Chewing is part of normal dog behaviour.
Puppies investigate their environment by sniffing and chewing on objects. Puppies also tend to chew a lot during their teething phase (which starts at about 12 weeks of age) when baby teeth are replaced with permanent adult teeth. Puppies should be provided with lots of safe objects to chew such as puppy chow toys (e.g., a puppy Kong stuffed with puppy food).
Adult dogs also have a strong natural urge to chew and gnaw on things and they should be provided with opportunities to express natural chewing behaviours.
Sometimes if the chewing is excessive, or if 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. 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 plenty of safe dog chew toys (e.g., a Kong stuffed with appropriate food). It is imperative that your dog has a safe chewing outlet to express this instinctive behaviour.
Dogs can sometimes chew excessively or 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 two walks and/or some play time in a safe off-leash area such as a dog park each day. They also need sufficient company (dog and human) and mental stimulation. In addition, 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.