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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Beachy

Help! My Dog is Chewing Everything!

Meet our most talented chewer, Porsche!

This dog can chew a bra perfectly in half and the thumb off an expensive pair of gardening gloves; it’s like artwork for her! She will seek items you wouldn’t expect such as my fitness watch tucked away in my purse! During that rummage, she'll find pens, hair clips, lotion…. whatever she finds with my scent, Porsche will chew! Whose fault is it? Mine! What is really going on here? Porsche is frustrated or sad I am not home. Chewing is soothing, and chewing things with my scent, she is soothing her frustration! She is not trying to be destructive. Dogs aim to please!

Dogs naturally like to chew! It engages their mind, physically works the muscles in their jaws, and allows them to explore the chewing prize. While dogs are learning how to behave and develop house manners, it is critical to keep items that are meaningful, useful, and/or valuable in safe places out of the puppy’s reach. Even as a puppy grows, chewing is a normal function for a dog! When they are not getting the physical exercise and mental stimulation they need, they will chew!

When does my most challenging chewer strike? Well, the weeks that I arrive home late and Porsche hasn’t been exercised and her mind has not been challenged all day! The day we went from an appropriately sized kennel to a large one to compensate for her extended day kenneled while we work, she tore up her dog bed!

So, you see, these are things we need to mitigate and change the situation around! When your dog is “appearing” guilty for their chewing crimes, it is not them realizing they did anything wrong. Think about the body language of the dog when you have walked in on their chewing fest! Lowered, kind of cowering body, avoiding eye contact, tail between the legs, and/or slow movements. These communicate their stress and fear. Your dog knows you are upset, but does not understand why. Dogs are not manipulative, they don’t try to make us angry or get back at us for being gone too long. They are simply bored, intrigued by an object, or frustrated and chew - a soothing activity for a dog!

Want to fix this? The first thing to do is to evaluate and manage expectations, as needed:

  • You have a dog - they will chew things! To your dog, it doesn’t matter if it is a cheap dollar store item or an irreplaceable heirloom.

  • While a puppy is teething, it experiences pain and chewing soothes its aching gums!

  • Any item you have that would be a tragedy to fall victim to chewing must be kept away from your dog, always! Even an adult dog can, and probably will chew items at some point.

  • Kennel training your dog provides a safe and comfortable place for your dog when you cannot watch them.

  • Dogs must have physical exercise and mental stimulation every day! Just as important as food, so are these two critical needs! For your dog to be happy and centered, needs must be met (just like humans)! They will seek activities that bring them pleasure if frustrated. Unfortunately, many of these activities, like chewing, make us humans frustrated.

  • You won’t always be able to predict what your dog would find appealing to chew.

Next step, don’t give them access and manage the environment:

  • Keep the area immaculate! Only leave out their toys! Not one for housekeeping? Plan the space your dog will have access to and clear loose items and make dog-approved toys available.

  • Kennel train so that your dog has that safe space when you are not able to watch them. That said, don’t leave your dog in its kennel too long!

  • Give the space a daily scan! Things will fall out of our pockets, items slip from our hands, or merely working on “auto-pilot” we may mistakenly put something we shouldn’t in our dog’s reach.

Foremost, spend quality time with your dog, exercising him and engaging her mind!

  • Play with your pup! Hide and seek in the house. A game of “find it” hiding treats for your dog to sniff out. A vigorous game of fetch.

  • Take walks with your dog, and talk to them. This helps your dog focus on you, and it’s fun to watch their expressions as they try to figure out our words!

  • Among their toys, make sure there are plenty of chew-friendly toys that your dog has rated as high-value! Tip! Cycle the toys to give your dog a different or new chewing experience daily!

  • Have food puzzles ready to go, especially for a day you can’t get outside enough.

  • Try puppy push-ups to engage your dog’s mind.

  • If your dog seems to have an unreasonable tendency to chew, it is also a good idea to have a vet check things out, and be sure there is no concern with their dental health.

My fellow fur parents, it boils down to adjusting our expectations, managing the environment, and tending to our dog’s needs! If I accept the concept that my opportunistic dog will chew, I’m less frustrated and nonjudgemental of her when it happens. If I keep the temptations away and chew toys available, she is less likely to seek out odd objects when her chewing mood strikes. If I meet my dog’s needs, she will be less likely to engage in self-soothing and normal dog behaviors that drive me crazzzzzzy!!

Most importantly, chewing can be dangerous for our dogs! We lost Samson to a tug-a-war rope and toys he chewed. Be sure to supervise your dog’s chewing so they can Live For Samson!

Aloha, Barks, and Howls,

Melanie Beachy

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