Psychology of a Dog
Similar to humans, puppies use their mouths to explore their world. This can lead to much destruction as they eat almost anything in sight, from important work documents to expensive headphones and your smelly old sneakers, toxic plants, electrical cords...and that lovely new table in your living room.
It is important to remember that dogs don’t chew to spite us. They love smells that remind them of their owners, which is why your accessories, sports equipment, and shoes are so intriguing. Since they also live in the moment, they won’t connect their destruction with your anger and any subsequent discipline.
Why Your Dog May Be Chewing
There are several reasons dogs may chew, and none of them are out of spite. Here are just a few:
- Lack of training
- To seek attention
- To relieve fear or anxiety
Stopping a Dog From Chewing
Dogs cannot comprehend right from wrong or connect their actions (like chewing up your furniture or shoes) to why you might be angry or see the need to discipline them. Because they don’t understand, you will likely not see a change in behavior after punishing them, so instead of muzzling, spanking, or scolding them, try these:
Training & Supervision
Close supervision at home is key so your puppy can learn good habits (and what you don’t want them doing!). You may also choose to take them to obedience classes or puppy training school.
Tuck Valuables Away
Look at your home through your dog’s eyes. Have a pair of expensive leather golf shoes or prized accessories you’d rather keep out of your pet’s jaws? “Dog-proof” your space and put these items in a place they can’t reach.
Exercise & Stimulation
A tired dog is a happy dog. Get a read on your pup’s energy levels and needs, then tailor playtime and an exercise routine to these. Use 20 to 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise as a general rule of thumb, unless they have a medical problem that prevents this.
Only Reward Desired Behavior
When your puppy nips your fingers, you should shriek, pull back, and leave the room. When your dog snatches a valuable item and runs off, resist the urge to chase him. Instead, call him to you and offer a treat or toy in exchange for the item being chewed.
How Your Vet Can Help
Fortunately, excessive dog chewing behavior dwindles by around 18 months of age for most, but will likely continue to some degree, depending on your dog’s breed and other factors, for their entire life. If you see excessive chewing, consult your veterinarian. They can:
- Check for medical reasons your dog might be chewing and provide treatment
- Advise whether you should let certain items pass, when your dog needs to come in for an exam and when you should induce vomiting if he or she has chewed an inappropriate item
- Provide advice and pointers for modifying your dog’s behavior
- Suggest appropriate chew toys, treats, deterrents, or training methods
At Providence South Animal Hospital in Waxhaw, we can perform a full health checkup and offer advice on how to solve this frustrating issue.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.