Cap Region Pets

Behavior help: My dog chews on everything!

Q: Why does my dog chew up everything?

A: Chewing is fulfilling for dogs. It goes back to their wolf ancestry of hunting and tearing apart of the prey, only now it’s a bed or squeaky toy. Puppies chew because their mouths are uncomfortable when teething, just like babies. Upset dogs also may chew, gnawing on something that retains your scent, like your shoes. Some breeds such as Labs, Retrievers and Goldens like to chew and hold things in their mouths more than other breeds.

Help your dog curb inappropriate chewing by providing increased physical and mental stimulation. He needs an outlet for his energy. Play with him more often and take him on more walks. Make outings interesting by letting him explore a scent he likes and take a different route occasionally. If all you ever do is walk down the block, pee, turn and go home, it’s boring for your dog.

Food puzzles, in which your dog works to get to his treat or meal, are useful activities, too. Other puzzles require your dog to figure out how to release his favorite ball or toy before he can play with it.

For teething pups, provide puppy-strength chew toys that are softer than adult versions. Freeze the toys to offer more relief.

If you catch your dog mid-chew, calmly remove the inappropriate object and replace it with his toy. Praise lavishly when he takes it. If you come home to a mess, simply it clean up. Even though you swear your dog looks “guilty,” he’s actually reacting to your anger when you yell and doesn’t associate his behavior with wrongdoing. He cowers to appease you but has no clue why you’re scowling at him right now.

If you’ve increased your dog’s activity levels, but are still having issues, consult a trainer because your dog may be dealing with separation anxiety.

By Arricca SanSone

Expert advice provided by Mikkel Becker, certified trainer specializing in dogs and cats and certified behavior consultant for vetstreet.com.