Why Do Dogs Like to Chew? | Benefits of Chewing for Dogs
You have seen them doing it again and again and they seem to love it. Yes, dogs love to chew and it is in their blood; it is their instinct and totally natural. There are many reasons why do dogs like to chew. There are however two sides to chewing – the good and bad behavior.
The good chewing behavior happens when your dog is calm and cared for. On the other hand, bad chewing behavior can happen and turns bad when it is out of control. This bad behavior normally happens when you dog is scared, anxious, overly hungry or in extreme pain from teething.
Why do dogs like to chew – Good chewing behavior
Before we go further into good and bad chewing behavior, here are some reasons why your dog loves to chew.
For the young puppies, chewing is a natural way to relieve the pain of new teeth popping up. Just like human babies which also chew on soft toy to relieve teething pain. For the older dogs, chewing is a way to clean their teeth and to keep their jaws strong. This could be seen as a way to brush their teeth.
Checking out the environment
Chewing is a way for dogs to get familiarize with the new environment. For dogs who have been newly adopted or when moving to new places, dog tends to chew on something for the taste and also as a way of feeling the environment.
Many dogs chew simply because they are bored. Chewing also helps to relieve mild anxiety and frustration. The chewing can also be a form of distraction as long as it is done in an appropriate manner. You can link this to how humans who are distress by squeezing something on their palm. Chewing is also a form of play and it can be fun and yummy when a chew treat is involved.
We’ve talked about the reasons for good chewing behavior and now let’s look at some reasons for bad chewing behavior.
Why do dogs like to chew – Bad chewing behavior
Dog’s bad chewing behavior is when they chew on anything from home furniture, shoes, wires, pillows, clothes, books and probably anything in the house and there can be many reasons why dogs like to chew on these things..
As mentioned before, puppies have teething problem and if you do not give them the right stuff to chew, they’ll find their own things to chew.
For the first 6 month, puppy will start to experience teething problem as teeth begins to break the gum and grow. To reduce damage to objects in your house, try giving them pup ice cubes, frozen wet washcloths or frozen chew treats. This will help to numb their gums and lessen teething pain. You’ll be less painful as damage to the objects in your house will be minimized. You never know how destructive this can be if the teething problem is not handle properly.
I’m so hungry that I can eat a horse. If you know what hunger can do to you, imagine what it can do to your dog. Chances are dog will chew on anything they find in an effort to alleviate their hunger.
On the other hand, there might be a situation where you want to have a calorie-restricted diet for your dog. In this situation, it is best to give them small treat to lessen the hunger. If not, they may think your pillow looks like a yummy hot dog. That is what hunger can do to dog and not forgetting humans too.
If you dog is chewing aggressively, it may be a form of separation anxiety. I’m not talking about separation for a long period of time but can be for a short hours and even minutes.
This bad chewing behavior can be a way for the dog to relieve stress of being alone. If you want to resolve this issue, start by leaving your pup alone for shorter period of time in a crate with their favorite toy or treat. This will help him associate you being gone with a happy place filled with his most prized possessions.
If you can’t supervise your dog for a long period of time, you need to find a way to prevent him from chewing on inappropriate things in your absence. For example, if you work during the day, you can leave your dog at home in a confinement area for up to six hours. Use a crate or put your dog in a small room with the door or a baby gate closed. Be sure to remove all things that your dog shouldn’t chew from his confinement area, and give him a variety of appropriate toys and chew things to enjoy instead. Keep in mind that if you confine your dog, you’ll need to give him plenty of exercise and quality time with you when he’s not confined.
Guides on how to normalize your dog’s chewing behaviour
If your dog has bad chewing behavior, here are some guides on what you can do to overcome that problem
Dog Proof Your House
If you find your dog chewing all over the place, it’s time to dog proof your house and protect your assets. You can move your beloved items to higher place beyond the reach of your dog and even move some precious items to a closed cabinet.
Provide some healthy treats or toys for normal chewing
You can provide some healthy treats and even toys to keep the dogs busy. Make sure the treats are long lasting to keep the dog busy and the toy to be indestructible type. Occasionally rotate the treats and toys so the dog will not be bored.
If you have the time, observe and pay attention to the types of toys that keep your dog busy for long period of time. Take note of it and continue to offer the same kind of treats or toys until the dogs are bored with it.
Nevertheless, do keep in mind that providing the right things to chew will not totally prevent the dog from bad chewing. In this case, dogs need to be trained on what is right to chew and what is not.
Ways to discourage chewing
Your dog can learn not to chew on certain items in the house. This can be achieved by spraying chewing deterrents. Remember when you first use this deterrent, begin with a small amount and use a tissue or cotton to let your dog try. Once your dog gets a taste of it, let him spit out the item. You’ll know you dog doesn’t like it when he shakes his head, drool or retch.
You can repeat this a few times so the dog can learn about the smell. It’s alright if the dog doesn’t chew on the cotton with deterrent when offered the second or third times. It simply means he has learned to resist this smell. With this, you can spray the deterrent on items you do not want your dog to chew on. Reapply the deterrent every day for two to four weeks.
Do note that eventually your dog will need to learn what can be chewed on and what can’t be. It is a learning process both you and your dog need to go through.
Whenever you see your dog chewing on something he is not supposed to, take it away and offer something else in return i.e. a great dog treat or the dog’s favorite chewing toy. By doing this, you’re enhancing the learning process and let the dog knows what can be chewed and what can’t. Don’t forget to pet and praise the dog when they display good chewing behavior. This will help them to associate good chewing with good rewards.
If you dog suddenly stop chewing or lose interest in that activity, be on alert as this can indicate a more serious health problem and you may need to pay a visit to your vet.
Don’t confuse your dog
To help your dog learn the difference between things he should and shouldn’t chew, it’s important to avoid confusing him by offering unwanted household items, like old shoes and discarded cushions. It isn’t fair to expect your dog to learn that some shoes are okay to chew and others aren’t.
It is never easy when the dog displays bad chewing behavior. You get frustrated and angry as some of your favorite items in the house may be damaged. On the other hand, it is inhumane if you do not find out the cause of this behavior.
Learn and try all the methods you can to help your dog overcome this behavior. Remember, eventually you dog will grow out of it and this can be just for a short period of time. If you have exhausted all methods, seek help, talk to your veterinary on how to overcome your dog’s behavior.