Why Dogs Chew and How to Prevent Destructive Chewing

Dogs of all ages love to chew. Chewing is a habit that begins as soon as a pup can move around. Like babies, puppies use their mouths to explore the world around them. They chew their siblings, their bed, and even you if you let them. Chewing helps a puppy deal with the discomfort of incoming teeth. Babies use teething rings and puppies chow down on a plastic toy. Older dogs love to chew too. They like nothing better than a tasty bone or a chew toy. It helps them relax and relieves boredom.

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Chewing is Natural

Chewing is a natural behavior, so if your dog loves his favorite all natural elk antler chews, you can rest assured that he’s just like every other mutt out there. However, there are instances when chewing is destructive and undesirable behavior, so if your dog is chewing the furniture, your designer shoes, and anything else he can get his sharp little teeth into, read on for some helpful advice.

Puppy Teething Time

A puppy’s permanent teeth break through between three weeks and six months. During this time, a puppy will chew anything and everything, so the onus is on you to make sure you keep precious items, shoes, and anything else you don’t want him to destroy, well out of reach. If your pup continues to be destructive past one year, it is likely to be another underlying cause or medical problem. Both need to be addressed before the destructive chewing becomes an ingrained – and difficult to correct – behavioral problem.

Rule Out Medical Issues

Before you look at potential behavioral issues, take your dog to the vet to rule out any medical problems. Chewing can relieve painful teeth and gums, so your dog could have issues in this department if he won’t stop chewing. Look out for bad breath, excessive salivating, and a reluctance to eat biscuits, as they all indicate teething problems or gum disease. Once you have ruled out any medical causes for your dog’s destructive chewing, it is time to consider whether he has a behavioral problem.

Separation Anxiety

Destructive chewing often occurs when a dog is left alone. Dogs often form very close bonds with their humans and separation anxiety is a very real problem. Some dogs don’t mind being left alone for a few hours, but others pine and get very stressed. The best way to solve destructive chewing caused by separation anxiety is to not leave your dog alone for long periods. Dogs should not be left alone for six or more hours, so if you work full-time, don’t get a dog or find a pet sitter to take care of your dog while you work.

Positive Reinforcement

Discourage your dog from chewing inappropriate objects by giving him healthy dog chews, such as elk antler chews. Praise him when he chews his toys. Positive reinforcement helps a dog learn appropriate behavior.

Play with your dog and make sure he doesn’t get bored. Plenty of exercise and playtime is good for your dog’s mental and physical health. If he’s tired and relaxed, he is less likely to chew.

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