How to deal with unwanted chewing

Dogs chew. It’s in their nature, and it’s totally normal behavior. If you try to stop them the only result will be that both you and your dog will become frustrated.

So what you should do is honor their instinct and direct them to something acceptable to chew. Chewing the right things can help strengthen and clean their teeth and provide an intellectual challenge.

What should you do if you come home to find that your best friend has gone through a pair of shoes or destroyed a piece of expensive furniture? The first thing to remember is that it will do no good to discipline the dog or lose your temper and start yelling. Your dog won’t associate your angry reaction with something that happened in the past.

Unless you catch him in the act, he’ll have no idea what you’re upset about. In fact, getting upset could even make matters worse, because your dog will become nervous — and one of the ways dogs calm their nerves is by chewing.

Of course, if you catch your pet in the act, then go ahead and correct the behavior. Stay calm, and lightly touch your pup on the neck or hindquarters to redirect his attention. Don’t try to pull the object away from him if he doesn’t drop it. Instead, try to redirect his attention to a more appropriate item, like a chew toy.

Once your dog has dropped the object, it is important for you to claim it as your own. Use your body language to make it clear that there’s a connection between you and the object. You can pick it up and hold it close to your body, or if it’s something bigger, place yourself close to it and imagine an invisible boundary around you and it. Show calm, assertive energy and make a physical statement that says mine!

Chewing the wrong things isn’t just annoying for you, it can be dangerous for pets. They can break things into pieces small enough to swallow, and they can bite through electric wires or power cords.

Why do dogs chew? Adult dogs do it to calm themselves. It is also something that engages their minds. This may be a habit they’ve had from the time they were puppies and teething. (Chewing helps relieve the pain in their gums as new teeth break through.)

Although it is thought that the memory of ending an unpleasant feeling from puppyhood may help make a dog calm again, you don’t want your dog’s peace of mind to come at the expense of your best furniture! Since we know that dogs want to chew, the smart approach is to make sure we direct them to things we want them to chew.

Give them safe chew toys or consult your vet about edible objects like bones, rawhide, or other chews. Do make sure that plastic and rubber toys are big enough that your dog can’t swallow them. And if it’s the kind of toy you can hide a treat in, make sure it has holes in both ends so air can flow through.

Dogs have 42 teeth — 10 more than humans — with much sharper ones in front and powerful molars in the back that are capable of snapping a bone in two. Because, psychologically, dogs find the action of chewing calming, make sure your best friend has appropriate things to chew.

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