Have you ever tried coming home to find teeth marks all over your furniture? Or walking into your bedroom to find your dog chewing up your favorite pair of shoes? Many dog owners know the feeling of coming home to unexpected damage and they probably ask themselves, why!? Why is my dear pup always chewing on stuff?

dog and soft toyWhy are dogs chewing on things?

When dogs are chewing on different objects throughout the home it often means that they are investigating. Even though they also make great use of their vision and sense of smell to explore the world, one of their favorite ways to take in new information is through the mouth. Chewing can also be part of playing. When your furry friend is running around, chewing up a book or a stuffed animal, it may be part of his game. Additionally, when your dear pup puts an object in the mouth it’s a way of satisfying a natural urge to chew and gnaw to keep teeth and gums healthy.

For younger dogs (age 3-6 months), chewing can be a sign of teething. During teething, puppies will sink their chomps into almost anything, as it’s a way for them to explore the world and learn about different objects.

In some cases, chewing might be part of destructive behavior. If a dog is bored or anxious he may turn to chewing and other forms of destructiveness. If that’s the case, you might need to consult a behavior professional for help with the anxiety and fear-related behaviors.

How to stop the chewing

The first thing you have to do is to determine why your dog is chewing. Is it part of a game? Is it because of investigation (and perhaps teething)? Or is it because of anxiety (here you should consult a professional)? When you know the reason you can develop your own treatment strategy. No matter what strategy you use, you always have to remember to stay calm. Unleashing your anger on your dog won’t help. In fact, it can further unbalance your dog and move him to seek another object to chew to calm down!

If you want to direct the chewing away from your shoes and towards other alternatives you have to correct your dog in a gentle manner. Do not try to grab the object away but use a light touch correction to get your dog’s attention away from the object. Make sure that you have an alternative object ready that your dog can chew safely, like a chewing toy. Always have enough toys that your dog can chew and explore different objects. If you have a very exploratory dog you need to give him sufficient play and exercise to reduce inappropriate chewing.

And, as a general rule, take responsibility for your own belongings. If you don’t want it in your dog’s mouth, don’t make it available. Keep clothing, shoes, books, trash and remote controls out of your dog’s reach.

Do you have experience with a dog chewing up your belongings? What did you do? We would like to get some tips!