Is your dog chewing?

If your dog is a puppy then obviously it is down to teething.  They lose their deciduous teeth at roughly three months of age.  It takes between three to six months of age, for all the adult teeth to come through.  However dont be lured into a false sense of security when it concerns dogs chewing up your personal belongings just because the teething phase has passed does not necessarily mean the chewing will automatically stop.

Why do dogs chew?  It gives bored pups something to do, relieves the pain of the movement of the teeth and also helps keep their teeth clean.  In the older dog it can be as a result of learned behaviour, separation anxiety as well as the fact to the dog it feels nice to simply have a munch on something.

Young dogs go through a hormonal spurt at roughly 6 months or so which can encourage all sorts of behaviour that we had hoped were firmly behind us.  In short some areas of training need to be revisited such as recall!!  With chewing it is a case of making sure you leave nothing of value within your dogs reach.  As your shoes will be a tasty treat for your dog but it is YOUR FAULT if they are left laying about.

Provide kongs and chewie raggers for your dog to gnaw at.  If you soak food so that it goes mushy, put this in the kong and freeze it.  This will give your dog something to do in getting to the frozen food.  If the chewing is down to teething then the coolness will help soothe the gums.  The rope raggers are also very useful for dogs that like to chew, so you could place one of these in the freezer also.

I find young dogs that are chewing excessively should have plenty of cardboard boxes available to chew, as they will grow out of the chewing phase.  As at this stage it isnt through seperation anxiety.

Leaving out toys to play with will help but if you find bits have been chewed off then you must throw the toy away.  No point in being sentimental about a toy that could cause a blockage.  Remove squeekers as soon as they are visible!

Chewing on a bone will keep their teeth nice and clean!

You should of course keep a regular check on the state of your dogs gums and teeth in case there are any underlying issues which may be causing irritation to your dog.  Looking for inflamed gums at the edge of the tooth bed.

Labradors are very mouth orientated.  Sometimes chewing can take up to two years to grow out of.  One of my labradors mentioning no names (Charlie!) had a particular fondness for lunchboxes and wooden spoons.  This was proving rather costly as he would remove the lunchboxes from the draining board to chew up into lots of little bits.

Usually dogs will grow out of chewing things, you need to ensure they have their own toys that are suitable for chewing on.  To a certain extent you need to tolerate the losses caused by needling teeth.  If you cannot tolerate your home being chewed a little bit then DONT get a pup, rescue a dog that is roughly 12 months of age or so.  Most dogs will have grown out of the chewing by then with the odd exception taking two years!

Over the years I have seen dogs chew skirting boards, bookcases, plaster off the walls, doors, tables and chairs.  Basically anything they can get their teeth around they will chew.  Wood will be a favourite so kitchen tables and chairs tend to get it the most.  You can try and protect your furniture using tin cans on the legs but in my experience the dogs will simply chew above the tin can.  It is an idea that *may* work so worth a shot!  If a kitchen chair is chewed I would keep it in the kitchen as this may help the dog chew just that item rather than going on to the next non chewed chair.

It has to be understood that a door which has been chewed a bit here and there is not destructive behaviour but normal puppy behaviour in contrast a dog that has gone on the rampage chewing up, ripping up the sofa is not normal and is destructive.  There is always a cause to all behaviour.  Whether it is due to growing up – therefore has to be tolerated and managed OR if down to destructive behaviour the cause needs to be identified and prevented appropriately.

Destructive behaviour is when the dog is clearly running about chewing as it goes, such as grabbing curtains and tugging them off the wall, bringing the pole with it is creating merry chaos.  Ripping up the carpet and chewing up the underlay is not a simple case of chewing because the dog needs to.  This type of chewing is clearly a sign of distress, separation anxiety.

Of course it has to be said that crates will protect your house.  Something to think about.  We dont tend to do cages in this house as I am far too soft but they do work for some owners an their dogs.

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