Destructive Chewing in Dogs

Young animals, from babies to puppies, love exploring the world by placing random objects in their mouths and sucking or chewing on them. However it can be frustrating to find that as pets like puppies are teething, teeth marks often appear on beloved possessions and furniture.

It’s important to train young animals so they know what not to chew and avoid dangerous objects.

When this behaviour continues into adulthood it can be a little confusing for pet owners as to why it is still occurring. The main reason adult dogs will chew random household objects is due to not being trained away from this behaviour as puppies. However all is not lost! You can still redirect this destructive behaviour in your adult dog, and save your socks! All it takes is a little patience and attention to detail.

WHY IT OCCURS:

Aside from a lack of training there are a few other reasons your dog might be chewing household objects with a devil-may-care attitude. These include:

  • Instinct: Chewing is a natural behaviour in dogs, if your dog chewing objects has not reached the destructive point it is likely the behaviour is perfectly normal. Adult dogs chew to keep their jaws strong, and chewing on rawhide bones is helpful for canine teeth.
  • Boredom: From digging holes to putting holes in your furniture, there’s no end to what a bored, mischievous canine can get up to. Ensure your dog has plenty of physical and mental stimulation, company and play time on hand in order to prevent any anti-social behaviour including chewing.
  • Frustration: Frustration can be linked to boredom, so again, make sure your dog has plenty to occupy it, including space, exercise, and the freedom to run around a bit if that’s what the breed dictates. Frustration can also be created when dogs are teased or irritated by children, so be sure to supervise your dog around others and take note of when he or she seems frustrated.
  • Anxiety: Chewing and other destructive behaviour can stem from Anxiety in your dog. If you suspect your dog may be suffering from Anxiety, please speak with your Vet.
  • Separation Anxiety: Some dogs do suffer from Separation Anxiety. If you think your dog’s destructive chewing behaviour might be linked to Separation Anxiety it’s again important to seek your Vet's advice on the subject.

Symptoms of Separation Anxiety in dogs include:

  • The destructive behaviour occurs, usually, when the dog is left alone.
  • Your dog follows you from room to room at home.
  • Your dog displays odd, often frantic greeting behaviours.
  • He or she reacts erratically to your behaviours as you prepare to leave the house.

TIPS/TRICKS TO PREVENT DESTRUCTIVE CHEWING:

  • Keep objects you do not want chewed in a safe place, like a closed wardrobe or container
  • Provide your dog with its own chewable toys for play and mental stimulation. There is a large variety of dog toys available to purchase such as KONG toys and/or Nylabones. 
  • Give your dog plenty of physical exercise to reduce frustration and excess energy. You can also play games and practise training sessions with your dog in order to mentally and physically stimulate your pet.
  • There are anti-chew deterrents available for purchase. You can experiment with the effectiveness of these deterrents by spraying the product on something your dog likes to chew and waiting to see if it finds the taste displeasing.
  • DON’T punish your dog for chewing hours after the fact! It’s more beneficial to redirect your dog’s chewing to a different object, such as a bone or chew-toy designed for dogs.

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