Dog Chewing: The Definite Guide
Shoes, furniture, wood, carpet, toys - you name it and your dog can turn it into a chewing toy. If your puppy is trained to use a specific object as a chewing toy, you will probably never have to worry about him chewing on any other stuff while growing up.
Shoes, furniture, wood, carpet, toys – you name it and your dog can turn it into a chewing toy.
Reasons for puppy chewing issues and adult dog chewing issues are different, but may as well be one another’s source.
Growing teeth are itchy and make puppy nervous and chewing provides relief.
If your puppy is trained to use a specific object as a chewing toy, you will probably never have to worry about him chewing on any other stuff while growing up.
But, if your puppy was given the freedom to choose the chewing toys out of a whole range of your stuff, chewing anything he finds fit to chew on will continue throughout his life. Adult dogs chew out of habit, boredom, stress and anxiety and health issues as well.
So, to put an end to it, it is crucial to determine the reason why your dog chews (what he chews).
Dog chewing paws
Some dogs tend to lick and chew on their paws. Reasons for this are different and so is the goal of chewing itself. Chewing is the only way to scratch itching paws.
Since the paws are unreachable any other was, dogs use their teeth to scratch them.
However, a particular reason why your dog does this is what you should focus your attention to and you should not hesitate to consult with your vet.
Occasional chewing probably isn’t a sign of any physical or psychological issue, yet manic constant chewing most certainly is a reason to consult your veterinarian. A number of medical conditions may be manifested with paw chewing, among other symptoms.
The only answer your dog can give to the soreness and pain in the limbs caused by arthritis is chewing the painful area, which pretty much corresponds with what we know as “scratching ourselves raw”.
The same goes for the yeast infections. Since paws are the most exposed part of a canine body, they are most likely to react to allergens. Chewing paws is, in that case, a reaction to the itch and soreness caused by allergies.
Chewing paws can also be a reaction to parasite bites. Flea bite and a presence of a scar cause sharp sudden pain that quickly becomes soreness and itch. The dog’s only possible response to this is to bite back, even if that means biting and chewing on his own body.
Paws are also most likely a part to be injured by broken glass or some other sharp object your dog may have stepped on without even signalizing you that there is something wrong.
If you can point out the event (for example: walk, playing on some rough surface…) after your dog started chewing and licking his paws, do the checking yourself quickly, and if you notice anything out of the ordinary go to the vet’s, because this type of injury may only get more complicated and cause more pain to your dog if left untreated.
Stress and anxiety related chewing
Some dogs react to stress, anxiety and even boredom and a lack of attention by chewing their own body parts. Although their manifestation is obviously physical, anxiety and stress are psychological issues.
By closely monitoring what kind of influence your dog reacts to by chewing, you will be able to work out the issue by removing the cause.
Boredom related chewing habit is the easiest one to get rid of, since it basically depends on the amount of attention and effort you put into time you and your dog share. A few walks more, some fun chewing toys, a bit more cuddling in this case may be the problem solvers.
Dog chewing on his tail
Why do they do it?
Tail chewing is also very common, and much like the paw chewing may be generated from different sources. The same goes for your reaction: If it happens occasionally, it may just be an itch, but if it becomes frequent manic biting, consult the vet.
Fleas tend to “set up a shop” right around the root of the tail, which soon turns into skin irritation caused by frequent flea bites and your dog’s biting back. If you suspect parasites, look closely to the specific area your dog is chewing on and even if you do not see the fleas, you will most probably be able to spot the bite marks.
A frequent cause of the tail biting are bowel problems. Anal glands if impacted cause discomfort, itch and pain, and besides the chewing, may be recognized by scooting on the floor.
The only difference between the anxiety, stress or boredom caused paw chewing and tail chewing is the choice of the body part to chew on. Therefore, the way of dealing with this problem is the same in both cases.
How to stop the dog from chewing on carpets and furniture?
Unlike the previously mentioned issues of chewing on their own body parts, chewing on carpets and furniture is a matter of training.
First of all, what makes these household items seem like such inviting chewing toys is the fact that they put up a lot of fight and last long. So, although many dogs do chew up some less resistant items, they usually keep coming back to the rugs and furniture, especially if they started chewing on them before.
Like any other training task, the punchline to this one is to keep the rules straight. There must not be ’a carpet to chew on’ and three others that aren’t for chewing. Do you suppose the dog will be able to tell the difference?
Since the dog most certainly will not tell the difference, all carpets at your home will soon become chewing toys.
