In this fourth installment of our blog series, Dogs will be Dogs, we will discuss chewing issues.
From puppyhood to adulthood, dogs LOVE chewing. It is a need, it is a way to help themselves relax, and it is a very enjoyable activity. As with many problems, chewing is a normal dog behavior, and understanding the motivation of the chewing is very important if you’re looking to address any destructive chewing your pup may engage in.
Puppies are very similar to human babies–EVERYTHING goes into their mouths! It’s how they explore the world, and they have an actual physical need to chew in order to help alleviate the pains of teething. By the time hit six to seven months of age, they should have all their adult teeth so things will get easier at that point. In the meantime, it’s important to be patient and have LOTS of desirable alternatives.
- All-natural animal parts of all kinds are absolutely great for puppies. Bully sticks, pig snouts, tracheas, chicken feet, cow cheeks and hooves, and much more disgusting (wink) delights are some of the best options you can invest in. We’re not a huge fan of rawhides, but we do love the Earth Animal No-Hide bones, and raw bones you can get from your butcher. Be careful with elk antlers–they can be a little hard for those tiny puppy teeth–so you want to make sure they do not chew too heavily for too long on those so be mindful of this.
- Nylabones can be great and if their flavor wears away, you can soak them in a hot broth to “refresh” them to make them more appealing.
- Dental chews of all kinds are available on the market, from CET chews to Greenies and more.
- Kongs and other enrichment toys that you can stuff with a variety of food, including their regular ration, are some of our favorites. Kongs can easily be frozen as well, which can soothe puppy teeth. We’re also big fans of the West Paw Design line of toys for enrichment as well as their tug and retrieve toy options.
- Even taking old clothing strips and wetting them, twisting them together to leave them in the freezer and then take out as needed for your puppy’s relief can be a good alternative.
In ALL these cases you will want to supervise your puppy to ensure he won’t get hurt. The Nylabones should be taken away if they’re destroying them into little bits, and rope toys as well as the clothing strip option we mentioned can be very dangerous when left alone. Kongs and other similar products, as well as all-natural chews can be generally safer for unsupervised time but be very careful and supervise whenever you give something new to ensure they don’t hurt themselves.
Remember your puppy will require patience and understanding. I call them puppy piranhas for a reason!
Chewing can be a very fun activity. If a dog doesn’t have enough outlets, they may engage in fun you’d rather they not! All dogs should get mental and physical activity daily to be happy and have a great quality of life. Taking sniff walks, enjoying tricks training, doing nose work and scent games, practicing manners and going for outings in the park–there are so many wonderful activities you can do with your dog to engage them. If you’re running short on time, you can hire us for Day Training, consider hiring a dog walker or jogger, or finding a quality daycare option to help fill in gaps. We are happy to help provide referrals for professionals so just ask!
Anxiety or Stress
Some destructive chewing results as a symptom of underlying anxiety or stress. The dog may have separation anxiety or isolation distress, or they may be afraid of something that is happening that causes them to stress, and therefore chew as a way to try and alleviate the stress they’re experiencing. In these cases it is VERY important to never punish the dog. We do not use unpleasant consequences to punish a dog as a way to train. This can actually increase fear and anxiety, and make fixing the problem more difficult.
Setting up video cameras or other monitoring devices can help you see what is happening if it is while you are away, so you can better determine what is happening to cause the anxiety, or also rule out boredom. It can be hard to know for sure without doing such homework. If your dog is experiencing stress while you are away, or if you know it is caused by stressful events or triggers, we urge hiring a professional to help you. If you are struggling with destructive chewing, nothing can replace the value of hiring an experienced professional.
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Owner, Delightful Doggies