Today, our Egg Harbor Township vets explain some reasons why dogs chew and offer tips to help stop this destructive behavior.
The Psychology of Dogs
Puppies are similar to humans in that they use their mouths to explore their new world. This could compel them to chew or eat anything they set their eyes on, such as smelly old shoes, furniture, and even toxic plants and electrical cords.
While it may be shocking to find out that dogs don't chew to annoy us, they love scents that make them think of their owners, this is why our canine friends often target shoes and sports equipment. They also live in the moment, so won’t connect their destruction with your anger and any subsequent discipline.
Why Dogs Chew
It may be hard to believe but, your dog doesn't chew just to spite you. There are various reasons for this behavior, including:
- Lack of training
- Natural instinct
- To seek attention
- To relieve anxiety or fear
How to Stop a Dog from Chewing
Because dogs don’t understand right from wrong or connect your anger and discipline to their actions (like chewing up your shoes), they won’t understand or change their behavior after being punished. So don’t spank, scold, or muzzle them. Instead, try these:
Exercise and stimulation
A tired puppy or dog is a happy one. Learn your pooch’s energy levels and needs and tailor exercise and playtime to them. Use 20 to 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise as a benchmark, unless they have a medical problem that prevents this.
Supervision and Training
Puppies have to be taught good habits and what they can and can't do, so it's essential to supervise them closely at home.
Keep valuables out of reach
Make your home “dog-proof”. If you have a shiny new pair of designer pumps or golf shoes that you want to keep out of your dog's mouth keep them in a safe place they can’t reach.
Do not reward behaviors you want to stop
When your puppy nips your fingers, shriek, pull back, and leave the room. When your dog snatches a valuable item and runs off, quell the urge to chase them. Instead, call them to you and offer a treat or toy in exchange for the item being chewed.
Ways your vet can help
Thankfully, excessive chewing behaviors in most dogs usually start to fade when they are roughly 18 months old, however, they will probably continue chewing to some degree, based on their breed and other elements their whole life. If you notice your dog excessively chewing contact your veterinarian who will be able to:
- Provide advice and pointers for modifying your dog’s behavior
- Check for medical reasons your dog might be chewing and provide treatment
- Suggest appropriate chew toys, treats, deterrents, or training methods
- Advise whether you should let certain items pass, when your dog needs to come in for an exam and when you should induce vomiting if he or she has chewed an inappropriate item
At Newkirk Family Veterinarians our vets are able to conduct a complete health checkup of your pooch and offer you advice on how to resolve this irritating issue.