If you have ever owned a dog or a puppy, one of the first things you probably noticed is that these canine pals often chew stuff. Chewing is normal for dogs at the start especially when they are still puppies but it can get to a point where some furry pets can get a bit too enthusiastic with their chewing habits. This can get pretty destructive or even painful at times. So, you may ask “how do I stop my dog from chewing stuff?”.
You can stop your dog from chewing stuff by finding the root cause of the problem that could be due to a medical reason or because of psychological effects like separation anxiety. While chewing can be normal, your job is to find the problem and make sure you address it the right way.
Some people may just think that their dogs are just acting out or that they are naturally inclined to be heavily destructive chewers. But you have to understand that there are probably a lot of different causes as to why your dog chews so much and why they behave that way. As such, it is imperative that you get to know more about this habit that is quite common in most canine pals.
What causes a dog to start chewing on everything?
Chewing in puppies is normal
Whether you like it or not, chewing can be pretty normal for dogs especially when they are just puppies. Think of them as something similar to your infant when these canine pals are still very young. As puppies, dogs like to learn and explore everything around them by using their different senses. This includes putting objects in their mouths.
Dogs get to learn more about their immediate environment by chewing on them so that they would understand what they can and cannot chew or eat. After all, learning using the sense of taste is also a part of getting to know more about the world.
Similarly, when puppies are starting to grow their teeth out, they will also chew on things more so than usual. This is what is called teething as the process of their teeth growing out can be pretty uncomfortable to the point that the only sense of comfort puppies can get is by chewing on stuff to try to relieve themselves of the feeling of discomfort.
Chewing in adult dogs may not be normal
However, when your dog is older, there is no need for it to try to explore the world using its mouth because it already has a sense of what to expect from the environment around it. Similarly, the discomfort it feels from its teeth has all but disappeared as well because your dog probably has a full set of teeth when it is already all grown up.
As such, when your dog still excessively chews and engages itself in destructive chewing on everything and on anything, there might be an underlying reason as to why that is happening. Here are some of the reasons why your dog is excessively chewing:
The moment you realize that old Fido is excessively chewing on anything, the most prudent thing to do on your part is to rule out any medical problems that may be causing this behavior. Take your canine pal to the vet and have it checked for any possible illnesses and conditions that may be contributing to this behavior.
It could be because your dog is suffering from a toothache and the only way for it to relieve itself from the pain and discomfort is to chew on things. In some cases, your dog’s diet could be the underlying cause of this issue because of how malnutrition can cause pica, which results in excessive chewing as one of your dog’s coping mechanisms.
There are also times when restricting your dog’s diet can lead to excessive chewing. If you feel like old Fido is getting too fat, you may have to put it on a diet. But this can cause hunger especially if you are shocking your dog into a sudden diet. As such, your furry friend might try to chew on things to try to seek additional nutrients from them.
Whatever the medical reason is, taking your dog to the vet first is still the most prudent thing to do. Rule out any medical causes at first before you try to look at other underlying reasons as to why your dog may be chewing excessively.
Truth be told, dogs also suffer from separation anxiety such as when they are left alone for long periods of time. Dogs are social animals that require attention from other animals as well. In this case, the attention they require is from you.
So, if you are not paying attention to your dog’s needs to socialize or if you left it alone by itself for a very long time such as when you are constantly coming home late from work, there is a good chance that your dog will chew on things as a way of coping up with the anxiety it is feeling.
Separation anxiety affects different animals in all sorts of different ways. We humans have our own way of dealing with this issue. But, for dogs, one of the easiest ways for them to try to deal with their anxiety and the lack of attention they are getting from you is by chewing on anything and everything.
Yes, that’s right. Boredom can lead your dog to do all sorts of stuff such as chewing on things it shouldn’t be chewing. Dogs need to have fun as well and one of the ways they can do so is to play with things using their mouths.
However, constant excessive boredom can actually make this a habit in your dog. The moment it becomes bored, it will immediately go for the nearest object it can chew on. This can get pretty destructive especially when you are not giving your dog the attention it needs.
That’s why, as a pet owner, your job is to make sure that you are giving your dog things to do. If you are around, play with it and give it some social time so that it will actually have something to do together with its owner. But if you are not around or if you are too busy to play with your canine pal, make sure that you are leaving it with things that can distract its attention so that it won’t get too bored.
How do you stop a dog from chewing stuff?
If you notice that your dog is excessively chewing on stuff, here are some of the things you should do:
Take it to the vet
As mentioned, one of the first things to do when you notice your dog excessively chewing on stuff is to rule out any medical problems that may be causing the behavior. Take your dog to the vet immediately because of how only an expert can really tell whether or not it is suffering from any medical conditions that are contributing to its behavior.
