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So Why Do Dogs Chew Things? Here is How to Keep Your Dog From Chewing Up the House

Jul 23, 2008
It is normal for a dog to chew. However, it is unacceptable to allow your dog to chew shoes, stuffed animals, furniture, or remote controls. I once heard of a dog who chewed an escape hole right through a house! This same dog also devoured several remote controls and a computer mouse.

We must begin by understanding why dogs chew.
Puppies usually chew in the teething stage. Just as a baby does, a teething puppy will put items in it's mouth to help alleviate some of the discomfort. With adult dogs, chewing is usually due to separation anxiety or boredom. Some dogs begin chewing as part of play, some simply chew because an item tastes good. But with adult dogs, most chewing is simply bad behavior.

Let's take a closer look at these destructive behaviors.

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

Teething - For puppies, teething is simply a stage of their development. Human parents often use topical gels to relieve teething discomfort in their babies. Some veterinarians have had success using this same gel on puppies. Since teething is temporary, it is best to simply help the dog get through it. There are both plastic and hard rubber toys made for teething puppies. You an also give your pup ice cubes to play with, or tie a knot in a wash cloth, then freeze it. Whenever he seems to be uncomfortable, let the pup play with these frozen items. Sometimes the frozen wash cloth will only work with very small dogs. You also shouldn't give items that might confuse the dog in what belongs to him or to you. I like to let my teething puppies chew on frozen bagels. This way he gets to eat it after going through the work of gnawing it while it thaws. I purchase a big bag of tiny bagels. These treats seem to work well.

Mouthing - At as young as 8 weeks, it is normal for puppies to have sharp little teeth. They tend to bite when they become playful and excited. Biting behaviors should always be discouraged. This is what puppies use to communicate to each other. Some owners like to rough up their pups, which may encourage the dog to return with a small bite. This type of behavior should always be discouraged.

Boredom - Your pooch may become bored and restless if he is left alone for a long time. To help him pass the time, give him activities that involve chewing. The best thing you can do is allow your dog more exercise. Keep in mind that walking some dogs relaxes and tires them, but for other dogs a walk can make them energized and pumped up. It's best to you walk your dog, then take time to relax together. This allows for bonding time with your dog and will reinforce your relationship. Don't forget that frozen cooked pizza dough or bagels are also good chew toys.

Fear - Many times, dogs may chew out of fear. For example, numerous dogs are afraid of thunderstorms. Also your dog may bark and chew at the window frames when another dog is walking past the window. These are both examples of defensive behavior. The "down and stay" command covered in earlier dog reports, is one of the best ways to stop this type of behavior. Teaching this command while in a positive situation, will be beneficial when the dog is displaying the negative behavior. First get the dog away from the window, then give him the "down stay" command. Sit with your dog for a moment to allow them time to relax. This gives the dog a chance to calm down.

Play - If your dog bites and chews during play time, it usually means he needs more training. Some dogs simply have more energy than others. These dogs usually require a strong exercise program in addition to the training. Play time should be structured, such as practicing jumping, or playing fetch. During exercise and play, practice multiple "down stays" both inside and outside.

Attention Seekers - Occasionally, dogs are simply looking for their owners to pay more attention to them. Some of these plays for attention include stealing, chewing, barking, limping and spinning. Most dog owners regard chewing as a negative behavior, but for a dog seeking attention, negative attention is better than none at all. If you give it no attention, the negative behavior will usually disappear.

Just Tastes Good - If something tastes good a dog will want to chew it. Certain things are palatable to dogs. This means the dog enjoys the feel of it in their mouth. Shoes, stuffed animals and wooden or leather furniture are a few examples. While the puppy is in the chewing stage, it is best to dog proof your house and not leave these types of things around your dog.

Chewing is usually not a problem if the dog is healthy, has room to roam, gets plenty of exercise and has a space of his own. Again, frozen bagels will help to cure the chewing.
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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