Believe it or not, when a dog chews on something, it’s actually normal behavior. In fact, it is one of dogs’ favorite pass-times. You may notice that your dogs can spend hours chewing on their favorite toys. There are a couple reasons why. For example, dogs may chew to relive stress or anxiety, for fun, or just for the sake of it. With all those reasons for chewing on things the benefits aren’t far behind. However, sometimes good intentions lead to poor decisions. Dogs love chewing on things so much that sometimes they can’t control their impulses. This is when you may notice them chewing on your shoes, clothes, hairbrush, or really anything that they shouldn’t have their paws on, much less their teeth. As pet owners, this may be particularly frustrating on account of the all the chew toys that we buy in order to divert the more destructive chewing.
This is where this post comes in handy. Giving dogs toys is not enough. In addition to that, it’s important to be understanding of why our dogs are engaging in destructive chewing. Once you understand the why, combatting against it and teaching them what is and what is not allowed becomes easy.
Puppies, in particular, are prone to getting into things and this has a lot to do with their youth, but a more likely reason is that they are teething. When puppies lose their baby teeth they can experience a lot of discomfort and chewing on things can elevate that pain. Puppies like to explore the world around them and this often leads them to chew on whatever they find and if it helps ease the teething pain, all the better for them— not so much for you though. Don’t sweat it. When they’re puppies, they’re all the easier to train. To ease your puppies off of chewing your shoes, make other toys available. When they get into mischief, simply take the item that they aren’t suppose to have away and replace it with a toy. Frozen washcloths also help numb the pain.
If you’re dealing with older dogs, the above may not be applicable, but there could be a couple of other reasons why your dogs may be chewing on your things instead of their own. Hunger and anxiety are other potential reasons as to why your pets may destructive chewing. If your dog isn’t getting enough food, they may search for things around the house that remind them of food and chew on those. Whereas if your dog is anxious, they’ll just chew on anything to release the stress.
Now that we have a better understanding of their behavior, it is easier to remedy the dogs’ more mischievous habits.
1.) Set your dogs up for success. Try to keep the things that you don’t want your dogs chewing out of their reach.
2.) It isn’t fair to expect your dog to know what is and what isn’t allowed on their own. You may confuse them if you give them old rags to play with and then get annoyed when you catch them chewing on your new clothes. Keep your things and their things separate. Again, set your pets up for success. They can’t tell a new pair of shoes from the old pair you let them play with.
3.) Make sure your dogs has plenty of fun toys. Dogs are easily bored; so, the same old toy may not be cutting it. Toys that keep your dogs chewing may be most effective. You might try edible chew toys such as bully sticks and dog bones.
4.) If you do catch your dogs in the act, do not yell at them. That reaction may tree your pets out more. Instead, simply take the item away and firmly say “no.” Then, replace the no-no item with one of your dogs’ chew toys with a positive affirmation, like “good boy!”
5.) Make sure your dogs are getting enough exercise. Bored pets tend to get into more trouble. With regular exercise, you might notice a lessening in your dogs’ destructive chewing.