Behavior: Problem Chewing

It’s no secret that dogs like to chew on things, whether it’s bones, sticks, or things they find in the yard. But it becomes a problem when your dog starts chewing on your furniture, your woodwork, your books, or your smartphone. (Been there, done that – right?) Dogs chew for lots of different reasons but there are some good solutions that will help you control the problem.
Figure out why your dog is chewing
Before you can control your dog’s chewing it helps to figure out why he’s chewing. Some of the reasons dogs chew include:

• Puppy teething
• Puppy exploring
• Boredom
• Anxiety
• Loneliness
• Natural urge to chew
• It tastes good
• Curiosity
• Playing
• Pica/Coprophagia

Puppies form their own category so we’ll address them separately. Different issues can motivate adult dogs to chew. Pica and coprophagia aren’t chewing in the strictest sense but they are related and often motivated by similar causes. Pica is the consumption of non-food items. Some dogs eat rocks, golf balls, or objects in the home. Coprophagia is when dogs eat feces. It’s a weird habit some dogs have. It can be related to nutrients that are missing in the dog’s diet but it’s usually caused by the same things that motivate chewing.

It’s perfectly normal for puppies to chew so if you have a puppy you can expect him or her to chew on things for a few months. Your puppy will be shedding baby teeth and adult teeth will be emerging so your puppy will be teething, just like a human baby. This will be painful at times so your puppy will look for things to chew. You can help him by giving him lots of his own things to chew. Make sure he has toys and chews with all kinds of different textures – soft toys, hard toys, nubby toys, and so on. He will prefer different textures at different times. The more things he has of his own, the less likely he is to chew on things that belong to you. You can save your expensive shoes by giving your puppy a $10 toy.

Puppies are also very curious and one way they learn about the world is by putting things in their mouths. They taste things and bite them to see what they taste like and how they feel. Of course, this leads to chewing on things. And sometimes puppies just have fun chewing on things and destroying things. Again, provide your puppy with lots of his own toys and he will be less likely to chew and destroy your things.

Finally, with puppies, it’s important to keep things away from them! Put anything you value out of reach until your puppy is older and you can start to trust him not to chew on things. This will probably be when your puppy is about two years old.

Dogs and chewing
Dogs have a natural urge to chew so it’s a good idea to keep your adult dog supplied with toys and chews. This will discourage him from chewing on things in the house that belong to you or bothering furniture. Dental chews are also a good way to help your dog maintain healthy gums and teeth.

But dogs can also chew if they are unhappy for some reason. If your dog is left alone for hours each day he may be bored, lonely, or have problems with separation anxiety. Any of these issues can cause a dog to chew on things in the home. If your dog is left alone a lot, you should try to spend as much quality time with him as possible. Play with your dog when you are home. Make sure he is getting plenty of exercise each day. Dogs who have a lot of pent up energy will often start acting out in the home and find ways to be destructive. You should also make sure your dog has plenty of toys and chews to keep him busy when you aren’t home. If he has his own toys and chews he is less likely to destroy your things.

It’s always a good idea to spend time with your dog. Play with him. And make sure he has plenty of safe toys and chews. Exercise is a good way for dogs to use up some energy so they won’t be as likely to chew on things in the home and become destructive. Remember that chewing is natural for dogs and especially for puppies so try to provide things for them to chew so they won’t be tempted to chew on inappropriate things in your home.

Author: Carlotta Cooper
Carlotta Cooper is a freelance writer who specializes in writing about dogs. She is a contributing editor for a national dog magazine. She has written two books about dogs: Canine Cuisine: 101 Natural Dog Food & Treat Recipes to Make Your Dog Healthy and Happy (Back-To-Basics) and How to Listen to Your Dog: The Complete Guide to Communicating with Man’s Best Friend . She has five fun dogs of her own.