Pet Peeves #1- The Chewing Habits of Dogs

June 11, 2014 | By More

The Chewing Habits of Dogs -- powered by ehow
Sophie and Abe, circa 2004

Sophie and Abe, circa 2004

Pet “peeves.”  We love our pets, but let’s face it, they occasionally (or all the freaking time!) do things that make us want to run around in circles, chasing our own tail!  Why do they do these things in the first place?  How do we “fix” these behaviors?  Do we even want to?

Pet “Peeves” topic 1:  CHEWING

Dogs chew.  There is no way around it.  Chewing  is a normal behavior for dogs in the wild and domestic dogs too as they explore the world around them. It cleans their teeth, strengthens their jaws and is an instinctual behavior.   Chewing can be destructive to our household however.  Here are four common reasons for destructive chewing:

1.  Puppy Teething:  Puppies NEED to chew.  It helps comfort their gums as they lose puppy teeth and helps to teach them about their environment.  Although rampant chewing usually subsides around 6 months of age, loving guidance by pet parents can help teach them what is appropriate to chew and can lengthen the lives of our shoes, furniture, baseboards, etc.

Solution:  Puppies should have a variety of chew toys and appropriate bones around them at all times.  Substitute an “approved” puppy chew toy for one that is definitely not appropriate (your hand, clothes, expensive shoes, wires, etc.)  Crating your puppy while you are away with a sturdy chew will help as will an extra walk or bout of exercise!

Abe as a Puppy

Abe as a Puppy

2.  Separation Anxiety– Chewing relieves boredom and ANXIETY!  AHA!  This might explain why your  anxious dog turns into a termite when you leave him alone at home.  This is what he finds comfort in while his main squeeze, his bff, his mom or dad is away.

Solution:  Much like puppies, anxious dogs should have exercise throughout the day.  Walking, running, swimming, a vigorous game of fetch can all help ease the anxious mind.  If you don’t have time to take a long, fast walk before work, have your dog wear a doggy backpack on your usual route.  Much like weights for people, it helps your dog to burn more calories and energy on the walk.

Anxiety wraps can help too.  Many people use the Thundershirt and definitely check out the new anxiety coat on the market, The Rein Coat. Lavender is a calming scent that can be added to your dog’s collar and there are a variety of pheromone collars, sprays and plugins on the market that might help too.

3.  Fabric Sucking:  Weird name I know, but It’s a broad term used for very compulsive behavior such as constant chewing on their bed, relentless chewing on themselves, licking the floor, etc.  If your dog displays these behaviors and you have tried all of the recommendations above, see your veterinarian or a behaviorist.  There is most likely an underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

Solution:  See your veterinarian and/or a behaviorist.

4.  Hunger:  Destructive chewing might be caused by hunger.  Your poor dog just might need more food!  If he is chewing objects that are food related or smell like food this could be the problem.

Solution:  Make sure you are feeding enough food twice a day, try a higher quality food perhaps or one with more meat protein.  And of course, appropriate chews and chew toys throughout the day.

Just remember, chewing is normal and your puppy and older dog should always have a variety of items from safe bones and chews to sturdy toys to keep them busy.  Keeping your pet safe and house intact is important to you and to us!

Please share your pet “peeves” story with us over on our Facebook page!



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Category: Exercise, PACK MOM TV, Pet Nutrition, PET WELLNESS, Safety, Training

About the Author ()

Jenn Fadal is a national Pet Wellness & Lifestyle Expert. In addition to being the founder of her own holistic pet boutique, Wag, this Tampa native can be seen frequently on Media General’s Daytime Television across the country, as well as on FOX, NBC and ABC. She is also a writer and subject matter expert for various publications.

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