One of the biggest challenges dog owners face is dealing with their pooch’s inappropriate chewing behaviors. Whether your pup is partial to couch cushions or an expensive pair of designer pumps, misdirected chewing can be an expensive issue to handle. Add in the possibility of ingesting toxic substances or foreign material that must then be surgically removed, and chewing quickly escalates from bothersome to potentially deadly. Here are some tips to help channel your dog’s natural chewing behavior.
Harmful chemicals and cleaners should be kept out of reach. Since dogs lack opposable thumbs, a locking cabinet is not generally necessary, but definitely keep all toxic items in a cupboard and out of harm’s way. Likewise, electrical cords should be wrapped up and tucked out of the way. Outside, keep toxic plants out of the dog’s area and avoid artificially-colored mulch where they may have access to it.
EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE
Our pups don’t innately understand the difference between our stuff and their stuff, so anything left out on the floor is potentially available to them. Children’s stuffed animals and toys, from a dog’s point of view, have a very similar texture to their own chew toys and stuffies. And those expensive leather pumps? A gourmet beef-hide strip. Better to avoid any confusion by making sure items that are not for Fluffy are put away and bedroom doors are kept closed.
WEAR THEM OUT
Boredom and stress-relief are the primary reasons adult dogs chew. Even puppies going through the process of teething need proper exercise and stimulation to help distract them from the discomfort of those adult teeth coming in. Be sure that Fido is getting plenty of exercise with daily walks and interactive playtime. Dogs are pack animals and don’t tend to entertain themselves well, so plan on spending some quality time each day playing with your pooch! Dogs are naturally oral creatures and chewing is their go-to stress reliever
GIVE IT TO THEM
Dogs are naturally oral creatures, and chewing is their go-to stress reliever, boredom buster and means of passing the time. Make sure that Fifi has a few different appropriate items of varying textures available to her. A hard rubber Kong brand toy, when filled with peanut butter and frozen, is a great way to channel that oral fixation. Nylabone brand bones are another great nontoxic toy, and come in a variety of shapes and textures. Avoid animal byproducts (such as rawhides or pig ears), as they are cured with chemicals that you may not want your dog exposed to, and could be construed as being similar enough to your leather shoes! Any time you happen upon your puppy chewing on something inappropriate, trade him the contraband for his approved chew toy to help channel his natural tendencies.
ADULT SUPERVISION REQUIRED
The number one way to avoid expensive (and possibly life-threatening) chewing mishaps is to always supervise your pup when he or she is loose in the house or yard. Just as you wouldn’t leave a two-year old child unsupervised, you should plan on keeping an eye on your furry toddler-equivalent. It’s much easier to redirect an inquisitive mouth to an appropriate chew toy BEFORE they have made a habit out of chewing the table leg. A dog-proof place, such as a kennel or crate (without bedding, until your pup has passed the teething stage) is the safest place when you aren’t home.
Keep these tips in mind, and you will find managing your pooch’s chewing behavior to be a walk in the park!
Beth McEwen, owner of Mind Your Manners Dog Training, has been working with dogs and their families for almost 20 years. Learn more at mindyourmannersdogs.com.