Why does your dog chew?

Narrated from: Dog Training

Chewing is very natural for dogs. They use chewing to explore the world they live in from puppyhood to old age. In many cases, the combination of dogs and chewing can cause a lot of damage. Some dogs just seem to always find the wrong thing to chew on such as your new shoes, furniture or, in some cases, even the kids’ homework. Even though it may seem that they're just looking for trouble, they really aren’t. Chewing is natural for dogs and is part of their DNA.

In reality, it's good to encourage your dog to chew but make sure it's done constructively and discourage chewing inappropriate items such as electrical cords. Generally, most dog owners will encounter an inappropriate chewing issue at some point in their dog's life, where the dog chews on things they shouldn't. While an annoyance, and possibly a destructive issue for owners, it can be a very dangerous issue for the pet. Not only electrical wires, but other objects such as wood which can cause splinters in the mouth and damage in the intestines, or toxic materials, can have devastating results to the health of your pet.

There are a variety of reasons why a dog will chew. It could be due to boredom, nervousness or mouth issues such as painful teeth or gums. Chewing can also be a way to get your attention and it's not uncommon for the chewing to increase if your dog is not getting enough exercise and stimulation. Making sure your dog has plenty of play time can help decrease the chewing issue, but making sure your dog has the appropriate items to chew on can be beneficial to their health.

The actual chewing action will help to reduce any fretfulness or boredom your dog is experiencing and help them to feel more content and secure. It's not really difficult to encourage your dog to gnaw on items suitable for them. How? Here are some suggestions.

To begin with, make sure you remove items you don't want your dog to chew and gnaw on such as children's toys, shoes and anything that could hurt your pet. Remember, just because your dog hasn't chewed before doesn't mean they won't start. It is important to remember that a dog chews by instinct, not out of anger or spitefulness.

When you catch your dog chewing something they shouldn't, quickly and firmly tell them ‘NO’! Simply raise your voice when correcting them to let them know that chewing the inappropriate object is not okay. Be sure to correct them immediately and only when you actually catch them chewing something inappropriate. Correction after the fact is pointless and confusing to the dog. Immediately remove the unsuitable item and replace it with a toy the dog can chew on. As soon as the dog begins to chew on the appropriate item or toy, proceed to give them lots of praise to encourage continued chewing on the proper item.

Always be sure to keep a few appropriate toys and chews on hand for your dog, particularly when you're not home. You can find several appropriate chew toys for your four footed friend at any pet store, or ask your veterinarian for a recommendation. When leaving your dog for an extended period of time, such as going to work for the day, be sure appropriate chew toys are available.

There are different kinds of suitable chew toys. There are toys meant to help keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy by preventing the buildup of tartar and removing plaque. Some even have ingredients to improve your dog's breath.

There are also toys meant to keep your dog busy by engaging your dog’s mind and entertaining them. As dogs become older and less active, it's a good way to keep them from getting bored. There are toys designed to survive chewing by even the most aggressive dogs but be sure the toys or chew toys you choose are appropriate for your dog and will help them to satisfy their inbred need to chew. Whether the need is stimulated by boredom or anxiety isn’t really the issue. What matters is providing your dog with safe and appropriate chews and toys. Nylabones are great for the chewing dog and there are many other items such as Spinz to satisfy the need to play and chew.

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