Remember that prudence is always the most important part of being a pet parent. Prioritize seeking professional help every single moment that you can because only a licensed professional can correctly determine any medical problems your dog might be suffering from.
Be attentive with it
Similar to how you should always be attentive to your infant as you need to pay attention to what it is doing, you should also give your dog the same kind of attentiveness. Paying attention to what your dog is doing can help make you understand what is causing its chewing habits.
Of course, if you are always there to pay attention to what your dog is doing, you can quickly remedy any bad habits that are still in the early stages of their development. If you see your dog chewing on things it must not be chewing on, you can just simply lightly and softly scold it for that action.
Teaching it what to chew on
Again, when we talk about dogs especially when they are still puppies, chewing is normal behavior. Your dog will try to learn more about the world around it by using its mouth. That’s why chewing is quite normal for younger dogs.
That said, the best way for you to stop your dog from excessively chewing on things as early as possible is to make sure that you teach it what to chew on instead of allowing it to chew on anything. You can allow it to chew on stuff but always make sure that you teach that its chewing has its own limits.
Appropriate chewing can be encouraged by giving your dog proper chew toys that it should be chewing on. By giving your dog a chew toy, it will allow it to distinguish between its toy and other household items that it shouldn’t be chewing on. It will simply associate chewing with the toy you gave it.
On your part, be prudent with your personal items as well. Dogs are quite prone to chewing on your personal items such as your shoes or clothes because of how they contain your scent. Your canine pet associates playtime with your scent because you are always in close proximity whenever you are playing. As such, when it smells your scent on regular items in the house, there will be a good chance that it would play with these items by chewing on them.
So, the best thing to do is to make sure that you keep your personal items away and far from your dog. Your shoes, for example, should be kept in a safety box that your dog won’t be able to access. Meanwhile, keep your clothes in your cabinet instead of leaving them anywhere in the house.
On top of your personal items, you should also keep other stuff away from your dog’s easy access as well. This includes books and trash. Make sure, when your dog is still young and is still chewing on things to try to learn them, that you keep any normal household items and objects far away from it and simply leave it with its toy.
When your puppy doesn’t have access to any other item aside from its toys, it will understand that the only things it can chew on are the toys themselves. You can, however, expose it to all other items later on when it gets older and when it has already understood the limits of its chewing habits.
Leave your scent on its favorite toy
Even when your dog has gotten used to chewing only its toys, there will still be instances wherein it will actually want to chew on other stuff when it is feeling anxious. This is one of the effects of separation anxiety as excessive chewing can be the result of a dog missing its owner.
So, on your part, before you leave for work especially if you think that you won’t be home early, try to leave your scent on its toys. Simply touching the toys for long periods of time can be enough to leave your scent on them. That way, your dog won’t have to search for other items with your scent on them such as your clothes and shoes.
When boredom is the root cause of your dog’s chewing habits, there is no other way for you to contain its chewing than to give it something to do. Sometimes, toys aren’t enough to keep your dog preoccupied. There are some instances wherein you have to actually have it physically exert itself so that it can divert its energy and attention onto something else.
Take your dog out and play with it. Walk your dog on a leash or you can play catch with it. Even something as simple as allowing it to safely run around the backyard is enough for it. As long as the dog is having fun and is moving around, the exercise will be enough for it to get too tired to chew on stuff.
At what age do dogs stop chewing on things?
Chewing on puppies is quite normal especially when they are still trying to learn more about the world. However, by the time they turn six months old, they will be much more active when it comes to chewing because that is when teething usually happens. When your dog is teething, it will chew on anything to try to relieve itself from the discomfort caused by the teeth that are growing out. As such, except for the worse when your dog is about six months old.
However, the chewing phase usually stops the moment your dog reaches full adulthood because of how its teeth have already grown out by that time. There is no consensus on how long chewing and teething will last but, generally speaking, it will eventually stop when your dog no longer feels any sort of discomfort in its teeth.
What is the best deterrent for dogs chewing?
The best deterrent for dog chewing is to give it some dog-friendly chew toys that will divert its attention away from all of the other things in the house. Remember the fact that it is quite normal for dogs to be chewing on things for a lot of different reasons. However, you can help deter them from chewing on important household and personal items by giving them something safe to chew on instead.
In that case, there are plenty of dog-friendly chew items you can buy and will surely last for a very long time. You can go for regular chew toys such as toy bones or toy balls to get your dog’s mind off of things and to distract it at times when it is bored or when it feels the need to chew on stuff.
Speaking of boredom, another deterrent that will stop your dog from chewing is to give it something to do. Activating your dog’s mind and body by giving it some exercise or by allowing it to solve certain puzzles can help prevent chewing. So long as you are giving your dog things to do whether you are in the house or not, you can deter it from chewing on anything and everything in your home.
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