Dog chewing behavior is frequently a developmental stage that puppies go through to ease the pain and itch of cutting new teeth. The majority of dogs stop chewing everything in sight once their new teeth are fully erupted (around 9 months old). The small number of dogs that do not stop chewing by age 1 have either acquired the habit of chewing from frustration, boredom or anxiety.
No matter what the reason is that a dog chews, the actions of chewing can be very costly and downright hazardous to your pup’s physical well being. Correcting chewing, like any other behavior problem, requires that somebody be present to catch the dog in the act.
Showing your dog a shoe that was chewed to pieces a few hours earlier and yelling at them may make you feel better, but there is very little chance that they will connect the punishment with the thought that chewing shoes is bad.
An unsupervised puppy left to wander through the home may eventually acquire a taste for hazardous chew toys like cleaning supplies, electrical cords and other deadly items. A landscaped backyard filled with potentially toxic plants, or rocks and wood items that can block the dog’s intestines is a similarly dangerous situation for the unsupervised puppy. Dogs that chew and swallow rocks or other sharp items often need dear and dangerous emergency surgery.
To steer clear of mishaps when you can’t keep an observant eye on your dog, confine them in an area where only suitable chew items such as rawhides, dog toys or knuckle bones are accessible.
You should exercise caution in which chew toys are left in the crate, as dogs have been known to choke on some toys and rawhides. If you confine your dog to their crate during unsupervised periods, you won’t have to be concerned about them chewing up cherished belongings and furnishings, or doing themselves harm.
You may decide to dog proof your home by removing any valuable items until the dog has grown out of the chewing stage. Products such as Tabasco sauce or Bitter Apple can be sprayed on possessions and furniture to keep them from chewing, but check for staining before using them on anything of value. Ninety-nine percent of the dogs find the taste of these products disgusting, but a few dogs think they are a gourmet delight.
One product that may not be appealing to any dog is ammonia. Be cautious not to spray the ammonia when your animal is nearby as it could damage their olfactory system and eyes. Read the directions carefully to decide what is safe to spray on valuable belongings.
Your dog should be well supplied with suitable chew items such as old socks, rawhides, safe dog toys, chew hooves and knuckle bones. Only knuckle bones are safe as other bones can splinter and get caught in the dog’s throat or intestines.
If you are concerned that your dog will not distinguish between an old chewable sock and a new stocking you might want to take some time to play fetch with them using an old sock so it will become their new favorite toy. The old sock will carry the scent of your pooch while the new sock will have your scent. Your dog will quickly learn the difference between the two socks when you praise them for playing with and chewing the old sock and scold them for chewing on socks with your scent on them.