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Dogs use their mouths not only to eat, but to learn about and explore their environment. For this reason, chewing is to be expected, and will be more prevalent among some breeds of dogs. Puppies have an incessant need to chew and bite when they are teething. The best way to ensure your dog does not chew the wrong items is to give it plenty of appropriate chew toys, companionship and exercise, and to keep valuable and tempting items out of reach.
When choosing chew toys, only give your dog appropriate items that he will always be able to chew on. Do not give him old shoes or socks and expect him not to chew on other shoes and socks. Your dog will not know the difference between an old worn sock and a new one. Keep several chew toys and rotate them, giving him one or two at a time and changing them regularly so he does not grow bored of them. Ensure chew toys are an appropriate size. Check the toys regularly, and discard toys that are coming apart or have become worn and dangerous. You don’t want your dog to ingest the stuffing or other loose parts of the toy.
The only way you can ensure your dog does not chew on inappropriate things is to supervise him constantly. To prevent him from chewing things when you are unable to supervise him, confine him to a safe enclosed area or a crate until he learns what he can and cannot chew. Do not leave items around that he should not chew, especially when he is still learning what is appropriate and what is not.
If you catch your dog chewing on something he shouldn’t be, interrupt him, give him something he can chew, and praise him when he chews on the object you have given him.
If he persists in chewing “off-limit” items, purchase a spray from the pet store that will deter him from chewing and spray it on the “off-limit” areas such as tables and chairs. These sprays are harmless but unpleasant to taste.
Beware that dogs are sometimes given more attention when doing something “bad” like chewing and be careful not to reinforce the behaviour in this way. Do not punish your dog, but teach him to “drop it” and praise him when he chews his chew toys. As with other forms of training, do not discipline your dog after he has done something wrong. He will not understand you if you scold or punish him for something he did earlier.
Understand why your dog is chewing. It is natural and part of your dog’s exploring of his environment but it can also be a result of fear or separation anxiety caused by long periods away from its owners. It may also be a reaction to other stress-related issues such as moving, time at a shelter or loss of family members or pets.
Make sure you are giving your dog all it needs to keep it physically and mentally healthy. If a problem persists, check with your veterinarian. Like most other behaviour problems, adequate exercise and play can help reduce chewing.Print this page