Almost every dog owner has been the victim of unwanted dog chewing. They chew up clothes, furniture, shoes and most anything else that they can fit into their mouth; and it is not just the chewing. Some dogs will actually tear away at things like carpeting, flooring and drapes just so that they can have a chewing party. Destructive doggie behavior can only get worse and needs to be dealt with in a serious way, but first you have to understand why your pet is acting out.
There are basically two types of chewing problems involving dogs and both have separate causes: Puppy Chewing and Adult Dog Chewing. Puppy chewing is usually the result of teething. It is easy to notice when a puppy begins to get its teeth in, so you can immediately take steps to avoid having your stuff all chewed up. Start by isolating your puppy from anything that you do not want it to chew on when you are not around. Next, purchase rawhide based chew toys to help your pet safely satisfy its need to chew in order to relieve the pain of teething.
Years ago some people would make the mistake of going to a pet store and buying chew toys for teething puppies that looked like shoes and other personal items. Other folks would take old shoes or other personal items made of leather and give them to their pup to use as teething toys. Well, how dumb can anyone be? All that did was teach the puppy that something which looked like a shoe was great fun to chew on and that learned negative behavior often continued into the dogs adult years.
Most of today’s big box pet stores offer a wide variety of rawhide items that do not look like shoes which you can give to a puppy as teething aids. Keep those items available to the puppy, but watch for the time when they wear down. Small pieces of worn down chew toys can become a choking hazard. None of us can watch a puppy all the time, so creating a safe area devoid of anything you do not want all chewed up is a good start in preventing teething from becoming a destructive problem for you.
Adult dog chewing is an entirely different matter and can have several causes. First of all, you have to understand that certain dog breeds or mixes will chew more than others. Terriers are well known as being very destructive dogs. They love to chew and tear, and size does not matter. You would be surprised to know that Yorkshire Terriers (Yorkies) are notorious for chewing up things much bigger than they are. Years ago I knew a man who adopted a very tiny Yorkie. By the time that dog was two years old it weighed just under three pounds and had torn up and chewed a large portion its owner’s kitchen linoleum.
Heredity is certainly not the only cause of chewing. Most dogs are very social animals that attach themselves to their owners. When an owner leaves a dog by itself for long periods of time, a dog will look for items with their owner’s scent on them and lick or chew those things. Dogs will do those types of things to reassure themselves that they are not being abandoned. You have to remember that although dogs may seem very smart, can learn to respond to human language and be taught many behaviors, they do not possess the same kind of thinking process as humans. Each time you leave a dog that animal does not have the intellect to understand when or if you will ever return. The longer you are gone, the more your pet will feel abandoned even if you return around the same time each day.
If leaving your dog alone for long periods of time cannot be avoided and you find that your pet is engaging in destructive behavior like chewing or tearing, you have two basic choices. First, you can take advantage of the available dog sitting services which are now far more abundant and less expensive then they once were. Leave your dog with a dog sitter, but be sure to get references and inspect their facility before you do. Fleas and transmitted diseases like parvovirus are a huge problem when dogs from different owners get together. Make sure that your pet has a flea collar and that the sitter insists on checking to make sure all their client’s pets are up to date on vaccinations and not infested by fleas or ticks.
If a dog sitter is not in your budget, your second choice kicks in. You will need to create an area in you home where your dog can safely stay while you are out. Purchase several different types of chew toys until you find out which ones work best with your pet and place those in the safe area while you are away. Although some owners crate their dogs while they are out, this is not a good solution. Dogs will urinate and defecate in the crate and this can lead to all kinds of health issues including bacterial infections and even kennel cough. Crating is not only unhealthy for your animal, but may actually cause your pet to develop even more destructive behavior which is that animal’s way of telling you it is unhappy. Although dog muzzling is another popular solution to chewing, it usually fails as a training tool and you obviously cannot leave your dog muzzled while you are out.
Despite all the claims of miracle training programs that you can purchase for dogs, there is really no way to stop a dog from chewing unless you get to the root cause. Apart from being separated from its owner, a dog may chew because it has fleas or ticks, is not getting enough exercise or has a health problem that you have not detected. Try taking your dog out more often for exercise first because that is an easy solution if exercise is the issue. If it is a health problem, dogs often develop all kinds of teeth maladies as they get older and tend to deal with them the same way they did when they were teething as puppies, they chew to try and stop the pain. Have your pet thoroughly examined by a Veterinarian to check for health and pest problems. If all else fails, try spending more time with your pet so that it will learn to trust you. Trust can go a long way to create a rudimentary kind of reassurance in dogs when their owners are away.