So, rules with no exceptions. If you catch your dog in action, be sure to induce some form of punishment. But, it is even more important to figure out the reason behind your dog destroying your furniture and carpets.
When it comes to puppies, the most common reason is the most obvious one – teeth growth. Older dogs, however, tend to do it for various reasons. Some dogs do it out of boredom, some as a manifestation of anxiety (for example, in your absence). In case of puppies and bored dogs, the way out is to replace the ones of their choosing with some appropriate chewing toys.
Spread bones or some other kind of chewing toys around the house, so that they become the alternative to carpets and furniture. It may also turn into a permanent ‘find the treasure’ game that will also turn your dog’s attention away from your household items.
How to stop the dog from chewing on shoes?
No matter the ‘personal differences’ and ‘different taste in things’, shoes are without a doubt the absolute favorite chewing toy of all time. Shoes owe this evergreen popularity to several facts. First of all, the smell. Dogs like to play, roll into and chew on things that smell ‘interesting’.
That explains why your dog decided to chew on your favorite and most worn ones to tiny bits, especially if they were made of leather, which has a distinctive smell as well. The second reason is the fact that they are the perfect toy to carry around and hide it ‘somewhere safe’ if necessary.
The most common obstacle in breaking the habit of chewing on shoes is the fact that some people allow their dogs to keep the first one they have ruined as a toy. “It’s better to keep chewing on this one that is already ruined than to chew on all the others”, some might say.
The very core of breaking the chewing habit is not to allow it at all, no exceptions. You most definitely need to express your discontent with what your dog has done and imply punishment of a sort. Not just that he does not get to keep the stolen shoe, but gets to sit in the doggy basket for the rest of the afternoon, for example. But, since chewing is dogs’ most instinctive need, you should provide your dog with one or more chewing toys.
Why do dogs like to chew on wood?
Wooden sticks as well as pretty much anything made of wood, wooden chairs, shelves and even wooden stairs are very common chewing ‘toys’. Dogs which like to play and run for wooden sticks often consider wooden furniture to be toys as well.
When it comes to puppies, wood may seem like a perfect material to cut the itchy teeth on, and if not forbidden it may develop into a lifelong habit.
As well as any other no-chewing strategy, the one considering the wooden objects works by the same principle. With the exception of sticks, do not tolerate any wood chewing action.
Also, do not allow bringing the wooden sticks from the park back home – let the sticks remain an outdoor activity. Make no exceptions and stick to the rules.
Also, provide your dog with appropriate chewing toys that will be available and reachable at any time. Some dogs chew on stuff when alone, as a manifestation of anxiety.
Try playing with some of those toys with your dog. The play time is at the same time the practice time that supports the habit of playing with toys, which is also a powerful anxiety release mechanism.
Chewing proof environment
There is an opinion that the best way to save your stuff from being chewed on is to keep them out of your dog’s reach. This strategy theoretically sound all right, yet in practice you can never know what will pop in your dog’s mind and which object within his reach will become the next chewing toy.
More importantly, you will not always be able to proof all the spaces your dog is spending time at. Therefore, although more time and patience consuming, the idea of training your dog not to chew on your things seems more likely to permanently prevent the damage then the idea of hiding stuff.
Training will keep your dog away from your stuff, and house proofing will keep the stuff away from the dog. The first option, if anything, seems to be a more permanent solution.
What not to forget when it comes to your dog chewing on stuff
- Puppies need to chew on something to cut the teeth. Avoid having your stuff ruined by providing them with adequate chewing toys
- Prevent creating the habit of chewing on your stuff by not letting your puppy choose a chewing toy by himself. Create the habit of chewing on specific (type of) objects
- Chewing on body parts is not a matter of training, but a manifestation of a certain problem. Therefore, induce no punishments but look for the cause of the problem and solve it
- If you suspect that chewing on body parts is a health related issue, do not pursue it on your own, but rather consult your vet. Do not let your dog suffer discomfort or pain
- Try to perceive and distinct simple misbehavior from anxiety based behavior. Show your discontent, but consider the distinction before you decide on the punishment
- Make sure you do not make any exceptions, do not create confusion. Your dog cannot tell the difference between the shoe he is allowed to chew on and the one that will bring the punishment his way
- Provide your dog with as many chewing toys as possible, so that he loses interest in household items, shoes, carpets, etc
- Consider, if interested, chew-proofing your living area, but do not forget that you cannot hide everything. Training is a permanent solution and house proofing is a temporary one
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