Chewing and Destructive Behavior in Dogs

Dogs don’t chew out of anger or spite. They chew because they are dogs and dogs have a natural, instinctual desire to chew. It helps alleviate discomfort in teething puppies, and relieves stress and boredom in dogs of all ages. Above all other reasons, it’s enjoyable – chewing feels good! Chewing itself is often not what gets dogs into trouble, it’s what they chew that can strain your relationship. Take the time to provide your dog with an appropriate chew toy!

An appropriate chew toy is NOT:

  • An old shoe, sock or any other article of clothing. While dogs can be trained to discriminate between their toys and items that are off limits, it’s an extra step in training and it may be easier to allow them strictly dog toys.
  • A consumable item such as a dog biscuit or a rawhide. A toy ingested within 5-10 minutes is not a chew toy.

An appropriate chew toy IS:

  • A toy that can be chewed on until the dog is exhausted; often made of hard rubber or plastic.
  • Toys such as “kongs” or hollow, sterilized beef bones. These items can be stuffed with dog treats, peanut butter, cheese spread, canned food, or anything else the dogs finds extremely appealing and that will take some time to lick out.
  • Buster cubes or activity balls are hard plastic toys that can be filled with dry kibble or dry food treats. As the dog “works” the cube or ball (pushes it with his nose), the food is randomly dispersed from the toy. This exercises the dog’s mind and his muscles.

If you are creative with your dog’s toys and provide variety and interest, you will have a dog that is addicted to his toys in no time – instead of chewing on everything else.

  • Until you have trained him what is appropriate to chew on, your dog needs to be supervised so he doesn’t go in search of your toys or your furniture. When you cannot be with your dog in the house, keep him confined with only his toys within reach. Keep laundry and waste paper baskets behind closed doors and shoes in the closet.
  • Re-direct any inappropriate chewing to the chew toys. Take time to praise your dog when he is chewing on the correct items. Let him know what he is doing right!

If you don’t take the time to teach appropriate chewing habits and only reprimand inappropriate chewing, your dog will quickly learn to chew only when you are not present…and he will choose his own object. Remember, dogs need to chew. Best to teach him right because he will find something when you aren’t around!

Separation Anxiety

If your dog is chewing around door frames, window ledges, or tearing up carpeting or tile around exit routes in your home, he may be suffering from separation anxiety. If this occurs or if he is hurting himself (raw nose, raw pads of feet, broken nails or teeth), please contact a professional behaviorist for a consultation.

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