Two of the most challenging aspects of raising a puppy is preventing their need to chew and eat everything. According to smartlypet.com, there are several unique tricks that you can use to stop this type of frustrating behavior. By analyzing the root of the problem and addressing it with consistent training, you can quickly curb constant gnawing.
How To Analyze Chewing and Eating Behaviors
There are plenty of parallels that you can draw between puppies and babies, especially in early behaviors. Like children, puppies need to explore the world using their mouths, which can often lead to destructive behaviors.
Although it’s natural, it needs to be addressed early. Otherwise, your dog could continue to chew and eat everything into their adult years.
Destructive vs. Normal Chewing
The first step is to differentiate between destructive and normal chewing. If your dog continually chews on their favorite toy, for example, this isn’t a cause for concern. It becomes challenging when they begin chewing on items like furniture and clothing.
Once you discover that your dog’s behavior is destructive chewing, it could result from a few issues. These problems include:
- Boredom: Dogs that aren’t regularly entertained tend to try to entertain themselves with maladaptive behaviors.
- Lack of Training: Puppies that haven’t been taught what they can and can’t chew on will chew everything.
- Fear: When panicked or afraid of external stimuli, dogs will try to soothe their nerves by chewing consistently.
- Lack of Attention: Like boredom, when owners don’t pay enough attention to their dogs, they try to remedy the inattentiveness with negative behaviors.
- Separation Anxiety: Pets experiencing severe anxiety from being separated from their owners can experience consistent chewing and gnawing.
- Compulsive Behavior: Sometimes, dogs weaned too early can develop compulsive chewing behaviors.
- Hunger: If a dog is on a restrictive diet, they will try to get nutrition from other objects that smell like food.
In some instances, you might need to seek help from an animal behavior professional or trainer. For example, separation anxiety typically requires professional advice and training to curb the behavior. A few of the other reasons, such as boredom and lack of training, can be addressed at home.
What Causes Destructive Eating Behaviors?
Like chewing, dogs can tend to want to eat everything and anything. Most often, it has to do with something they smell on objects, even if they’re inanimate. A few of the most common destructive eating behaviors could be a result of the following:
In more severe cases, pica could be a result of your dog eating everything. Like the human form of the condition, pica is an obsessive urge to eat inanimate objects, like dirt, sand, and rocks.
One of the most significant signs of this disorder is a lack of nutrition in the dog’s diet. If you suspect this is the case with your dog, ensure you consult your veterinarian.
Searching for Nutrition
Another significant contributor to destructive eating is your dog searching for extra nutrition. This is one of the top causes of dogs eating waste from cows, horses, or even cats. When they smell the waste of other animals, they also sense the nutrients left behind in their droppings.
You might also notice your pets are attracted to garden mulch, grass, and dirt. These items all have an earthy-scent reminiscent of mushrooms, which can be attractive to their senses. However, it’s essential to monitor your dog’s grazing behavior outdoors since many items, like mushrooms, can be poisonous.
How To Curb Destructive Chewing and Eating
Dealing with destructive chewing is a task that will take a lot of time and effort from both you and your pet. Fortunately, there are a ton of useful dog training tips that you can use to discourage gnawing.
Introduce Chewable Toys
One of the top-tier recommendations is to introduce chewable toys that your dog is allowed to play with. This technique is a fantastic way to teach them what they can and can’t chew, protecting your personal belongings. It can be beneficial to cycle through several toys weekly, so your pet never loses interest in their chew toys.
An essential tip to introducing chewable toys is to ensure they don’t look like regular household items. For example, if your dog loves chewing on socks, it’s best to avoid sock-like toys since this will encourage their behavior.
Dog-Proof the House
While you’re working on your dog’s chewing behavior, it’s a good idea to consider dog-proofing. You want to limit your dog’s access to possible dangers that they can get their teeth on. For example, you’ll want to remove toxic plants, electrical cords, as well as cleaners and chemicals.
The last thing any pet parent wants is to have their pets chew on dangerous and toxic items accidentally. If you’re bringing home a new puppy, it can be a good idea to block off access to specific rooms, such as bathrooms and kitchens. This step can make it easier to control the items they have access to in the house.
Maintain Constant Supervision
Bringing a new puppy home requires a lot of dedicated time, especially if they tend to chew and eat everything. Maintaining constant supervision can ensure you reinforce positive behaviors and eliminate negative ones. It’s also a fantastic way to ensure your pets don’t get into anything they’re not allowed to, like toxic plants.
Pet parents highly recommend finding a specific area of your home and making it safe for your pet. You can use playpens and indoor fences to give them a puppy-approved space to play with their favorite toys.
When they explore the rest of the house, you’ll want to monitor their behavior to find items they’re curious about. This process will give you a good idea of specific triggers in your home.
Improving Mental and Physical Exercise
As mentioned, chewing is a prominent sign of a lack of attention or boredom from your dog. Ensuring your pet gets the proper amount of mental and physical exercise is essential, especially for intelligent breeds.
Although your pets can entertain themselves for short periods, they will need human stimulation. You’ll want to determine the total amount of exercise they need based on their breed, health, and age. There are plenty of exercise options, whether you take them outside or purchase puzzle toys for them to figure out.
There are many ways that you can stop your dog from continually chewing and eating all of your personal belongings. You’ll find it’s more straightforward with training, healthy levels of exercise, and an assortment of approved chew toys. If the problem has extended beyond your control, consider hiring an animal behavior specialist to help.