How to Stop Destructive Chewing in Dogs?
I've been in your position, frustrated by my dog's habit of shredding my possessions. Along with feeling upset, I was baffled. Whenever I came home to the mess, Lucy would give me a mournful look. Plus, from her sad body language, I sensed the ruckus was beyond her control.
Bewildered, I took Lucy to our vet for evaluation. Thankfully, the doctor found her healthy. While discussing Lucy's strange behaviour, both the reason and remedy became clear. Since then, I've thoroughly researched this problem, wanting to help other dog owners.
Now, with this post, I'm eager to tell you what I've learned. Here's how to stop destructive chewing in your beloved pup.
Take a moment to view your dog's life from their perspective. Could it be they lack enough mental stimulation or exercise? If you suspect this is true, trashing your belongings could be their new hobby.
Dogs are naturally playful and curious. If life is ho-hum, they can get depressed. To occupy themselves, they take up ripping and shredding objects.
A 2017 UK study found that when dogs are bored and lonely, they're at risk for dementia.
Your dog's brain cells or "neurons" need stimulation to stay alive. If your pup is habitually apathetic, its neurons die, causing its brain to shrink.
Also vital for canines is daily exercise. When your pup is tired from playing, they won't have the energy to tear up your home. Plus, exercise generates endorphins, brain chemicals that ease tension and confer joy.
Can you guess what also prompts endorphins? Yes, chewing rouses them, too! So, when your pup doesn't get ample exercise, they resort to gnawing on your belongings.
2. Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety is a type of fear that happens when your dog dreads being apart from you. Typically, they become upset shortly after your departure. Or they may get jittery upon seeing you prepare to leave.
Your pup may react by constantly barking, howling, or whining. They might even block your access to the door! Some dogs pant heavily, run in circles, or pace back and forth. If they're terrified of being alone, they might urinate or soil the floor.
Once you're gone, the home demolition begins.
Did your pup come from a shelter? If so, their angst may stem from prior abandonment. Or perhaps your dog lost their previous owner. Now, they fear you'll disappear as well.
Your dog's panic can reflect a change in your schedule, leaving them alone for long periods. If you've just relocated to a new home, your pup may feel insecure. Has another family member abruptly moved or passed away? In that case, it's understandable if your dog is troubled and afraid.
When returning home, do you often find kitchen garbage strewn across the floor? If so, your dog may not be getting proper nourishment or enough food.
Sometimes switching to new dog food can trigger destructive chewing. This occurs when a formula isn't nutritionally balanced and complete.
Is your dog overweight and on a calorie-restricted diet? In that case, they could be struggling with adapting to less food.
Your dog may chomp on things to relieve tension. Another self-soothing behaviour is licking objects repeatedly.
If your pup is confined to an area, they may find the restriction distressing. So can a disruptive change in your home, such as a newborn baby. Frustration can also spur destructive nibbling. A dog who hates being crated might gnaw at the cage, trying to get free.
5. Medical Conditions
In some cases, a dog's uncontrollable chewing can signal a health problem. Other signs are excessive drooling, poor appetite, or constant thirst.
If your pup compulsively eats non-food items, they could have pica. With this eating disorder, dogs may consume fabric, plastic, metal, paper, dirt, or faeces.
Pica can result from poor nutrition. Or it can reflect a psychological or medical issue. Was your dog adopted from a shelter? If so, and they have a history of prior starvation, this can induce pica. Shelter dogs can also develop "generalised anxiety disorder" caused by previous abuse.
A dog with gastrointestinal problems may chew objects out of discomfort. If your dog suffers from malabsorption, it can lead to a vitamin deficiency.
Normal Chewing Behaviours
Chewing items is natural for all canines, regardless of their age. Here's what's typical for puppies and mature dogs.
Like babies, puppies investigate the world with their mouths. Up to the age of 6 months, a puppy is teething, causing sore gums. Chewing objects soothes their tender mouth tissues. Still, you can protect your belongings from teething damage.
Start by puppy-proofing your home.
Next, teach your puppy what's okay to munch. Toward this end, obtain different types of doggie toys. Sustain your pup's interest by rotating them. Whenever your puppy engages with a chew toy, praise them lavishly. If your cutie is teething, give them a frozen washcloth to numb their mouth.
Mature dogs may nibble objects out of curiosity. Unlike destructive chomping, exploratory chewing is more docile and gentle. Plus, biting a toy while playing is part of the fun! Learn how to choose safe, sturdy toys for your dog.
Types of Destructive Chewing
Some dogs gravitate to hard items, prolonging their pleasure. Examples are remote controls and sports equipment. On a kitchen counter, wooden spoons can be tempting. Also enticing are books and eyeglasses.
2. Separation Anxiety
A dog confined to a room may gnaw on windowsills or door frames. Casualties include broken teeth, injured nails, or wounded paws. Often, nervous dogs find comfort in objects with their owner's scent, such as slippers and T-shirts.
