Wondering how to cure your dog’s chewing problems for good? We’ve got some tips to help your pup develop better habits.
Dog Psychology 101
Puppies, like humans, use their mouths to investigate their new surroundings. This can lead to them eating almost anything in sight, including paper and smelly old shoes, as well as furniture, electrical cords, toxic plants, and that new purse you bought.
It may surprise you to learn that dogs do not chew to spite us, but they do enjoy smelling like their owners, which is why your shoes and sports equipment tempt them. They live in the moment as well, so they won't associate their destruction with your rage and subsequent punishment.
Reasons Your Dog Chews
Believe it or not, your dog doesn’t chew to spite you. There are many reasons this behavior may persist, including:
- To relieve anxiety or fear
- To seek attention
- Lack of training
How to Stop a Dog from Chewing
Because dogs are unable to distinguish between right and wrong or to link your anger and discipline to their actions (such as chewing up your shoes), they will not understand or change their behavior after being punished. So don't smack them, scold them, or put a muzzle on them. Try these instead:
Exercise and stimulation
A happy dog or puppy is tired. Learn about your dog's energy levels and needs so that you can give him the exercise and playtime he deserves. Unless they have a medical condition that prevents this, set a goal of 20 to 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise.
Training and supervision
Puppies need to learn good habits and what not to do, so close supervision at home is key.
Keep valuables tucked away
“Dog-proof” your home. Got some new Valentino pumps or golf shoes you’d rather keep free of your dog’s chompers? Put them in a place they can’t reach.
Do not reward the behavior you don’t want to continue
Scream, pull back and leave the room if your puppy nips your fingers. When your dog steals something valuable and flees, resist the urge to chase him. Instead, call him over to you and offer him a treat or a toy in exchange for the chewed item.
How your vet can help
Fortunately, most dogs' excessive chewing behavior fades by around 18 months of age, but it will likely persist to some degree for the rest of their lives, depending on your dog's breed and other factors. Consult your veterinarian if you notice excessive chewing. They can:
- Check for medical reasons your dog might be chewing and provide treatment
- Advise whether you should let certain items pass, when your dog needs to come in for an exam and when you should induce vomiting if he or she has chewed an inappropriate item
- Provide advice and pointers for modifying your dog’s behavior
- Suggest appropriate chew toys, treats, deterrents, or training methods
At Aadobe Animal Hospital we can perform a full health checkup and provide advice on how to solve this frustrating problem.