Dogs have been known to chew almost everything from doors, windows, and car seat belts to balloons, books, mobile phones and underwear! So what is going on, and what’s the reason for all this chewing?
Before you begin to put together a solution for your dog or puppy’s chewing, it’s important to understand the real cause of the behavior. You need to be a bit of a detective.
So here are the 5 most common reasons that your dog or puppy is chewing and what you can do about it.
Reason #1 – Puppy teething
Puppies love to chew and it’s one way they discover the world. They don’t use their paws the same way that we use our hands to investigate.
Also, just like with young kids where teething can be painful, there is (for some dogs) a degree of pain when their new teeth are coming through. To help them with this they chew. It releases pleasurable endorphins into the bloodstream which help to deal with the pain.
It’s best not to try and stop this chewing… just simply redirect your puppy onto their chew toys. One thing to consider is the texture of the toy. It’s no use giving a young puppy a solid plastic lump that they can’t get their teeth into.
They will far prefer a soft toy. And if your puppy keeps chewing something harder then maybe find them something they can really get their teeth into.
Reason #2 – Dogs that are bored
If your dog is left a long time alone with no toys or no new toys, they may well become bored go exploring… looking for adventure: “Hey what’s this… looks like a broomstick and the handle smells of Mum and Dad… I know it’s not really mine, but I’m bored…”
However if your dog had been given something to keep their mind occupied beforehand they would probably leave your kitchen broom alone. Maybe consider something new to chew on like a solid rubber ball. Again making sure they have a decent supply of fun toys to chew and play with is the key. And giving them plenty of exercise and stimulation is vital too.
To keep your pups entertained, chewing on the things you want and not your furniture, check out:
Reason #3 – Their toys aren’t labeled
Often dogs and puppies are simply not aware of what is theirs and what is not. After all its unlikely that your dog’s toys are clearly labeled! And since we have touched nearly everything in our homes, everything has our scent on it, so we need to make it very clear when it is their toy to chew so there is no misunderstanding.
The best and easiest way to do this is to very simply call them over to their bed when you have something to give them, then say “This is for Oscar” whilst putting it into their mouth and then praising them as they chew it. If they go to chew something they shouldn’t, calmly take it off them and replace it with a similar item that they can chew.
Reason #4 – Tastes or feels good
When something smells of you, it instantly becomes more interesting to your puppy or dog. So a smelly sock is more interesting than a clean one! And natural fibres are often more interesting than synthetic, so a leather gardening glove that you’ve been wearing can become a highly desirable item to a young dog!
In this situation it’s a case of putting used clothing in the wash bin, as my mother would say, and giving your dog as many interesting items to keep them happy as you can! So set your dog up to win and keep it simple… oh, and that way you’ll also have a tidy bedroom! The same applies to garden fertilizers such as blood and bone (it smells good to dogs!) and bags of dog food. If it can be moved and put securely out of the way then that’s a great solution! Remember…Keep It Simple.
Reason #5 – Stress related chewing when you are not home
Okay. I left this one till last because for me it’s the big one. It’s the one that people miss. Because this type of chewing is actually a symptom of separation anxiety.
Chewing as we discussed earlier releases endorphins into the blood which help ease stress. It’s the same reason that many people will chew gum or finger nails when they become stressed. So if you have a dog or puppy who seems to turn into a chewing machine when you leave, then I would suggest they probably have separation anxiety. Especially if it’s combined with barking, whining, self mutilation, digging or trying to escape. Classic signs for this are chewing doors and windows to get out, chewing items that you handle a lot such as phones, keys, books, glasses, remote controls and washing off the line.
Separation anxiety is a serious issue where the hierarchy of the pack is not clear to the dog and they believe it’s their job to protect you. In this situation leaving down chew toys or bones is not going to help you.
The best analogy is to imagine you are looking after a young child at home. You are responsible, and suddenly you realise that they have walked off down the street. Do you relax with a cup of tea? What about if you are offered a box of chocolates? No, nothing will calm you down. The only thing that matters is finding them, and if you are locked inside the home and can’t get out you may very well start chewing some gum and your fingernails!
The simple way to solve this serious issue is to understand the game of ‘who’s in charge’ that your dog is playing. Once the pack structure is clear to them, you’ll find they’re more than happy for you to come and go as often as you please. To see how I’ve trained over 77,000 dogs (many of which had chewing problems) read this now!
Best of luck with the chewing…
~Doggy Dan 🙂
our one-year-old Chessy (only had her for 3 months) is quite the jumper. Any hints on stopping this? She jumps to our hands when we stand, and for every other reason, esp squirrels in trees when on a leash walking.
