Welcome to another post from the team at Ark Vets! This one’s inspired by our very own staff member Lia and her puppy Cara, who seems determined to chew through all of Lia’s favourite things.
Here’s everything you need to know about your dog and the dreaded problems that can occur with chewing the wrong things.
1. Why do dogs chew?
Chewing is a necessary part of your dog’s brain development, plus it smooths down sharp teeth. It’s also important for them to set their permanent teeth in their jaw by hard chewing. By doing this, they will also have a better chance of good dental health.
2. How can it lead to negative behaviours?
Your dog can develop negative behaviours if their chewing is destroying your possessions. If you come home to a mess and ‘freak out’ at your dog, they will have no idea why this is happening! Your dog will usually submit to your anger in the first couple of instances, but after a while, they may act out in other ways. This can manifest as mild to severe anxiety in your furry friend, or other changes in their temperament. Dogs that are inherently less submissive could even start biting. These negative behaviours can snowball into other issues, such as being made to live outdoors, barking problems, weakening the family’s bond, and in extreme cases, cause the dog to be surrendered.
3. Training tips and tricks
The best thing you can start to do is give your dog an assortment of chew toys with different textures. These can then be used suit the needs of your dog at the time, and to determine if your dog has a particular texture they like to chew. Keep these assortment of toys in the room your dog spends time in.
If you notice your dog likes a certain texture of an inappropriate item (e.g. your favourite pair of shoes), look for toys with a similar texture. Make sure you don’t use human items for toys, as this will confuse your dog.
The destructive chewing stage can last for two years, so to save a lot of grief, make sure your dog has a safe area to rest when they’re not being supervised. A crate, playpen or room with a baby gate (so they can still see through it) are good options. Try not to put them behind a closed door, as they can start clawing at the door and floor. With consistent training and appropriate chew toys, they may be able to have more freedom of the house when they are around 1 year old.
If you notice your dog chewing on something inappropriate, grab a nearby chew toy and calmly say “leave it”, as you squirt the inappropriate item with Bitterant. At this point, get your dog excited about the toy you are holding – but don’t overly tease them! You want your dog to remain interested in chewing. As soon as they want the toy, hand it to them. When they’re settled and chewing, softly praise your dog and go back to what you were doing. Lesson complete! This will be need to be repeated many times, as you want your dog to form strong chewing habits with a dog toy every time. You also want your dog to be open with their chewing, and not hide away.
4. Don’t give up!
The main thing is to not give up! As mentioned, the chewing stage can last a while, so be patient and persevere with training.
Make sure you don’t take out your frustration on your dog is something is damaged while you’re not watching – keep in mind that it is up to you to ensure they are supervised and confined if needed.
Your dog is wonderful companion, so you want to establish great habits for their lifetime. So remember to set them up with the right toys and keep them chewing (on the right things) for their dental health. Your effort in training will result in a happy, toy chewing, healthy member of your family.