Does Fletch partake in some destructive chewing? Does Trudy chew you out of house and home?
Dogs tend to chew out of boredom, hunger, stress, teething, among other reasons.
These tips can help with all of these issues:
Exercise: Physical OR Mental
Exercise is by far one of the best solutions to many dog problems. Exercise is more than just letting them run on their own in the back yard. It’s more stimulating and exhaustive if it’s an activity with you. Be it a walk, a jog around the block (or several blocks), game of fetch in the yard (or living room even!). Or, a round of training, problem solving. A few minutes of basic commands with a dog just learning, a longer session with a dog who knows their stuff (keep them on their toes by doing cues randomly rather than in any particular order). Play hide and seek, ask your dog to wait, go hide, then have them find you (or another family member). Hide their favorite toy for them to find. At first make it obvious, like sticking out from under the couch. Graduate slowly to hiding it under a basket, in a box, behind a closed door… Harder and harder to find, but not impossible. You can also do this with treats, get their noses working. Just like us, using brain power uses energy thus making them tired.
Food Stuffed Toy
I keep rotating prepared Kongs (or similar toys for stuffing). I keep three so I have 2 in the freezer at all times. As I give one, I fill and freeze the previous one which had long since been finished. These can be stuffed with their kibble, treats, veggies, cooked meat, or any combination of these. To make them last especially long, just as I describe in the Overweight Dogs post, you can run some water through them to get the contents moistened before freezing. If your dog is a healthy weight or underweight, you can use low sodium, low fat, stock instead of water. Do watch where you give these though as they can be a bit messy. They are great for in the crate, tiled floor, or outside.
*Added training value* To help crate train, use these toys in the back of the crate. You can either give it only when they are closed in their crate, or use a short cord to tie it into the back of the crate so they can’t take it and run (short enough so they can’t get it wrapped around them). This helps make crate time more fun.
Treat Dispensing Toys
These are balls, cubes, wobbly things, etc. that the dog has to interact with to make the pieces of kibble or treats fall out. Usually one small hole, as the dog rolls the ball, for example, a treat would fall out of the hole onto the floor. A good DIY version is to cut small holes in a few places around a plastic soda, sport drink, water, etc. bottle. They have to figure out what is making that happen. Some can be adjusted after they’ve figured it out so it’s a little harder each time. This helps with both boredom, and hunger. It can also help distract them from what was causing them stress if that’s what was causing their chewing.
Raw Marrow Bones
*Consult your Veterinarian before choosing bones for your dog. These can be found in the butcher section of many grocery stores, or you can request them. They can be long sections, or what I call ‘coins’ which are slices rather than a long segment. Just be sure they aren’t so small your dog can choke. These should be kept in the freezer when not being chewed on, they can get a bit stinky when left out. Important to note, they should not be cooked! Cooked bones can splinter and get stuck in the digestive tract. These are also great for crate training.
If little Chuckie starts chewing the table leg, don’t make a big deal of it, simply redirect him to a chew toy, stuffed toy, antler, bully stick, etc. so he knows what he is allowed to chew. These items should be more exciting/rewarding than what they were chewing. Having these items available at will can help him/her make the choice to chew them rather than the couch. Use caution when giving rope toys or rawhide, strings or pieces of rawhide can get lodged in the intestines and require surgery to remove.
In cooler weather, a bowl of ice, or ice added to their water bowl indoors, gives them something to chew on. This helps with the urge to chew, especially in puppies who are teething. In warmer weather, take a bowl, throw in a squeaker toy, some treats, kibble, chunks of meat, etc. then fill it with water and freeze it. When Polly is panting on the patio, you can take the frozen chunk out and let her lick and chew it to her heart’s content. This can be given inside if you’re ok with water getting on the floor, or the ice can be kept in the bowl (doesn’t give as much chewing opportunity but helps with boredom). Some dogs won’t know what to do with the ice, you can get them more excited by adding some low sodium chicken stock (or any variety low sodium stock/broth) to the water before freezing.
Hope these help!
For best results, these should be varied and rotated occasionally. Keep them guessing what activity will be in store for them today!
Have you ever found a stray chewed up bottle from medicine, vitamins, spices, etc. that you weren’t sure if it was pulled out of the trash empty, or stolen from a cabinet full? Of course, one way to prevent this is to keep the cabinets shut with child/puppy proof locks, and the trash safely out of reach of the dog. But, things happen, stuff gets left out, trash bins accessible, etc. So, if you’re throwing away an empty bottle, jar, canister, packaging, from something dangerous for the dog to eat, use a permanent marker to write ’empty’ on it before tossing it out. That way, if you find it chewed up later, you don’t have to worry that your dog just ate 200 acetaminophen tablets!