It is very common for dogs, especially young dogs, to chew just about everything in their site. Dogs use their mouths as a means to explore and figure out the world around them, and sometimes this has some unfortunate consequences to dog owner's and their belongings. However, this problem is not permanent and there are a few things you can do to help aid in your dog's inappropriate chewing habits. Implement these 5 steps early on to make sure it doesn't turn into a long standing problem.
Step 1: Find out WHY
Figuring out the root of your dog's inappropriate chewing habits is the first step to correcting the problem. If you are dealing with a puppy, chances are they are most likely teething, but there are few other reasons your dog might be chewing. Common reasons for chewing other than teething include hunger and separation anxiety. However, there can be more serious underlying causes. For example, gastrointestinal problems can cause nausea, which often time leads to chewing as a coping mechanism. It is important to see your vet if you do not know why your dog is chewing, ensuring you rule out any serious medical issues.
Step 2: Puppy Proof
Often times, there are certain things lying around the house that are "danger zones" to a curious pup. Make sure you do not have any toxic chemicals or cleaners in a place your dog could possibly access. It is hard to always be on top of this, but try your best to not leave anything of value in reach of your puppy as well. Shoes, socks, blankets and other objects commonly lying on the floor are the first thing puppies aim to destroy, so taking the time to put away those new boots will help you out in the long run! It is also important to cover any electrical cords as it could result in electrocution if your dog happened to chew on them. If it is too much work to proof every room in the house, proof what you can and make sure to close doors or block access to any rooms that are "danger zones" when your dog is unsupervised.
Step 3: TOYS! TOYS! TOYS!
Encouraging positive chewing habits from a young age isn't as easy as it may sound, but committing to this will save you a lot of ruined clothing and furniture in the future. Give your dog chew toys that they can enjoy. Different dogs like different toys, so try a few options until you see a particular liking towards a certain type. Bones can be helpful, but serious chewers can risk swallowing and choking on the smaller pieces they break off. (Note: rawhide, beef and dental chewsticks recommended, avoid chicken bones as they splinter easily) It is also important to pick toys that do not resemble household items you do not want to be chewed on! Your dog will most likely not know the difference!
Step 4: Discourage Negative Chewing
The first step to discouraging negative chewing, is encouraging the positive (as we stated above). However, when you do find your dog chewing on inappropriate objects, make sure to immediately take the object away and "scold" him or her. Once you take away the object, replace it with a toy your dog is allowed to chew on. Eventually, your dog will learn what it can and cannot chew on. If the inappropriate chewing is already constant, as with older dogs, it might be helpful to try adding apple cider vinegar or other bitter tasting liquids to the objects you are trying to avoid being chewed on.
Step 5: Maximize Stimulation, Minimize Boredom
A lack of stimulation, mental and physical, often causes dogs to exert energy in destructive chewing. These behaviors can be fixed with increased play time at the dog park, longer walks, or your classic back yard fetch. Dogs are a lot of work, and by having a dog in your home you accept the responsibility to keep up this work.
The amount of love they bring to us should be reciprocated back to them, so make sure to keep them stimulated so they don't give you any reason to love them any less. Finding the root of the problem is crucial, and dealing with the underlying causes from there will be much easier. And of course, do not forget to give your dog their daily dose of Flea Away, one more "encouraging" thing for them to chew on!