dogs will have the need to chew on something.

Just like babies have teething toys, it’s important for your dog to have some toys too to discourage destructive behavior and allow for a healthy outlet during the process.

Adult Dogs

For adult dogs, a chewing problem can be for any number of reasons.

  • Lack of training as a puppy – Not all dogs were trained properly when young, sometimes older dogs just have developed a bad habit of chewing in general.
  • Boredom – Adult dogs often chew for fun to relieve boredom. Chewing or tearing things up can also be considered as displacement behavior. This behavior is done to release stress and or extra energy they may have.
  • Separation anxiety – All dogs have a pack mentality and many will suffer from feelings of social isolation when left on their own. Fear, loneliness, and the stress of having to be on his own will culminate into destructive chewing.
  • Stress-based behavior – When dealing with rescue dogs coming from a bad environment, chewing may be a fear response behavior to help them cope. Patience, care, and understanding are vital when training any dog, especially ones who have been rescued.
  • Seeking attention- Some dogs may chew up objects they shouldn’t if they are seeking attention. Make sure when undertaking the responsibility of owning a dog that you have enough time to properly take care of them and develop a healthy relationship together.  

How Can I Tell If It’s an Anxiety Issue or Boredom?

Now that you know what the causes of chewing are, here’s some information on how to help diagnose the problem. As always when taking your dog for checkups, be sure to consult with them for the most accurate information.

Boredom

When trying to diagnose the reason for the destructive chewing, try leaving the house for only about 10-20 minutes. Upon returning home, if your dog hasn’t destructively chewed anything, then the cause of his chewing behavior would be more out of boredom than anxiety.

If that’s the case, make sure you allot more time in your schedule to spend more time physically and mentally stimulating them. Physical exercise for your dog is a necessity to keep them in shape and burn off excess energy.

Combine physical exercise with mentally stimulating activities to keep them occupied while you’re away. Utilizing toys filled with their favorite treats or even putting their kibble in can keep them busy for hours.

Bones are especially a good choice to keep their mouth occupied since they change shape over time (developing grooves) as the dog chews, making the bone more interesting to focus on for longer periods of time.

Give your dog plenty of people-time. Your dog won’t know how to behave if you don’t teach them alternatives to inappropriate behavior, and they can’t learn these when they are in the yard by themself.

Give your dog plenty of physical and mental exercise. If your dog is bored, they’ll find something to do to amuse themselves and you probably won’t like the choices they make. On the other hand, a tired dog is a good dog, so make sure they get lots of physical and mental activity. The amount of exercise should be based on their age, health and breed characteristics.

If you catch your dog chewing on something they shouldn’t, interrupt the behavior with a loud noise. Offer them an acceptable chew toy instead, and praise them lavishly when they take the toy in their mouth.

Anxiety

All dogs have a pack mentality and many will suffer from feelings of social isolation; when left on their own. Having their pack mentality means they feel safer among others. A solution to an anxious dog left at home alone would be crate training them.

Dogs like having a safe and and secure spot to rest in. If done right, their crate will be thought of as their den through positive interactions. That means don’t use the crate/kennel as a punishment technique, only in positive ways. Your dog should feel secure in their kennel to help minimize anxiety.

Fill the crate with blankets and toys to chew on, if your dog has particularly bad separation anxiety maybe include an old item of clothing as well. Your scent is attached to the clothing and because of its familiarity, your dog will feel more at ease.

You can also provide a meat-scented rawhide or bone for them to chew on. When playing use this toy with them, as your scent along with the toy’s will make the toy more appealing to chew on.

Your goal is to help minimize their stress and fear while they’re alone in the crate.

Sources:

http://www.canismajor.com/dog/teeth.html

 

 




Katherine Cheshire
Katherine Cheshire

Author




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