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What Causes Dogs to Chew? Ways to Keep Your Dog From Chewing

Jul 12, 2008
A dog's normal behavior is chewing. Obviously, it is not acceptable to permit your dog to chew clothing, furniture, stuffed toys, shoes, or even the remote control. Dogs can even chew a hole in a house large enough for it to escape; an occurrence that once happened with the dog of a friend of mine. A computer mouse and numerous remote controls were also victims of chewing by the same dog.

Understanding why dogs chew is the first step. During the teething stage, puppies will often want to chew. A dog will put anything in its mouth to make the pain disappear, similar to what baby children do during their teething stage. When dogs age into adults, their chewing habits are usually attributed to boredom or separation anxiety. Some dogs chew as part of their play ritual, and others chew just because the item tastes particularly good. Regardless, chewing behaviors from adult dogs are an undesirable trait.

Here is a list of some of the more destructive habits of dogs.

* Teething
* Mouthing
* Boredom
* Fear
* Play
* Attention Seeking
* Just tastes Good

All puppies go through the teething stage. For human children, there are topical gels available that parents can rub on the gums to alleviate pain and discomfort. This same type of topical gel has been used on puppies by a number of veterinarians. Teething is a natural stage of puppy development, and there are many products to assist the puppy during this time. There are manufacturers of hard rubber and plastic toys who specifically design their products for puppies that are teething. A few at-home techniques include giving your puppy normal ice cubes to chew on, or to tie a damp wash cloth into a knot and freeze it. Give it to the puppy to chew on when he seems to be experiencing discomfort. Often. the frozen washcloth technique only works for small breed puppies. One idea, that avoids confusion as to what is his and what is yours, is to give a frozen bagel to the teething dog. This gives the dog something to gnaw on to aid the teething process, and is also a treat to encourage him to chew on it. I purchase the bags of smaller bagels. It is a very effective way to conquer teething problems.

Mouthing: It is the norm for little puppies (as young as 8 weeks old) to have really sharp baby teeth. These young dogs tend to bite during times of play and excitement. The mouthing behavior needs to be discouraged. This is the style in which young dogs speak with each other. Some pet owners like to play rough with their puppies, and they often return with a small bite mark as a result. Do not encourage this type of behavior, but rather, teach your dog that it is unacceptable.

Boredom: If you are absent from your dog for extended period of time, it will become bored and look elsewhere for something to do. One way the dog can pass the time is by finding something to chew. Getting your dog more exercise will be beneficial for them and you. Although walking some dogs relaxes them and tires them out, other dogs can be energized by the experience. If the latter is the case, a good solution is to take some down time with your dog immediately after a walk. This will create a strong bond between you and your dog, and strengthen your relationship. Once again, using frozen pizza dough or frozen bagels makes for a good chew toy for a puppy.

Fear - Sometimes, when frightened, dogs may chew on items. Loud noises, like those that occur during thunderstorms, can frighten some dogs. Dogs also become agitated by the presence of other dogs, and if another dog walks past the window, your dog may start barking, chewing the window frames, and so on. These types of actions are a result of defensive behaviors. The "down stay" command, as covered in earlier dog articles, is one of the most effective techniques when dealing with these types of behaviors. If the dog is acting in a negative manner, put a positive spin on the situation before attempting to teach this command. Give the "down stay" command to the dog after first removing him from the window. Find a way to relax the dog as you sit with him. This allows the dog to achieve a calm state of mind.

Play- Additional training will usually end any biting or chewing that happens while your dog is playing. Energy levels vary between individual dogs, and as such, some dogs have higher amounts of energy than others. This type of dog requires a significant amount of exercise to supplement the recommended training. Introduction of structured activities, such as jumping or fetch, will help the dog get necessary exercise during play time. During play time and exercises, practice many "down stays" in as many locations as possible.

Attention Seekers - Some dogs desire more attention from their owners than they are receiving, and strive to gain that attention through a behavior they know works. Common attention seeking behaviors include barking, chewing, spinning, stealing, and limping. As the dog is attempting to receive any sort of attention by chewing, negative reinforcement by the owner will not cause this behavior to stop. If no attention is brought to the poor behavior, it will often times go away on it's own.

Just Tastes Good - As common sense dictates, if an item tastes good to a dog, that dog is more likely to want to chew it. Items that are at risk of being chewed are ones that are palatable to a dog. This means that some items have a pleasant taste or texture to the dog. Examples of these items include stuffed animals, shoes, and most furniture. If your puppy is going through the inevitable chewing stage, it is wise not to leave these things laying around.

Chewing is usually not an issue for dogs that are healthy, have space of their own to roam, and exercise often. If it does become a problem, try the frozen bagels.
About the Author
For more information on this topic and more. Please take my complimentary mini course for you and your dog at the URL below. Annette Masse has been loving and respecting dogs for 25 years. ForTheLoveOfDogZ.com
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