Dog Psychology 101
Like human babies, puppies use their mouths to explore and get to know their world, which can cause them to chomp down on almost anything they encounter, from your smelly old shoes to furniture, electrical cords, toxic plants, paper...and your favorite pricy sweater.
You might be surprised to learn that dogs don't chew our possessions to spite us. They just love scents that remind them of their owners (this explains why your shoes and sports gear may prove to be too much of a temptation). They also live in the moment, so won't connect the items they've destroyed with your anger and any discipline you might administer as a consequence.
Reasons Your Dog Chews
Your dog may chew for many reasons (none of which are to spite you). Dog chewing problems may occur due to:
- Natural instinct
- Attempting to relieve fear or anxiety
- Seeking attention
How to Stop a Dog From Chewing
Dogs do not understand our moral judgements on right vs. wrong. Therefore, they won't be able to connect your anger and discipline to their actions (such as chewing up your things).
Contrary to what you might hope, a dog is unlike a child in that they won't understand or change their behavior after being punished, so we shouldn't muzzle, spank or scold them. Try these tips instead:
Keep Valuables Tucked Away
Got some new sneakers or stiletto heels you’d rather keep free from your dog’s chompers? Place them high on a shelf, or in another place they can’t reach.
Provide In-depth Training & Adequate Supervision
For puppies, close supervision at home is key as they learn good habits and what not to do.
Give Time for Exercise & Stimulation
Pet parents will learn early on that a tired puppy or dog is a happy one. Learn your pup’s energy levels and needs, then tailor exercise and playtime to him. Use 20 to 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise as a rule of thumb, unless your vet discovers a medical issue that prevents this.
How Your Vet Can Help
Fortunately, excessive dog chewing behavior dwindles by around 18 months of age for most, but will likely continue to some degree, depending on your dog’s breed and other factors, for their entire life. If you see excessive chewing, consult your veterinarian. They can:
- Check for medical reasons your dog might be chewing and provide treatment
- Advise whether you should let certain items pass, when your dog needs to come in for an exam and when you should induce vomiting if he or she has chewed an inappropriate item
- Provide advice and pointers for modifying your dog’s behavior
- Suggest appropriate chew toys, treats, deterrents or training methods
At Broad Street Veterinary Hospital we can perform a full health checkup and provide advice on how to solve this frustrating problem.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.