Dog Training Tips: Excessive Chewing
It’s not uncommon for dogs to enjoy chewing on different objects, regardless of whether or not it’s something they should or shouldn’t be chewing on, all dogs have the natural instinct to chew. Dogs chew on things for different reasons, some of these include: they’re bored, they’re panicking due to separation anxiety, they’re teething, they’re exploring the world around them, they’re hungry, or they just naturally enjoy chewing as a daily activity. It’s our responsibility as their owners to try to figure out why they’re chewing and ensure they have appropriate items for them to chew on. Below is some additional information about how to manage a dog that likes to chew a lot.
- Puppies go through two teething phases, one when their puppy teeth or “milk teeth” start to come in at about 3 weeks old and the second when their adult teeth start to come in at about 3 months old. It’s not uncommon for young dogs up to two years of age to continue to want to chew a lot into their teenage phase even though they are no longer teething.
- Generally speaking, younger dogs have a lot more energy than older dogs so as a result they are much more active and need to be given constructive outlets to burn off all that energy. If they’re not given the appropriate exercise and mental stimulation for their age and breed, young dogs can become very destructive in your home. It’s imperative that you make the time to exercise your young dog, train basic obedience behaviors to your young dog so that they learn some manners, and give them appropriate chew bones and toys. A tired dog is a good dog.
- Always supervise young dogs to ensure they are not chewing on inappropriate objects and to ensure they are not choking and/or ingesting parts of the toys you’ve given them to play with and chew on. Baby gates, crates, or keeping your dog on a leash tied to your belt are all good tools for total supervision until you get to know your dog and his or her chewing habits. Not all dogs can play with the same toys safely so it’s imperative that you monitor your dog when you give them a new toy for the first time. Ingested toys can cause serious life threatening intestinal blockages and the surgery alone to remove the blockage can cost a few thousand dollars at a veterinary office.
- You can ensure that your dog is not chewing on inappropriate objects by keeping your personal items picked up and put away. Also make sure that rooms are safe for your dog and that things like plugged in power cords are out of your dog’s reach. Closing doors to extra rooms like bedrooms and bathrooms will ensure that your dog is not sneaking off and chewing on your things or harming herself. Remind your children that it is their responsibility to keep their items like toys and shoes put away if they don’t want them chewed on by the dog. It’s not uncommon for dogs of any age to want to chew things that smell strongly of their owners like dirty socks, underwear, shoes, etc. so make sure they are out of your dog’s reach.
- If your dog is chewing on an inappropriate item, always redirect their chewing to their dog toys and bones instead of scolding them. Scolding them will not diminish their need to chew and do something mentally stimulating; it will just teach your dog to fear you. Instead teach them what they should be doing by offering them toys or chews that they should chew on. See the list below of toys recommended for excessive chewers.
- If your dog is chewing on larger items that you can’t put away like furniture, you may want to try a taste deterrent spray like bitter apple spray. However, the best option is always going to be supervising your dog when you’re home and then redirecting them to an appropriate toy when they feel the need to chew. If you’re not home to supervise then you may need to crate train your dog or baby gate them in a dog proof room like a kitchen or bathroom. Some people can safely give their dogs toys to chew on while they are away while others cannot because their dog may have a history of ingesting or choking on toys.
- If your dog is excessively chewing when you are not home and is doing things like escaping out of its metal or plastic crate and then chewing up carpets, doors, or the molding around your doors or windows, you most like have a dog that is suffering from separation anxiety and should seek immediate help from your veterinarian and a behaviorist. Please see our separation anxiety handout. Your dog is experiencing extreme mental and emotional distress, akin to a panic attack. Do not continue to try to crate your dog; she may severely injure her body or teeth while trying to escape out of a crate.
- Recommended dog toys for excessive chewers*:
- Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or wet dog food and then frozen
- Himalayan Chews
- Wholesome rolled rawhide bones
- Deer, moose, or elk antlers
- Bull horns
- Bully sticks
- Rope toys
- Tuffy plush toys
- Leather toys
- Red Barn or Merrick marrow bones
*Items above are generally safer if they are made in the USA compared to products shipped in from overseas, particularly animal products such as rawhides and marrow bones. Wayside Waifs does not receive any financial reimbursement for endorsing these products. Wayside Waifs can also not be held liable should your dog have problems while interacting with these toys.