We all love our canine companions, but when they go straight for your new sandals and chew them to pieces, they’re a real nuisance. Usually, though, chewing is indicative of something else, your dog is communicating with you, and there are things you can do to change your dog’s chewing behavior.
The most frustrating kinds of chewing occur when your dog is a puppy. Chewing is instinctual at this time, and it’s your puppy’s way of exploring its environment – similar to how babies and toddlers like putting things in their mouths. At this point, your puppy is going through a phase, and in the meantime, you need to remove any harmful objects and items. Purchase chew toys for your puppy and when they’re caught with something they shouldn’t be, properly scold them and replace that item with their chew toy, praising them at this point so they understand their toy is what they should chew.
Sometimes your dog is chewing because of separation anxiety or boredom. If you find that your dog chews furniture, shoes, or other items that they know they shouldn’t be chewing, when they’re alone, it’s possible your dog has separation anxiety or is bored. Make sure that you touch, talk, and make eye contact with your dog when you enter and leave the home. Take them on a walk before their alone and make sure they’ve been active before you leave. There’s no harm in playing with your dog!
Often, dogs chew because it’s their instinct, even when they’ve moved on from their puppy phase. This is fine, as long as they are chewing the right items. Like for puppies, make sure you are giving your dog things to chew, such as toys or bones, and correct their behavior when they chew items they shouldn’t be. Scold them, replace the item with a toy or bone, and praise them when they chew those. This way, your dog understands what is okay and not okay to chew.
Lastly, your dog may be chewing for a medical reason, and it’s their way of letting you know. If your dog’s chewing is out of character, there may be an underlying medical cause, and it’s worth a trip to the vet. When dogs have nutritional deficiencies, their instinct is to eat non-food items. If your dog has a stomach bug, they may chew to induce vomiting, helping them feel better.
Remember, chewing is normal. The trick is letting your dog know what is okay and not okay to chew.