Dogs are very oral creatures and they oftentimes use their mouths to explore the world. Since they have a more sensitive sense of taste, chewing on objects is a common way for them to become familiar. However, when it comes to your furniture or belongings, I’m sure most pet owners would agree that no amount of curiosity makes up for reunited objects in the home. That’s why we work with our clients to help them correct unwanted chewing behavior.
At a young age, dogs learn about their surroundings before their eyes are even open by feeling around with their mouths. How else do you think they found mom’s nipples? When they reached a few weeks old, chewing became a comfort habit. Similarly to human babies, loosing and growing new teeth can be a painful process. Once the adult teeth are in place, some dogs just never lose the habit… Until training is put in place.
Here are some potential reasons that an adult dog may chew on something:
- Confusion over play toys and off-limit objects
- Anxiety when you’re not at home
- Attention, albeit negative, from you
Here are a few ways that you can adjust the chewing situation, no matter what the reason:
Train your pet as soon as he or she comes home.
Good habits and some forms of discipline should start the first day you welcome your new pet into your 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 (which you should have a few of around the house!).
Seek professional help when necessary.
If positive reinforcement and discipline don’t seem to be cutting it with your dog, you may need to enlist in professional help. The first place to start, before reaching out to a trainer, is the vet. 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. The Los Banos Veterinary Clinic staff can help determine if this is a larger issue and can even put you in touch with trainers if the problem is behavioral.
Whether your pet is in training or even has a clean track record of not chewing, it’s best to keep tempting objects out of reach. 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.
Training your pet to stop or avoid chewing can take time and patience from both of you. Most owners find success when they have a positive attitude and set realistic expectations for their pets. Remember that the Los Banos Veterinary Clinic staff is here for you to answer any questions, check for larger issues that could cause the chewing or put you in touch with any trainers!