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Dog Chewing Problems: Why They Chew & How to Stop Them

While chewing is a normal activity for dogs, you likely don't want to sacrifice your favorite chair or pair of headphones to your dog's pastime. In this post, our Hattiesburg and Petal vets share insights into why dogs chew, along with advice on how to stop a dog from chewing. 

Why does my dog seem to love chewing things?

Similar to infants or toddlers, puppies explore their world by mouthing or biting objects around them - one of their favorite ways to learn new things is to use their mouths. 

Chewing may also be a way for puppies to relieve pain from teething and for adult dogs to keep their teeth clean and jaws strong. Multiple other factors can also come into play.

Plus, chewing is just plain fun for dogs and can help to relieve anxiety. Of course, chewing can get them in trouble or cause safety issues when they chew their owners' furniture, shoes, other beloved items, or even trash or things that may be toxic to them. If chewing becomes compulsive, you may need to consult a professional or your veterinarian for help. 

In this post, we'll explore mental and physical reasons your pooch may chew, why they may not always choose the right things to sink their teeth into, and recommend healthy chew toys. We'll also caution against unhealthy items and share tips to get your dog to stop chewing an object if required. 

Puppy Teething 

Just like human babies, puppies will go through an uncomfortable teething period. While your puppy is teething, you'll probably notice they chew more frequently to relieve pain and discomfort. This intensified chewing phase typically ends by the time they are six months old. 

Hunger

It's not uncommon for dogs on a calorie-restricted diet to start chewing on items in an effort to discover other sources of nutrition. this type of chewing is generally focused on food-related objects or things that smell like food, such as plastic bowls. 

Stress & Anxiety 

Since they are social creatures at heart, many dogs suffer from separation anxiety when their owners are absent. Dogs experiencing stress or anxiety will often resort to chewing as a way to comfort themselves. 

Boredom 

Does your dog spend extended periods of time alone without enough mental stimulation? In these settings, they can quickly become bored and may chew interesting things around your house as a way to pass time. 

How do I stop my dog from chewing my stuff?

When trying to prevent your dog from destructive chewing, it is essential to start by identifying the cause and eliminating any of the problems listed above. Step two is to focus on redirecting your dog's chewing to more desirable objects, such as chew toys.

Exercise

Adequate daily exercise is the key to a happy and contented pup. Making sure that your pooch gets plenty of exercise before you leave the house is one of the best ways to curb destructive chewing. High energy breeds such as Border Collies, German Shepherds, Brittnays and Springer Spaniels need at least two hours of exercise every day, while more laid back breeds such as Pomeranians, Pugs, and Shih Tzus often do well with as little as 40 minutes of exercise daily.

Entertainment

To help reduce separation anxiety or boredom in dogs that spend extended periods of time alone, try training your dog to associate alone time with positive experiences. When you leave, provide a puzzle toy stuffed with food, and a variety of fun, special toys that your dog only gets to play with while you are away (to retain the novelty).

Providing your pooch with lots of interesting toys will not only create a positive association with alone time, it will also serve as a distraction from the objects that you don't want your dog to chew on.

What are some healthy and unhealthy chew toys?

When it comes to training your dog and providing items to chew, you'll want to invest in safe, stimulating toys that can stand up to their teeth and jaws. In addition, you'll need to keep some items out of their reach. Here are some healthy and unhealthy or inappropriate items for dogs to chew:

Healthy Items

Edible Pig Ears, Pig Skin Rolls & Bully Sticks - While you'll need to supervise your dog when he or she chews these items since dogs can sometimes choke on edible chews, these items are healthy. 

Puzzle Toys - These can make eating fun and give your dog some of the mental stimulation they need. Add a delicious treat or some of your dog's daily food ration to the toy and give it to her at the time of day she is most likely to chew. 

Unhealthy Items 

Clothes & Children's Toys - Curious pups will pick up anything left within reach of their paws, including children's toys that may become stuck in their digestive system. They will also sometimes chew clothes or shoes, parts of which they may swallow. Surgery may be required to remove these. 

Furniture & Fabric - Many dogs chew furniture or lick, chew or suck on fabrics. Some people believe fabric sucking results from having been weaned too early (before a puppy reached 7 or 8 weeks old), and in some cases can become compulsive. 

Destructive chewing of furniture can also become an annoying habit - and expensive if you need to repair damaged items. Plus, if pieces of furniture break off and are swallowed, this can be dangerous to your dog's health.

How can I discourage unwanted chewing?

There are a few ways you can discourage your dog from chewing items they shouldn't, and one of them is by dog proofing your home. Removing all other temptations can be helpful in ensuring that your pup only chews designated objects. Place valuable objects out of reach, make sure your laundry is put away or in a closed hamper, and ensure that books and children's toys are stored out of your dog's reach.

When you encounter your dog chewing on an item they shouldn't be, say "no," take it away, and replace it with a chew toy, then be sure to provide lots of praise when your dog chews on that instead. If none of the suggestions above are successful in stopping your dog's destructive chewing, you may want to try spraying any objects you don't want your dog to chew with a dog deterrent spray. 

When should I seek professional help for my dog's chewing? 

Your veterinarian may have some helpful tips on how to stop a dog from chewing dangerous or favorite items. They can also provide nutrition advice during routine exams, assess whether your dog's diet may be lacking necessary nutrients and help you develop a diet plan to make sure your dog is getting all the sustenance their growing body needs.

If required, you may want to consult a professional behavioral therapist if you suspect your dog's chewing has become compulsive or you have tried multiple methods to deter them and none have worked long-term.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned about your dog's chewing? Contact our Hattiesburg and Petal vets for advice.

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