Everyone has a bad habit or two… While for people that might include biting your nails or cracking your knuckles, for dogs that bad habit is chewing on things that are not their chew toys. If you have come home to find a piece of furniture with bite marks or a favorite pair of shoes chewed to pieces, you might want to consider working with your dog to correct this bad habit before it becomes a daily ritual.
Before correcting the problem, it’s probably helpful to share why dogs feel the need to gnaw on your possessions. At a young age, dogs learn about their surroundings before their eyes are even open by feeling around with their mouths. This is how they find their mother’s nipples, how they learn where their siblings are and get a feel for their territory. Chewing even becomes a feel-good routine when they are teething – similar to human babies in the same process. When not taken care of at a young age, however, it turns into a bad habit that older dogs have a hard time breaking.
If you have an older dog that never broke the habit, here are some potential reasons that an adult dog may chew on something:
- Confusion over what is appropriate to chew and what isn’t his
- You’re not home, so the anxiety sets in
- Chewing earns him or her attention when they are feeling neglected
Regardless of the urge that causes your pet to chew, here are a few ways that you can remedy the situation.
- Train your pet from an early age
It’s never too early to teach your dog good habits – this should start the day you bring him or her home. When you find your pet chewing on something that isn’t for them, firmly tell your pet "no” and use positive reinforcement with an appropriate toy. That being said, be sure to keep a few toys around the house so that your pet is allowed to chew on something and carry it around.
- Ask us for help!
If you have been using positive reinforcement and discipline and are still not seeing results, consult our staff. Sometimes, chewing can actually be the result of a larger issue that your pet doesn’t know how to handle. For example, some gastrointestinal or nutrition issues cause dogs to seek comfort for their symptoms in the form of chewing or trying to put some sort of nutrition in their bodies. The Butte Oroville staff can help determine any greater medical issues that could cause the behavior with an exam and/or blood test.
- Create a "no temptations” zone
Especially if your pet is new to your house or in an unfamiliar environment, try not to leave any tempting items to their disposal. Remove anything that may smell enticing, place valuables out of reach or contain them in their own space, filled with food, water and plenty of appropriate toys for them to enjoy.
Like any habit, teaching your pet to stop chewing takes time and patience. We encourage you to keep a positive attitude and set realistic expectations for your pet. If you have any questions or concerns about a larger medical issue associated with chewing, please give us a call!