I have an approximately 8 year old female Chihuahua. She has a very nasty attitude towards other people, besides my husband and I, other dogs and small children. She growls, bares her teeth, and if pushed will snap and nip. She was a rescue because she was found in a store parking lot. I got her when she was a year old. This attitude is very disconcerting as she is a very cute dog and lots of people want to pet her and love on her. Is there any help for her? Thank you, Cindy
Sent from my iPad
Many dogs can view strangers as something that may be potentially dangerous and should be avoided. If your dog has been given good reason to see people as a negative thing then she will be especially wary of strangers. While her behaviour is understandable it is also something you can overcome and help her relax a little more. My biggest piece of advice is to ensure that she has choice in whether or not she interacts with strangers, avoid them approaching her to say ‘hi’ as she will not appreciate her personal space being invaded by someone who may be potentially dangerous in her eyes. I always advise to ask strangers to call a dog to them if they want to say ‘hi’ BUT only if the dog is relaxed in their presence.
There is a lot more to overcoming this behaviour than I can run you through here. My website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com shows you very clearly how to achieve this…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan
My new puppy can’t get enough water. This makes him pee every 20 minutes. I have taken up the water bowl, makes it hard on the cats and other dog. Igive him water in his kibble and then another cup mid morning and mid afternoon and about 1-2 hours before bed. He tries to get into the toilet, the water hose outside, the bird bath. He even goes out and licks, the morning dew off the grass. In all my doggie years I have never seen this.
Every dog is different in terms of the amount of water they drink but certainly if you are concerned then a trip to the vet for reassurance is a great idea. Some factors that do effect how much a dog/puppy drinks are the weather, activity levels and the food they are eating. If your dog is a larger breed then their metabolic rate can also require more water to grow and function. It is important that you do leave water down for your puppy to access freely, this should be an unlimited resource that they can access whenever they need to. My gut feeling here is to visit your Vet to ensure your puppy is in good health. Best, Doggy Dan
My groomer is the who told me to hold off on the water. However, now that there is some snow on the ground, he spends is time outside licking and eating snow as well as his other favorite pastime, finding and eating leaves and leaf stems. leavesdind findinand
I’m not sure what reason your Groomer had for advising that you restrict water from your dog but water should be freely available at all times. Water is a critical part of staying healthy and should be freely available for this reason. If you need help with your puppy’s chewing then my website TheOnlineDogTrainer.com covers this behaviour…maybe take a quick look…its a $1 trial for 3 days…all the best Doggy Dan
Hi! I’m doing an essay and I used this article, could you tell me the date you wrote it?
I wrote the article around July 2015 I think. All the best with your essay…Doggy Dan
I can,t get in touch with you. your email address is wrong ,I am usingdoggydan.com NZ doggydan@ the online dog trainer.com both have been returned so could you please help me out even a postal address
This is the email to get in touch with our team firstname.lastname@example.org so I am not sure why it is bouncing back to you.It looks like you have some spaces in the email address above so please ensure this is not the case when you try again. All the best…Doggy Dan
Hi dan. Any suggestions for stopping a dog barking when she wants to come out of her pen or come in from outside? When she’s in her pen, and she barks, we put her in her crate and cover it up, as a timeout and that settles her, but when she’s outside I don’t want her to disturb the neighbours, but I don’t want to bring her in because that’s rewarding the bark. Any suggestions?
Hi. Dogs are pack animals by nature and they do like to be with the family rather than separated from it. Having said that it is different for all individual dogs and some are quite happy to spend time outside alone or in their pen/crate. If your dog does bark to be let in or out then it’s important not to tell them off for the behaviour as this is counterproductive. Just wait for 10-15 seconds of silence and you can then let them in but delay greeting them until they have calmed down for a few minutes. Hope that helps…Doggy Dan
I am so grateful to have met the calm and gentle way. I think it has helped me to become calm and so is win win for me and my dogs. Big thanks x
Hi Do, yes I have found that the calmer and gentler I have become around the dogs the more they have chosen to respond…if you enjoy working out the energetic side of working with dogs you may enjoy my book “What the dogs taught me about being a parent” – you can take a look here… https://theonlinedogtrainer.com/my-new-book-is-out/ its not that new anymore, however its been translated into Chinese and last week was translated into Romanian!
All the best Do, Doggy Dan
Thanks a lot dear Doggy Dan as this information has really helped me a lot to understand the behavior of my dog in different situations. Thank you so much.
Hi Venu, you are very welcome. Blessings to you and your dogs. Dan