Why do dogs chew?
Chewing is a very normal behavior for puppies and dogs and it accomplishes several things. For puppies, just like young children, they like to explore the world by putting things in their mouths. Mouthing is a part of normal puppy social behaviour too. For young dogs, it can be a way of relieving pain associated with descending teeth (known as teething). For older dogs, it can be nature’s way of keeping jaws strong and teeth clean. Chewing also combats boredom and can relieve mild frustration or anxiety. We have some tips on how you can help your pup lead an enriched, happy lifestyle while keeping your furniture, home and fingers safe too!
Much like human babies, puppies go through a stage where they lose their baby teeth and experience pain as their adult teeth come through.
The discomfort of teething motivates a puppy to chew. This intensified chewing phase generally ends by six months of age.
Puppies that are teething can be given ice blocks or frozen dog toys to help alleviate the pain.
Although puppies do need to chew on things, gentle guidance can teach your puppy to restrict chewing to appropriate objects, like their own toys.
Lack of mental stimulation
Some dogs chew because they simply do not get enough physical and mental stimulation. Dogs that are bored will tend to look for ways to entertain themselves, and chewing is one option.
To prevent destructive chewing due to boredom, be sure to provide plenty of ways for your dog to exercise both its mind and its body.
Great ways to accomplish this include daily walks and outings, off-leash play with other compatible dogs, tug and fetch games, trick training, dog sports and feeding meals in foraging toys.
“Dog-proof” your house. Put valuable objects away until you’re confident that your dog’s chewing behavior is restricted to appropriate items. Make it easy for your dog to succeed.
Provide your dog with plenty of their own toys. Pay attention to the types of toys that keep them chewing for long periods of time and continue to offer those. It’s ideal to introduce something new or rotate your dog’s chew toys every couple of days so that he doesn’t get bored with the same old toys.
Offer your dog edible chews such as bully sticks, pigs' ears or other natural chews. Dogs should be separated when given high value treats and chews to ensure they are able to relax and to avoid them gulping down chews quickly. Chews should be given under supervision.
Identify times of day when your dog is most likely to chew and provide them with a puzzle toy filled with delicious food or treats. You can include your dogs daily ration of food in the toy.
Supervise your dog during waking hours until you feel the chewing behavior is under control. If your dog begins chewing an item that they shouldn’t, remove the item from their mouth and replace it with something they CAN chew. If you suspect your dog might react aggressively if you remove an item from their mouth, reach out to our team for information on resource guarding.
When you can’t supervise your dog, use confinement to prevent them chewing on inappropriate things. Remove all things that your dog shouldn’t chew from their confinement area and give them a variety of appropriate toys and chews to enjoy instead. Keep in mind that if you confine your dog, you’ll need to ensure they get plenty of exercise and quality time with you not being confined also.
Provide your dog with plenty of physical exercise and mental stimulation. If you must leave your dog alone for more than a short period of time, make sure they get a good play session beforehand.
What Not To Do
Do not show your dog the damage caused by chewing and spank, scold or punish them after the fact. Dogs cannot connect your punishment with a behaviour that occurred hours or even minutes ago. This will just damage the relationship you have with your dog.
Do not muzzle or tie your dogs mouth closed around a chewed object for any length of time. This is inhumane, will teach your dog nothing and has caused dogs to die previously.
Do not tie damaged object to your dog. This is inhumane and will teach your dog nothing.
Do not leave your dog in a crate for lengthy periods of time to prevent chewing.
Puppies Biting People
Puppies need to learn ‘bite inhibition’. Puppies and dogs need to understand that human hands are fragile and are not for rough play. If your puppy bites your hands, yelp loudly and ignore the puppy for 10-20 seconds. Puppies need to learn that gentle play continues but painful play stops. When your puppy is trying to bite you, replace your hands with something they can chew like a toy.
Encourage non-contact forms of play, such as fetch and tug of war rather than wrestling and rough play with hands.
If your puppy is biting at your feet or ankles while you’re walking, carry a long tug toy with you. If they start biting your feet, stop and stand still, redirect their chewing to the tug toy and then continue moving. If they begin biting your feet when you move again, stop and repeat the process until they understand that biting the tug toy is much more enjoyable and rewarding.
If you still have burning questions, please give one of our friendly team a ring!