Chewing isn’t a destructive behavior. Chewing the wrong thing is. So, the simple solution to your dog’s chewing problem is to offer him things that are okay to chew. Now, let’s get into more detail.
For puppies, chewing is a way to explore the world around them. It’s fairly normal until it’s directed towards your furniture, important papers, shoes or your hands and legs! Deciduous teeth begin erupting in puppies between 3 to 8 weeks of age. As the puppy grows, these are replaced by permanent teeth usually during 4 to 6 months of age. During teething, puppies’ gums are sore. As a result, puppies like to chew during this period to relieve them of the pain. Once beyond this age, inappropriate chewing should be corrected before it begins to hurt you. Thankfully, there are fairly standard ways to correct it.
Provide correct chewing objects
Giving the right chew toys to your dog will make her happy. Offer a variety of toys to her and find out what she likes. Then get more toys of that particular variety. Some of the toys you can consider are nylon bones, balls and kongs. The toy size and weight should be such that your dog can lift and carry it around but unable to swallow it. Avoid toys made of hard plastics which your dog can chew off and swallow as the torn away plastic may get lodged in her intestine. For a kong type toy, ensure that your dog’s jaw or tongue does not get stuck in the hole. Supervision is recommended if you offer raw bones to your dog as at times dogs are able to break these into small sharp pieces which can get lodged in their intestines or worse still, damage their intestinal tract. Never give toys which resemble your belongings such as shoe because your dog may be unable to differentiate between her shoe toy and your shoe.
Dog proofing your house
One of the time tested ways to prevent inappropriate chewing is to keep all chewable things away from your dog’s reach. Keep general things on a high-enough table, shoes in a shoe rack and clothes in a closet. If there are a few things which cannot be kept in such places, place them in one of your rooms and always keep it closed. No access means no damage. If your dog likes to surf counters, use scat mat.
Offer a treat in exchange for that item in her mouth
If your dog is running around with an undesirable object, don’t chase her. She’ll love your chasing her. Instead, offer her a treat accompanied by a command such as “Drop it” so that she drops the objects in her mouth and approaches you to get the treat. Overtime, this command will get ingrained in her brain and a treat won’t be required to get your object back.
Check for medical issues
Chewing can hint towards medical issues such as pica i.e. craving for a non-edible item followed by eating it. The underlying medical causes may be diabetes, anemia, intestinal parasites, thyroid disease, malnutrition or separation anxiety. Consult your vet during your dog’s regular check-up to rule out or treat these medical conditions.
Bad-tasting edible objects to deter chewing
Apply a layer of bitter apple spray on an object you don’t want your dog to chew. The bitter taste will deter the dog from chewing the object. This method is useful when dog’s chewing habits are already established and you are finding it difficult to teach your dog that a particular object does not belong to her.
Tire her out
Play a lot with your dog. Regular exercising and playing is not only good for her health but also consumes any extra energy. If left unused, this extra energy is often directed towards your belongings.
Beating dogs for damage they have caused by chewing is never recommended. Not only is that inhumane, it is ineffective too. Dogs, like other pets, correlate punishment with what they were doing at the time punishment started. They won’t be able to reason that they are being beaten for the clothes that they tore an hour ago.