By Courtney Emken
co-written by Bart Emken, CPDT-KA, Jen Larson, KPA-CTP, and Amanda Ott
Dogs like to chew everything from puzzle toys, our favorite shoes, and even their own paw pads! Chewing is a natural pastime for dogs, and can be an extremely difficult behavior to curb. Here’s our guide to preventing unwanted chewing (Hint: the chewing isn’t the actual problem).
How To Stop Destructive Chewing With Management And Prevention
You can take many different kinds of precautions to prevent the destruction of your property. Depending on the severity of your dog’s chewing habit, this could be anything from simply picking up the floor before you leave for work, to full-blown crate training.
Before leaving your dog alone, do a quick scan to make sure that chewable items and other tempting targets are put away, or well out of your dog’s reach. These commonly include:
- Water bottles
- Leftovers/food items
All of these can cause serious health risks if ingested. Whether your dog has chewing problems or not, you should store these in an inaccessible area. Be careful about leaving them on the counter too, larger dogs can easily counter-surf and gain access to toxic foods or medications.
Another prevention tactic is to ensure that your dog is getting adequate sensory stimulation. Dogs often chew because they’re bored. There’s no one to play with at home, so they take out their pent-up energy on furniture or whatever else they can find to chew. Dogs chew to self-soothe so lowering their levels of anxiety or boredom can make a big difference.
Make sure your dog is exercising the proper amount, and that they have mentally enriching toys or activities to occupy their mind. We highly recommend using puzzle toys and kongs to keep them busy. However, you can’t substitute chew toys for proper exercise levels and physical play.
You can also manage the space that your dog is allowed to stay in while you’re away. This could be locking them in a safe room (with plenty of food, water, & toys), or creating a comfortable space for them to spend alone time in. If you crate train your dog and give them a space of their own, you can greatly cut down on unwanted chewing.
Don’t Worry, Your Dog Isn’t Chewing Because They’re Mad At You
We hear a lot of owners who think their dog chews on things to get back at them. You shouldn’t be concerned about this at all. Chewing is a natural and normal behavior for dogs. Dogs don’t get angry or hold grudges against anyone. They just react to the stimuli around them. Any anger you read in them is just personification on your part.
Dogs have a short term memory of around 5 minutes. This guarantees they won’t remember to take vengeance on you for leaving. Chewing behavior is most likely caused by simple boredom, or possibly separation anxiety— which may require professional training to fully address.
In severe cases of separation anxiety, extensive training and even anti-anxiety medication may be necessary to help your dog cope with your absence. Some dogs just don’t understand how to function without their owner and may destroy whole couches when panic strikes. Please consult with a veterinarian or dog care specialist before starting your dog on any new medications.
Feeding your dog a low-quality food can also cause irritation and other behavioral issues. Bad food can lead to excess energy and increased agitation in dogs, especially ingredients like corn and soy. So, make sure your dog has a healthy diet before attributing chewing to separation anxiety.
At DogBoy’s, we make sure our boarded dogs have plenty of time to get their energy out at the Ranch, and we feed them quality food. If you have any questions about training anxious dogs, or want to know more about dog boarding at DogBoy’s, please contact us today.
Rip Toy by Alan Levine
Chew by Jonathan Kriz
Stick Chew by mo1229