Chew on This! -By Nan Telleno, ABC Certified Dog Trainer
Friday, April 01, 2011 : 9:50:25 AM Updated Thursday, November 29, 2012 : 2:54:12 PM
Let’s face it, dogs love to chew. But unfortunately, it may become quite an inconvenience for you at times, especially if the chewing is becoming destructive and the object being gnawed is one that you value. But instead of yelling at your dog or becoming angry or frustrated, just be aware that redirection is the ultimate answer.
You're never going to stop your dog from chewing altogether. It's a natural canine activity, especially for puppies who are teething. Puppies tend to teethe for about 6 months. Being naturally curious, puppies may often explore their world by gnawing and chewing on anything they can. Teething can cause some pain and discomfort so the act of chewing not only helps as the new teeth come in, but can also reduce the feeling of discomfort.
Aside from scent, sight and sound, chewing can also be one of the various ways for adult dogs to explore their world too. Some dogs have a stronger desire to chew more than others. They just need to be guided and directed as to what to chew. Chewing can even be beneficial for their teeth as it stimulates healthy teeth and gums. So it's always best to just redirect where, when and what they chew. Do your part to guide your dog to the more desirable behavior by removing all valuable items out of your dog’s path and supplying healthy chew toys instead.
Adult dogs that chew excessively or destructively may do so out of frustration, fear, stress or boredom. It can also manifest from separation anxiety or a change in environment. In most cases, however, your dog may need more mental stimulation. He or she may require more challenges, possibly, both physically and psychologically. Always make sure that your dog is provided exercise and mental stimulation in the form of a good healthy walk daily. (Actually, this can be seen as a positive wake-up call because this should happen everyday, anyway.) Your best friend may also be in need of more quality time spent with you. As you spend playtime with your dog, you can be teaching him or her more appropriate behaviors with plenty of praise and rewards.
Excessive chewing may even develop from the lack of a proper diet. Check with your vet to make sure that there is no sign of gum disease. Also make sure that your adult or senior dog is not suffering from broken teeth or gum disease. An injury to the mouth, tongue, lips or gums can cause your dog to seek help by gnawing on something for the pain.
Make sure that you’re providing the proper nutrients for your dog on a daily basis. A diet of soft food alone may also encourage a dog to start to chew as they seek to find more texture. Do your research to find a healthful quality kibble to supply all of your dog’s nutritional requirements as well as for the various stages of your dog’s life.
Be aware of which types of toys to steer clear. Avoid dog toys that mimic children's toys and even ones that somehow mimic household items like pillows, socks, shoes or slippers to avoid confusion for your dog. It’s not fair to set him/her up to fail because your socks or slippers look too similar to the new toy. Avoid squeaky toys that can be easily ripped apart as your dog can too readily swallow the small squeaky piece inside. Stay away from toys that have little pieces that can be ripped off too easily and accidentally ingested. Avoid rawhide bones as pieces can get lodged in the throat. (And never allow your dog to eat poultry bones, as they can easily become a choking hazard!)
I find that Kongs are good chew toys because they’re durable and can be easily filed with cheese or peanut butter and they can even be frozen overnight for several hours of chewing. This can help keep your dog occupied and happy especially if you have to leave to go out.
Be patient and as with all training, remain consistent. Don’t change your mind on what is appropriate one day and inappropriate the next perhaps because you don’t have the time or maybe the patience on one occasion and then frantically yell at your dog for the same behavior the next! Avoid this scenario because this just creates more confusion and stress for both you and your dog!
Never yell or correct later (even just a few minutes later) or anytime after the fact, as your dog will simply not understand the reason for your disapproval. If you witness this undesirable action, correct immediately while in the act with a firm, “no”, “drop it” or “leave it” or present a quick sound such as a hand clap to divert attention. Offer an acceptable chew toy in its place and at the precise moment that your dog drops the object and accepts the new toy, reward and praise this new behavior.
Overall, never punish your dog for doing something that comes naturally. Simply set him/her up to succeed by removing all non-acceptable items out of the way while replacing these items with the safe and proper chew toys.
invite you to click through our site or speak with an ABC Admissions