Chewing and Destructive Behavior in Dogs



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Chewing is a natural behavior that dogs engage in for a variety of reasons, such as boredom or comfort-seeking. Dogs chew as a natural way to clean their teeth and exercise their jaws, while puppies may chew to relieve discomfort from incoming teeth or to explore the world around them. Dogs consider any object they can fit their mouths around as good objects to chew. As their caretakers, it’s up to us to guide them to appropriate chewing items and discourage them from chewing things that aren’t appropriate.

Provide your dog with appropriate items to chew on at all times.

  • Making sure that your dog has easy access to appropriate items to chew will reduce their urge to chew on things they shouldn’t. Appropriate items to chew may include hard rubber toys, like Kongs, or edible chews like marrow bones, knuckle bones or bully sticks.
  • Be clear and consistent from the beginning regarding what is appropriate and what isn’t, and only provide chewing items that you want your dog to chew on. Do not provide your dog with old running shoes to chew on if you don’t want them also chewing on your expensive new shoes!
  • Many dogs prefer to interact with new toys over old, boring toys. Rotating available toys and chews is an easy way to give your dog variety. It also helps the toys last longer!

Discourage chewing of inappropriate items.

  • If you see your dog chewing an off-limits item, interrupt and provide them with an appropriate option. Make sure that you put the confiscated item away, out of paws’ reach so they don’t return to chewing on it!

  • Prevent access to items you don’t want your dog to chew. Make sure shoes are placed in closets with closed doors where possible, wires are blocked or covered, and access to areas that may have a lot of tempting items, like bedrooms is limited.

Supervise

Set your dog up for success by supervising them when they are loose in the house. This is especially important for the first few weeks since your new dog is still just learning what you expect from them. Utilize crates (learn more about crate training) and baby gates when you are unable to supervise them directly to ensure that they can only chew appropriate items.

Exercise

Exercise is important! One reason dogs turn to destructive chewing is because they have excess energy to burn. Providing physical exercise daily will help reduce destructive behavior. Think cardio and remember that some dogs require more exercise than others.

Mental exercise is also important! Provide plenty of mental exercise in the form of training and food dispensing toys. Spend time every day teaching your dog new tricks (like sit, down, paw, etc.). This provides mental stimulation for your dog and gives you a fun and different way to interact with your dog.

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