Puppies weaned prematurely, before eight weeks of age, may exhibit fabric sucking.
Anything smelling of food is fair game, including kitchen waste and food containers.
A tense dog will dig their teeth into whatever it can reach. Common objects are toilet paper and pillows, ideal for tearing and ripping. Extremely hazardous are sticks, rocks, water bottles, electrical cords, and ice. Chicken bones can splinter, lodging in your dog's mouth, throat, or digestive tract.
5. Medical Conditions
A dog with pica may ingest paper, fabric, metal, plastic, dirt, or faeces. A pup with a stomachache may find something that induces vomiting.
Ending Ruinous Chewing
Ensure that life is fun and exciting for your dog! Below are engaging methods.
- Indulge your pup in daily walks, varying the route.
- If your cutie behaves well with other canines, take them to a dog park.
- Play interactive games, such as tug-of-war and fetch.
- Fill puzzle toys with peanut butter or dog treats.
- Take a rewards-based training class with your dog. You'll learn clever ways to amuse them, including delightful games.
Meanwhile, safeguard your home by using our All Natural Bitter Apple Spray. This bitter apple spray food-grade product contains a sour extract derived from apples. Since dogs don't like the taste, the spray repels them. Still, if they do venture a lick, the apple extract won't hurt them. Moreover, you'll like the fact that this formula doesn't leave stains or sticky residues. Providing for the perfect anti-chew spray.
2. Separation Anxiety
To encourage your dog to feel calmer, you can increase their tolerance for being alone. For mild separation anxiety, use "counter-conditioning." This involves linking your dog's solitary time to something they enjoy. For instance, before leaving home, tuck irresistible dog treats inside a puzzle toy. The fascinating distraction should help their anxiety fade.
When you return home, put the toy away. By this, your dog will connect spending time alone with puzzle treats, a positive association.
Also helpful is giving your pup All Natural Tranquillity. The safe herbs in this liquid formula bring serenity without sedating your dog.
Give your cutie a dose before heading out. With the included dropper, you can direct the liquid into their mouth. Or you can add it to their food. In these reviews, customers attest to the calming influence of All Natural Tranquillity.
For a dieting dog, give them puzzle toys stuffed with low-calorie treats. Or fill the toys with reduced-calorie dog food. Also, occupy your pup with interactive gadgets that don't involve food.
Daily outings and playing together will lessen a food obsession. If you're not home during the day, arrange for someone else to spend time with your dog.
Do your best to eliminate the source of your dog's tension. Likewise crucial is reserving a spot in your home where your pup will feel secure. Furnish it with a comfy dog bed, placing a chew toy nearby. Rotate your dog's playthings, keeping life interesting.
Also, give your pup All Natural Tranquillity as needed.
Is your pup's nervousness out of control? In that case, consult a professional animal behaviourist. Ask your vet for a referral. Or use this search tool by the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors.
5. Medical Conditions
Along with destructive chewing, if your dog has the following symptoms, bring them to a vet immediately:
- signs of pica - compulsively eating fabric, plastic, metal, paper, dirt, or feces
- weight loss - possibly reflecting a vitamin deficiency, malabsorption, or malnutrition
- other alarming behaviours - such as poor appetite, constant drooling, or excessive thirst
If you catch your cutie trashing your belongings, practice diversion training. The goal is to replace what they're destroying with something else they'll enjoy.
First, interrupt their chomping with a loud noise. An example is shaking a can filled with coins. When your dog releases the captive item, offer a chew toy. As your pup takes it, give them enthusiastic praise.
Another option is swapping the chewed object with a doggy treat. After doing this consistently, add the command "Release" or "Give." Eventually, your pup will learn to trade with you spontaneously.
When you're not home to supervise your pup, prevent the chaos from occurring. One way is by keeping favourite items beyond your dog's reach. What you can't hide, spritz with our All Natural Bitter Apple Spray.
When You're Stumped
If the reason for your dog's unwanted behaviour is unclear, bring them to your vet. Don't spend more than a few days trying to understand your dog. Prompt professional care could save their life!
What Doesn't Work
1. Chasing your cutie.
They may interpret your pursuit as playing.
2. Providing unsuitable toys.
Don't offer things resembling what your dog destroys. For instance, giving them a sock or slipper will confuse them.
3. Showing impatience.
The behavioural modification takes time. During the learning period, try to be at peace with losing some possessions.
4. Punishing your pup.
Since destructive chewing is compulsive, your dog can't help it. Scolding will only frighten your pup or evoke defensiveness. After-the-fact punishment won't make sense to them.
Instead, when you witness the infraction, redirect their focus with a doggy treat or toy. Always praise them for taking the substitute item.
Destructive chewing in dogs stems from the following causes:
- separation anxiety
- medical conditions
Hopefully, reading this post has revealed the root of your dog's misconduct. If not, bring them to your vet. By this, you'll avoid ongoing fiascos. Moreover, you'll promote your dog's safety, health, and happiness.
May your dog's wayward behaviour end soon!
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