Has your dog been chewing on your furniture lately? If yes, you have no cause to worry. Chewing is natural, normal and instinctive behavior in dogs, and they use their mouths to explore the world around them and to keep themselves amused. Fortunately, it is possible to curb destructive chewing. Below is an overview of what causes it, how to prevent it, and ways to keep your dog healthy and happy.
Your Dog is Bored
Boredom is one of the primary factors that causes destructive chewing. When a dog feels lonely or unmotivated, it easily turns its attention to nearby objects and starts gnawing on them. To remedy the situation, you need to create a stimulating environment for the dog. Chew toys are a perfect way to keep the dog engaged when you are away. Select a dog chew toy that is attractive, resilient and non-consumable. (*note from Dr. Morgan – many chew toys that are marketed as indestructible can be destroyed, breaking into smaller pieces that can be swallowed. Always supervise your dog with any toy.) Make the dog know how you feel by praising and rewarding it when it chews on it. To keep the dog interested in the toy, use it when playing games like fetch, search and tug of war.
It is Common in Puppies
Most pooches go through the chewing phase when they are young. Puppies may chew on objects to alleviate teething pain or to investigate anything that draws their curiosity such as shoes, socks, and baby toys. To solve this, you first need to puppy proof your home. Remove any clutter on the floor, cover your electrical cords, keep all household cleaning products out of reach and close any rooms that you are not using. Also, take advantage and start teaching your pup early how to distinguish between forbidden and appropriate chew items.
A Symptom of Separation Anxiety
At times, adult dogs with no previous history of destructive chewing may start gnawing on furniture and tearing up things. This may be caused by anxiety as the dog picks up the chewing habit to relieve stress. A dog may get anxious when you change its environment, change your schedule or if it is exposed to a traumatic experience. To treat anxiety in dogs, you should make your routine more random, avoid lengthy goodbyes when leaving and long greetings when arriving. Also, consider systematic desensitization, where you use a step by step approach to teach your dog to overcome its fears and be independent when left alone at home.
Exercising your dog on a regular basis can help it spend the pent-up energy that may otherwise be directed to destructive chewing. Take your dog outdoors every morning for a long walk, jog or swim to keep it stimulated and to satisfy its sense of curiosity. If the pattern is already established, you can apply repellents on the target objects to discourage the behavior. Using the right approach will create a strong bond between you and the pet, and keep your valuables safe. With this information, you are now better equipped to handle your destructive dog.
Submitted by Chrissy Jones