How To Stop A Dog From Chewing
Let’s be honest, here. Dogs love to chew. I mean, they love to chew!
Chewing is part of a dog’s instinct! Dogs exploring the world through their mouths and noses is equal to the way humans explore the world with our hands and eyes. In fact, anyone who’s been around a human infant has witnessed how much we explore the world by putting everything in our mouth during that phase, too!
But, when the target of your dog’s oral infatuation is your very expensive shoes, designer furniture, or heirloom plant…well that’s what brings you here, isn’t it?
As with most of my dog behavior classes, I disappoint readers immediately by admitting that “how to stop a dog from chewing” does not come with a simple answer.
As with most unfavorable dog behaviors, it’s important for us to dig into the causes of chewing behaviors, different symptoms, and types of chewing in order to offer solutions to each.
So, whether your toy poodle is chewing her own tail or your lab has shredded the patio furniture for the third time, we’ll explore the world of frustrating dog chewing behaviors and how to get a dog to stop chewing things you don’t want them to.
Why Do Dogs Chew?
1. Boredom. Bored dogs are destructive dogs. This goes for a lot of animals. In fact, in studies of animal behavior in zoos, it was shown that behaviors like chewing non-food items, obsessive licking, and over-grooming fade by as much as 90% when mental stimulation and enrichment is present. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/zoo.20091)
What does this mean for your dog? If your pooch is roaming the house all day while you’re at work, find ways to create some mental stimulation for him. Treat puzzles and toys are the simplest options.
Or, learn some fun ways to provide Mental Stimulation For Dogs here. (https://www.thelabradorsite.com/mental-stimulation-for-dogs/)
2. Dental issues/teething. During the period from ages 4 weeks to 30 weeks, puppies are teething. This means their teeth are growing rapidly, and it’s uncomfortable. Chewing is a natural way to relieve some of the discomfort of teething.
For that matter, chewing can relieve the pain and discomfort of any kind of dental issues. If you have an adult dog that is no longer teething, it’s important to have a veterinarian check to ensure there are no other medical problems with your dog’s teeth that might be causing discomfort.
3. Anxiety. Dogs that are anxious are very likely to become destructive. If your dog chews furniture, walls, doorframes, or window frames while he’s home alone, it’s very likely that anxiety is the cause.
What could be causing the anxiety? That’s an even deeper investigation, unfortunately.
Picture this: you’re a dog home alone. Your human friend has left you in charge of the house for several hours every day. But every day, a stranger walks by the front window, pauses, then fiddles with the front door.
Is this a bad person? What are they doing at your house? Your human friend will be so upset! So, you bark and scream your head off and chase that stranger away – every day.
And you get so worked up and angry that you can’t reach this horrible stranger that you take your anger out by chewing on the window frame until you get exhausted and take a nap. Phew. Good thing you were there.
Could your dog be dealing with barrier aggression at the postman every day? Could he be transferring his aggression to the window frames and furniture? Very possible.
Another scenario could be separation anxiety. If your dog gets very nervous and upset when left alone, her anxiety could lead her to gnaw on whatever’s lying on the floor. Much like how you chew your fingernails when you’re nervous.
To learn more about separation anxiety and how to resolve your dog’s chewing behavior, click here. (https://thehappypuppysite.com/separation-anxiety-in-dogs/)
4. Not enough physical exercise. Dogs need at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. That includes running, playing, fast walking, etc.
For high energy dogs and larger breeds, it’s more.
So if your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, pent-up energy could be coming out in the form of chewing on whatever happens to be lying around the house.
5. Breed instinct. Some breeds are shaped by behaviors that pair with chewing. Therefore, some breeds are naturally more inclined to love to chew than others.
Examples include retrievers, who have a high instinct to grab things in their mouth and hold (or gnaw) them.
Also, it includes terriers and other hunting dogs that are predisposed to chasing and killing prey. It’s just that sometimes the “prey” is the couch cushion or a towel that Fifi has shredded to bits. These include Jack Russell terriers, schnauzers and dachshunds.
In an article from The Telegraph, it was revealed that Esure Pet Insurance interviewed 3,000 dog owners to find out if there were commonalities among certain breeds for being more destructive than others. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2675410/Great-Danes-and-Chihuahuas-are-the-most-destructive-dogs.html)
The results were compiled into a list of the top 10-20 breeds that caused the most destruction in homes. Looking through the list and reasoning for each, there are a few more generalizations we can come to regarding chewing behaviors.