Why dogs chew & what to do about It
Dogs chew. Tables, toys, beds, (the occasional leg) – they love getting their teeth into things. Virtually nothing is ‘indestructible’ to a dog, especially one that’s got a ton of determination and a set of powerful jaws. So how can you stop your pet chewing its way through yet another bed?
Why do dogs chew?
Chewing is a natural canine behaviour pattern, and all dogs chew. In young puppies, just like in human children, it helps to relieve the pain of teething as their adult teeth come through. In older dogs it can also help with dental health by getting rid of plaque (which can lead to painful gum disease in dogs), and keeps the jaw muscles strong. However, if a dog suffers from anxiety or becomes bored they may also start to chew on anything close to hand, including their bed. Chewing in adult dogs is an indicator that something is not right, either with their dental health or with their mental well-being.
One of the most common reasons for bed chewing is what is known as ‘separation anxiety’. This is when you leave your dog alone for a period (and it can be just a matter of a half hour run to the shops) and the dog becomes anxious. Dogs are pack animals, and your dog will see you as the leader of their ‘pack’. So being separated from you causes extreme anxiety in some animals, and can be very difficult to combat. This is why many owners come home to find their pet has shredded their bed and blanket while they were away.
Dogs will always chew things, that’s just the nature of the beast! It is almost to stop them once they get their teeth into something, but what you can do is take control of the situation by using products and techniques that minimise the destruction to a more manageable level.
There are dozens of different anti-chew sprays on the market, some recommended by vets, others that are overpriced and not very effective. You can pay anything from a couple of quid to over £20 for anti-chew spray, but bear in mind that there’s no guarantee that they’ll stop your dog from chewing. In fact, the internet is filled with pictures of anti-chew spray bottles that have been destroyed by a pesky pup while the owner was out! Try them, but if they don’t work, there are other options.
It may seem counter-productive to encourage a chewer to start chewing on yet another object, but if you give your dog something that will entertain them and give them the opportunity to chew without destroying their bed, then a chew toy can be surprisingly effective. It’s a diversionary tactic, but it does work.
Some dog beds have indestructible qualities such as dog proof zippers and stitching, whilst incorporating also what are known as ‘extreme’ materials into their make-up. These are basically tough materials, that are resistant to chewing, but are never truly sold as ‘chew-proof’. The advantage of these is that they are often waterproof and mud-proof too, so they’re easy to clean.
If a dog is bed chewing through boredom, then no amount of anti-chew spray will stop them. The key is to keep your pet mentally occupied so that they do not resort to chewing as a relief for boredom or frustration. So make sure you spend plenty of time with your pet, stimulating them through play, using treat puzzles to keep them mentally alert, and of course, plenty of walkies.
Training is a key part of any relationship with a dog, so if you start to notice a puppy hasn’t outgrown the chewing stage then you should start incorporating anti-chew behavioural conditioning into their regime. Something as harmless as a water pistol works wonders – it doesn’t hurt the dog, it surprises them (especially if your aim is good!), and trains them to associate chewing with an unpleasant soaking! You may also find that anti-chew sprays are far more effective with younger puppies, and can help to retrain your dog’s impulse to chew.
Recognise the signs, and show your pup some love!
In summary, there are both physical and psychological reasons that a dog chews to excess, but they can be resolved through a combination of good oral health, chew toys, training and discipline. Products such as sprays may have limited success, but ultimately you will need to try and discover why your dog chews if you want to find a solution. If all else fails then long, long walks that leave your pup too tired to chew are always a great option!
By Raised By Humans