When Chewing Becomes a Problem

Excerpt from "The Big Book of Simple Solutions"

Excerpt from The Big Book of Simple Solutions

We often think that puppy chewing is cute. We might say, “Look at her toss her head with that envelope in her mouth!” We ignore this cute behavior until something valuable is destroyed, then we want to put a stop to it. By that time, however, the chewing of anything and everything is a habit that’s difficult to break.

Preventing inappropriate chewing is not just good for your furniture and clothing but can save your dog’s life. Dogs who chew electrical cords run the risk of death by electrocution. Dogs who steal garbage, cat food, or rich treats are at risk for pancreatitis, a potentially fatal inflammation of the pancreas. Dogs who eat socks, rocks, or children’s toys can suffer life-threatening intestinal blockages.

Destructive chewing is also harmful to your dog, as it frequently causes feelings of boredom, loneliness, and isolation. Dogs are intelligent, social animals who need the stimulation of activity and companionship. The psychological stress of being left alone on a regular basis can lead to phobias or anxieties that result in chewing as escape behavior (for instance, chewing through doors or windows) or chewing for relief (for example, when the dog is left alone or when a change occurs in the household, such as a new baby or a new work schedule).

Because chewing is so enjoyable and calming, dogs want to do it again and again. That desire to chew can become a good habit or a bad habit, depending on what dogs learn to chew and the quality of interaction they have with their owners.

If you have a puppy, you’ll need to start teaching her good habits in puppyhood. Given the opportunity, she’s going to chew everything she can get her teeth on. Besides being entertaining, it’s simply her way of exploring her territory. When your puppy decides to chew on an electrical cord, it’s because she doesn’t yet know that the cord isn’t a toy like her hard rubber ball or bone. Teaching your puppy right chewing from wrong chewing requires a two-pronged approach: making your home safe for the puppy (and from the puppy) and redirecting improper chewing.

Article Categories:
Behavior and Training · Dogs