Chewing is part of normal dog behaviour. Puppies investigate their environment by sniffing and chewing on objects. Puppies also chew during their teething phase (which starts at about 12 weeks of age) when baby teeth are replaced with permanent adult teeth.
Dogs also have a natural urge to chew and gnaw on things such as a raw meaty bone which helps to keep teeth and gums healthy and enables them to express natural chewing behaviours.
Sometimes if the chewing is excessive, the dog is injuring themselves or damaging property, this can reflect an underlying issue such as separation anxiety, frustration, loneliness, hunger or lack of exercise and in these cases owners should seek advice from a veterinary behavioural specialist who can determine the underlying cause and help manage the issue. It’s important in these cases to make sure that all of the dog’s needs are being met.
How can chewing be managed?
Firstly make sure your dog/puppy has various safe and appropriate things to chew on, such as a raw meaty bone.
1-2 times per week (see the article What should I feed my dog? below for more information), and plenty of safe dog chew toys. It is imperative that your dog has a safe chewing outlet to express this instinctive behaviour.
Dogs can sometimes chew on inappropriate objects if there is an underlying problem such as anxiety, frustration, boredom, etc. Ensure your dog has sufficient daily exercise, most dogs need at least one walk/ run in a dog park each day and sufficient company and mental stimulation. Also ensure your dog is fed at least twice a day, as sometimes dogs will scavenge and chew when they are hungry. Please see the below articles for dietary advice.
How can I stop my dog chewing on inappropriate objects?
- Prevent access to objects that you don’t want your dog to chew on.
- Provide plenty of suitable and safe chew items daily.
- Ensure the dog has sufficient daily exercise, food, mental stimulation and company.
If your dog is chewing excessively, injuring themselves or damaging property please consult with a veterinary behavioural specialist who can help determine the underlying cause and help manage the issue.
For more advice contact your local RSPCA or veterinarian.