Destructive Behavior: Chewing
In the previous installments of this series on overcoming bad puppy behavior, we learned about puppy mouthing and biting, inappropriate jumping, and excessive barking. Today, we will be discussing another common problem: inappropriate chewing.
Why Do Puppies Chew?
Every puppy owner has had the misfortune of discovering a favorite item has been destroyed. Why do puppies behave in this way? Unfortunately for puppy owners, the answer is that it is simply in their nature. Dogs – particularly puppies – interact with the world around them via their mouths.
Besides curiosity, puppies also chew because it makes them feel good. The act of chewing releases chemicals into their brains such as dopamine and serotonin. Evolutionarily, chewing is necessary because it cleans teeth and strengthens a dog’s jaws.
Finally, puppies are more prone to chewing because, just like human children, chewing can alleviate the pain and frustration experienced during teething.
Overcoming Inappropriate Chewing
- Provide Appropriate Chew Toy
Since chewing is a behavior that cannot be trained away, it is important to provide your puppy with plenty of appropriate chew toys. Whenever your dog is chewing an inappropriate item, such as a chair leg, sharply say “no” and offer your dog an acceptable toy, such as a KONG or Nylabone, instead.
- Bitter Apple Spray
Occasionally dogs and puppies will find a certain item irresistible, such as a leather couch or an extra-fluffy throw pillow. Bitter apple spray can be purchased at any pet store to discourage your dog from habitually chewing these items. This product is a safe, non-toxic substance that tastes bad to dogs. Simply spray it on the item you wish to keep your dog from chewing, and your pet will be repulsed when he or she takes a bite.
Excessive chewing can be a sign of boredom in your pet. Ask yourself whether your dog is receiving enough mental and physical stimulation. Certain breeds are more prone to boredom, and these include Siberian Huskies, Border Collies, German Shepherds, and other breeds that have a history as a working dog.
- Make Changes to Routine
Ultimately, it is impossible to have a favorite item destroyed if it was properly put away. Since puppy chewing is inevitable, it is important to be extra clean and tidy during the puppy phase. If your puppy has a tendency to chew items that can’t be stored, such as chair legs, consider crate training your pet or keeping him or her on a leash by your side until better manners are learned.
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Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy™ blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In the case of emergency, always seek qualified healthcare from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy™ blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.