What to do if your dog is chewing everything


dog is chewing

Even though it is frustrating for owners if their dog is chewing everything, it is a natural behaviour and most dogs love to chew. No matter if you have the best intention, it is almost impossible to get a dog to stop chewing completely. However, there are some things dog owners can implement to help ensure the dog’s chewing behaviour doesn’t get too bad or too destructive. Here is what to do if your puppy chews on everything.

Why do dogs chew?

Before you start to combat the chewing, you must understand why your dog is chewing in the first place. Understanding the root of the problem can help you tackle it effectively head-on. Some of the reasons why dogs chew everything are:
• Boredom
• Stress
• They are suffering from separation anxiety
• It is comforting
• The puppy is teething and is in pain
• Lack of training

Just like humans, dogs are searching for entertainment, and chewing can be enjoyable for them. Chewing is also a way for young puppies to explore their environment, just like a baby does. Though this behaviour can seem malicious, owners must understand that dogs don’t tend to chew out of spite.

How to stop destructive chewing

Of course, you cannot stop dogs chewing completely and all dogs chew to a lesser or greater extent. However, you can train them to stop being destructive and stop chewing on items that they shouldn’t. Before you start addressing the problem, ask yourself the following questions to discover the initial cause of the behaviour:
• Is my puppy teething?
• Do they seem bored?
• Do they seem anxious?
• Has my dog been sufficiently trained?
• Does my dog have enough toys and other items that they can freely chew?
• Is the house puppy-proofed?

Once you have asked and answered these questions, you can start applying the following solutions.

Provide them with plenty of toys

Your dog must have a variety of toys to choose from so that they don’t get bored. Having toys that they can freely chew on can help distract them from other household items that they should not be touching such as cushions, sofas, slippers etc. If you provide your dog with enough chewable toys to keep them entertained, you can train them to only chew these items. When your dog opts for a toy to chew, ensure you praise them so that they repeat this good behaviour.

Puppy Proof your home

Just like a new baby, your home should be analysed to ensure it is safe and appropriate for your puppy to be in. Before bringing a new dog or puppy home, ensure you have put away any items that are chewable and could easily be destroyed. If your dog has immediate access to these items, they will be more likely to continue that behaviour and opting for those items. Move shoes off the floor and place any other items on higher surfaces such as shelves.

Although there are many toys labelled as “chew toys” this does not mean they cannot be destroyed. Many can still be ripped apart which can encourage a puppy to swallow bits. Therefore you must supervise your dog when he is playing with them. You can also try using puzzle toys or food dispensing toys to keep your dog entertained and occupied.

Provide them with a safe place

Although dogs are sociable, they still need a quiet place of their own to go. In many cases, this place is their crate. As long as the crate is not used for punishment, your dog should be content staying in there for a while when they can’t be supervised. This also allows them to make up some much needed uninterrupted sleep.

Exercise

As dog owners know, dogs of all ages need exercise, with some needing more than others. Sometimes behavioural issues such as excessive and destructive chewing can simply be because the dog has too much pent up energy and needs an outlet for it. By playing games with them and taking them for long walks and runs, you may see a reduction in destructive chewing. If you are working full time and your dog is not receiving enough exercise during the day, consider getting help from a professional or friends and family to help exercise the dog.

Teething Puppies

If your dog chews everything and is young, they may be teething, and chewing items to cope with painful gums. If you believe this to be the case then try offering your dog a damp, frozen cloth for them to chew as the cold can help relieve the gum pain. You can also invest in specific toys aimed at teething puppies.

Training

If you have tried the above methods and still notice no difference what so ever, then it may be the time to take your dog for training sessions. Many dog owners need help with training their pets and it shouldn’t be seen as a sign of failure. It can be tough to manage your dog’s behaviour such as excessive chewing, however the help of a training class and a professional who will have seen this problem many times before can really help make a difference and provide you with the tools to manage their issues in the future.

Destructive chewing is one of the most common behaviour problems. However, although it is a natural behaviour, it can be redirected. Once you have figured out why your dog chews everything, there are several things you can put in place to help control the problem and stop it escalating.

About the author

Dr Shahad Mohammed
Veterinary Physiotherapist
National Association of Veterinary Physiotherapists