What can I do to make my dog chew less?

 |  Feb 14th 2008  |   4 Contributions


I have adopted a three-year-old mixed/hound. She has
mostly foxhound and beagle in her. I got her from
the pound and she was there for several months.
We believe she was used for hunting because of her
lack of socialization in the house. The problem is that
she chews everything. Chair legs, toys, fabric. She
likes to lay on soft things and I bought her a bed and
she chews and ingests the fabric and stuffing,
which in turn makes her sick. I want to provide a
soft bed for her and toys to play with, but she
destroys them within hours and I don't want her
to be sick and possibly die. Is she bored,
lonely? We provide lots of love and attention,
and as much excercise as possible with the Ohio
weather. Help!!!

Lori
West Liberty, Ohio

All dogs need to chew. Some, however, take it to extremes. Youth, anxiety, boredom, and individual preferences all contribute to excessive chewing.

Your dog was recently adopted, and there is a very good chance that her behavior developed in the shelter. After all, several months in the pound sounds like a recipe for anxiety and boredom in a dog. It is very likely that the chewing will decrease over time as she becomes comfortable and begins to feel secure in her new home.

However, I do not recommend that you simply try to wait this out. You can consider several tricks that may help with the problem.

You have already mentioned the first trick: exercise. I understand the trials and tribulations of getting enough exercise in winter weather. However, I strongly suspect that increased exercise will help with this problem. Simply put, if a dog is happily tired after a heavy workout, she won't have energy to expend chewing on on her bed or the sofa. If there is too much snow for long walks or runs, try to train her to play fetch.

Speaking of training, adding enrichment to your dog's life may help with this problem as well. Enrichment means mental stimulation. You have mentioned that she is not well socialized in some respects. Dedicate time each day to working on that. As well, teach her tricks. This sort of intellectual activity helps eliminate boredom.

Remember that some degree of chewing is natural and necessary for dogs. I recommend that you provide appropriate chew toys, and encourage your girl to use them (with appropriate supervision, of course). As well, consider offering every meal in a chew toy (such as a Kong). This dramatically increases the length of each meal, and it enables dogs to chew productively for a solid block of time.

Finally, don't forget that excessive chewing poses a risk not only to your property, but to your dog's health. If she consumes too much bedding material, a life-threatening surgical emergency could occur. Until this problem is resolved, I recommend that you confine her in a crate or safe area whenever she is not under your direct supervision.

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