Why Your Pup is a Chewing Machine
Torn up flip flops, chewed up sneaker laces, and dented chair legs. Who’s the culprit? Your new puppy. When you first welcomed the pup into your family, you prepared yourself with the essentials: food, treats, a bed, pee pads, bowls, etc. But most people don’t prepare themselves, or their household, for the wrath of your furry friend’s chompers.
But why exactly does this happen? Is there a reason they’re suddenly set on chewing everything in sight? Is there a way to stop or prevent the loss of any more shoes or furniture items?
Reason #1: Natural Instinct
Canines are natural hunters. Nothing satisfies them more than sinking their teeth into something, similar to how their wild ancestors did with their prey. For this reason, it’s an innate behavior to bite at everything. It’s also a way for them to express their curiosity. Chewing can be seen as the canine equivalent to humans “poking their nose” into something. Instead of using their sense of smell, they use their sense of taste to bite into things they would like to further explore. This is especially true for items that have your smell. Your dog is familiar with and comfortable with your scent, making them more inclined and drawn to objects such as your shoes or furniture.
Reason #2: Teething
Teething is likely one of the top reasons for why your puppy is chewing everything. Between two to four weeks of age, your dog’s baby teeth will begin coming in. By weeks five to eight, all twenty eight of your pet’s baby teeth should be there. Around three to four months of age, don’t be alarmed if you start finding tiny teeth laying around! The baby teeth will begin to shed and be replaced by their adult teeth. By six months and older, all their grown-up teeth are finally in. As you can see, much change and growth occurs concerning your dog’s teeth within just six months. You can imagine how painful, irritating, and uncomfortable the process is for your pooch. The first way they’ll seek to relieve their teeth and gum aches are by nibbling on what they can.
Reason #3: Anxiety
If you were to ask someone dealing with feelings of anxiety how they cope with their emotions, the answers will vary. Some will say sleeping, some will say exercising, meditating, praying, painting, watching television, venting to loved ones, etc. These are all vastly different methods of managing their stress and anxiety, but what they all have in common is they provide a way to release pent up emotions. To deal with their own anxiety, dogs may turn to activities similar to humans. After all, canines spend most of their days sleeping, exercising, or even barking. But chewing is another way they like to release stress. This is why it’s important to take note of what situations seem to trigger your dog’s anxiety, as well as what you can do to improve their situation and make it easier on them. Anxiety can stem from separation, sudden changes in routine, loud sounds, vet visits, etc.
Reason #4: Boredom
It may not be anxiety, but boredom falls within the category of built up emotions. In this case, it’s built up energy! If your pooch isn’t being provided with enough to keep them entertained throughout the day, what else would they turn to besides chewing? Chewing gives them not only something to do, but both physical and mental stimulation. Gnawing at everything provides physical stimulation in the way that your dog is able to work its teeth and jaws. It provides mental stimulation by giving them something to focus on for hours at a time. Chewing is the perfect distraction and way to fill their time with something enjoyable.
The Solution To It All? Toys
A good toy is the closest you can get to a cure-all solution. It can help satisfy their natural instinct for chewing, their discomfort from teething, and their feelings of anxiety or boredom. Luckily, there are plenty of dog toys out there. From balls, ropes, and disks, to stuffed animals, and all other new, creative products people have thought up. Any one of these can satisfy a dog’s reason for nibbling, but the one that will likely solve it the best are chew toys. Chew toys are purposely built with stronger, thicker, more durable material for long-lasting chewing action. This means they’ll give your dog something to gnaw at for long periods of time instead of them turning to your household belongings for cathartic release or relief from their oral discomfort. Rely on the many toy options out there to keep them from getting bored, act as a possible outlet for anxiety, and something to soothe their gums with.
Be sure to choose the correct toy for the job. Take into consideration your pet’s chewing habits, size, needs, etc. Always provide supervision when necessary to ensure they don’t rip the toys apart and possibly choke or ingest any pieces.
While a toy might just be the answer to your problems, it’s not guaranteed. Don’t just give them something to play with, but try out these methods too:
- Repellents - Many brands have created pet friendly, chemical free sprays that train pets to stay off of furniture and other places where they are not allowed to be. Simply spray it where you’d like your pet to stop nibbling.
- Puppy Proofing - Puppy proofing your pet’s environment will keep both your pet and your belongings safe. Start by setting up gates to block off your pup from entering certain rooms or parts of the house, especially those with cords. Alternatively, you can use kennels or pens to keep them in a designated space until you can safely supervise them when roaming the house.
- Exercise - If the reason behind your companion’s destructive chewing is in fact anxiety or boredom, exercise is a very productive way to handle those issues. It is a healthy way of allowing them to release pent up emotions and energy. Plus, it tires them out so they have less time or motivation to go around biting your dining room table’s legs.
- Bonding - Sometimes all your pup wants is a little extra attention. Simply spending increased time with them through pets, cuddles, or a classic game of fetch can be all they need to deter the want or need to destructively chew everything. It may not completely prevent it from happening, but what’s lost in trying to spend a little more time with your pup, anyway? Nothing!