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Why Does My Dog Chew On Things?

Written by ADAPTIL Expert, published on May 29, 2024

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For our pups, chewing is a very normal part of doggy life! We may think at times that they are chewing to annoy us, but this is far from the case and is a very normal dog behaviour.  If you’ve ever thought, “Why do my dogs chew so much?”, you’ve come to the right place. Today’s blog will help answer that question while providing insight on what to do when you spot your furry friend chewing something they shouldn’t be and how to prevent it from happening again. 

Why Is Your Dog Chewing On Things?

Chewing has many roles to play in a pup’s life:

  1. Teething: Chewing can relieve a puppy’s gum pain whilst they go through their teething stage. This period of chewing usually ends when their adult teeth have come through, around the 6–8-month-old mark. Take a look at our top tips to help with brushing your dogs teeth
  2. Examining: Our pooches explore things differently to humans, as their preferred method is to use their mouth instead of their paws (or hands, like us!). This often results in a lot of chewing while they learn what different objects are.
  3. Boredom: Chewing is a fantastic way to keep the boredom away and can actually relieve mild anxiety or frustration.

As we discover more about our own dogs’ behaviour, they are learning too! This is why it is very important to give your pup safe, appropriate items for them to chew to let them express this natural behaviour.


 

Young Golden Retriever playing with a multi-coloured dog chew

Problem Chewing – What Is It?

Problem chewing can occur when your dog chews things you don’t want them to, or when they are chewing more than usual in certain situations. It is important to pay attention to your dog’s behaviour, this way you can see if they are acting normally or if you think their behaviour is abnormal for them.

Your dog may problem chew if they are:

1. Left Home Alone

A dog who feels nervous when left alone will show obvious signs of discomfort in their body language. Drooling, barking and restlessness are all common signs of discomfort. They might chew to help soothe themselves in these types of situations.

2. Weaned Too Early

Some pups lick, suck and chew fabric which can be often connected to being weaned too early in their life. It is possible for this dog behaviour to become compulsive once they have started. We advise seeking help from a vet if you notice this compulsive behaviour. 

3. Hungry

If your pooch is on a calorie-controlled diet, or a diet lacking in specific nutrients, they may chew objects as a way to find additional nutrition. Always speak to your vet when looking to change your pup’s diet.  

 

 

Black Labrador holding a dog chew toy.

How To Stop Your Dog From Chewing Forbidden Things


The answer is very straightforward! There are multiple ways that you can stop your dog from chewing things that they shouldn’t. Firstly, we recommend that you have appropriate toys and chews for your pup to use when they need to chew. It is best to have a range of toys in varying materials to keep your pup interested in what is available. This way, you can also rotate between toys to ensure your dog doesn’t get bored.


Next - reward, reward, reward! Positive reinforcement is key when looking to train your pup. To help your pooch learn, bring out the safe chew and when they investigate it, reward them. This can be with a treat or praise - whatever works best for you both. This helps your dog learn what is acceptable to chew and keeps the chewable items interesting.


We also recommend when you want this dog behaviour to stop, put the problem object out of reach. It sounds simple, but the mere act of removing the forbidden item will help your pup to understand what is acceptable to chew.


If you are not sure what is safe for your dog to chew, speak to your vet clinic. They can help guide you to what is safe for the level of chewing your pooch enjoys whilst simultaneously looking after their health (and teeth).

 

 

Puppy chewing rope toy.

 

What To Do When Dogs Chew Something They Shouldn’t


Whilst your dog learns what is safe and what isn’t, they will inevitably chew something they shouldn’t. If you notice this, don’t punish them! Instead, distract them with an object they can chew and reward/praise where necessary. 

If you have ever thought “Why do my dogs chew?”, try mapping out the times that they chew more often. This way it will be easier to notice whether it is due to boredom, stress etc. If you find that the behaviour is more common for your dog when they are stressed, you could try ADAPTIL Calm – a great way to create a reassuring environment at home for nervous pups.

In these instances, another way you can help is by giving them an alternative which entertains their brain, such as an interactive activity/puzzle feeder. 

If your dog suddenly starts chewing more, or chewing objects that they never used to, we recommend contacting your vet, as there may be an underlying medical reason for this change. 

   Shiba Inu puppy chewing a red toy on the carpet.

Are you interested in learning more about dog behaviour or why dogs chew? Get in touch! We love helping in any way we can. You can also stay informed with our latest tips, guides, and product information by signing up to our newsletter.

Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.

Make sure to join our community for weekly advice from our dog behaviour experts as well as product offers and competitions. 

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