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A Gnawing Problem
Posted by Luce on October 2, 2012
Filed under PetMeds Spotlight

If you have a dog at home that has exhibited sings of bad behavior in the past, you’ve surely experienced anxiety about returning home to find something destroyed. Chewing can become a huge problem if it’s not dealt with from the first time you witness it. More often than not, dogs who chew things like shoes or children’s toys quickly escalate to electronics, cords, and walls. This is not only a horribly destructive behavior but can be detrimental to your dog’s health and well-being.

Chewing is Not Always Bad
Let me clarify; the act of chewing is bad but not all dogs who chew things are knowingly exhibiting bad behavior. Dogs do not have hands and fingers so they usually use their other senses to explore their surroundings. By putting things in their mouths, much like babies, they can feel and taste them. It is your job to let them know what they can and cannot put into their mouths. By providing your dog with plenty of tough chew toys and dog treats, you are guiding him as to what is his. By keeping items out of his reach (clothes, shoes, remote controllers, etc.) and immediately disciplining him if he reaches them, you are setting boundaries. If you see him getting something that is off limits, take it away and replace it with one of his toys.

When Good Dogs Chew
Puppies chew out of curiosity, to curb the pain of teething, and as a part of the learning process. When adult dogs chew things there are usually other reasons behind the actions. The first thing you will need to do is to try and determine what the reason is behind the chewing. Is he bored? Is he scared? Is he stressed? Is he sick? There are many reasons and they can all be handled effectively once you determine the cause. If your dog is chewing because of fear or separation anxiety, you may need to consult a veterinarian. There are medications that can be used during stressful times that could help to curb stressful feelings and help your dog cope and feel calm.

If your dog has developed bad behaviors because you did not set boundaries when he was a pup, you will have a more difficult time correcting him now. Whatever you don’t want your dog to have you must keep out of reach. Keep clothing and shoes in closets, keep children’s toys in bins, and keep everything else on tables and counters. Don’t ever offer items that you would otherwise punish him for taking. If you knot up some old socks to play tug-o-war with, don’t get mad at him for destroying your new socks!

If your dog is chewing because of boredom, you’re lucky. It’s easier to correct this than anything else. The one thing your dog wants that he is probably not getting is your attention. He can’t separate good attention from bad attention so if behaving badly gets your attention then he will stick with it. This is really all on you as his owner. You need to give your dog the attention that he requires for his breed and his age. Dogs get bored easily and need plenty of mental and physical stimulation to keep them occupied. If you provide him with hours of love, play, walks and buckets of toys, you’ll have a recipe for a happy and non-destructive dog!

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