Excerpt from The Big Book of Simple Solutions
Chewing: Why Do Dogs Chew?
They gnaw on knickknacks, suck on socks, chew on chair legs. Their destructive power is roughly equivalent to that of a minor atomic weapon—at least, that’s the way it looks when you discover it. Stuffing pulled out of sofas, new designs nibbled into wallpaper, drywall exposed, wood floors destroyed. All this, while brand-new chew toys lie in the rubble, still pristine.
What causes dogs to chew and chew and chew? And how can you channel their chewing constructively?
Dogs chew for many reasons. Young dogs have a physiological need to chew. Chewing helps them to exercise and develop their jaws. Six-week-old puppies have a set of baby teeth (your veterinarian may refer to them as deciduous teeth). Through the process of teething, all the baby teeth will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth. Puppies start to lose their baby teeth when they’re six to seven months old, but permanent teeth don’t fully come in until dogs are about one year old. During this time, puppies chew a lot. Chewing helps relieve the pain of teething and is a perfectly normal part of puppy growth and development. One solution to help relieve teething pain is to freeze an old wet washcloth and give it to your pup to chew on.
Puppies also go through an intense play period, and one of the things that puppies do in play is chew. It’s fun to chew things up and see the pieces go flying!
Older dogs chew because it’s pleasurable or soothing for them. Chewing helps relieve boredom. It also helps keep dogs’ teeth and gums strong and healthy. Dogs with irritated or painful gums from gingivitis may chew excessively to help relieve the pain. Some dogs chew when they’re feeling nervous or stressed. Often, their chewing results from separation anxiety. In all these instances, chewing is a repetitive activity that’s soothing and just plain feels good. Sort of like playing solitaire.
Of all the reasons dogs chew, spite isn’t one of them. You may feel as if your dog has destroyed your favorite pair of $200 sandals because you don’t spend enough time with her, but face it, dogs just aren’t wired that way. While they’re pretty darn smart, they aren’t capable of thinking, I’ll teach her to leave me alone for twelve hours straight. I’ll go find her favorite, most expensive pair of shoes and eat them! The belief that dogs do things to get back at us is a myth that should have been retired long ago.
Now that you know why dogs chew, it’s time to examine your dog’s chewing habits and your responses to them. Believe it or not, your dog can learn to chew just her toys, not yours. Teaching your dog what’s okay to chew and what’s not takes patience and consistency, but the savings in money and frustration are well worth the effort. And when your puppy is chewing on a toy, she’s not barking, digging, or otherwise getting into trouble.
Click on the following links to learn more about
When Chewing Becomes a Problem >>
Dog-Proofing Your Home >>
What Should Dogs Chew? >>
Teaching Your Dog to Chew Toys >>
Ways to Redirect Problem Chewing >>
Preventing a Chewing Problem >>