By Dr. Andrew Jones
Dog chewing is a completely normal behavior, but destructive chewing is inappropriate, and needs to be quickly stopped. In this article you will learn why dogs chew, whether you have a puppy or an adult dog. Prevention really is you best option, and you will find the top tips here. Lastly you’ll learn the most important holistic veterinary remedies to quickly stop your dog’s chewing fast.
Most every dog chews; this is first seen in puppies who will soon chew on their mother after drinking. The mouth is a key sense organ for your dog, and they use their mouth similar to how children sense the world with their hands. The problems arise when dogs chew shoes, clothing, and parts of your house. Causes of destructive chewing include teething; as puppies lose baby teeth, and have adult teeth emerging they will chew in response to the discomfort. Separation anxiety is often shown with destructive chewing. This is excessive anxiety that your dog experiences in response to you leaving, and the resulting anxiety overrides their training, resulting in damage to your home. Noise phobia, such as what happens to some dogs with thunderstorms, can also result in destructive chewing.
Prevention is the preferred option for most dog behavioral problems, such as dog chewing. If you have a puppy, enroll in a basic dog training class, learning basic commands. Your pup will learn commands such as ‘leave it’ or ‘out’ – they need to know what is OK to chew on and what isn’t. Ensure that your house is puppy proofed, meaning that loose clothing, shoes etc are out of reach of their mouths. The basic point here is to avoid problems, and set them up for success. Provide several chewable toys, and rotate them weekly. One of my favorites is a Kong toy, filled with peanut butter and frozen. This keeps my dog entertained for hours.
If prevention is not working, then you need to be considering specific options to be treating destructive dog chewing at home. Bitter Apple is a safe, non-toxic repellent spray. Place it on your couch or shoes. Tabasco sauce is another effective repellent, as some pets will even lick bitter apple.
If the chewing cannot be controlled then confine your pet. Dogs often feel more secure in a small, more confined space. Begin by only leaving your pet for a short time, no more than 1 hour, gradually increasing the time away. The maximum time should be 4 hours.
T-Touch is a specific type of massage which can calm your pet. Tracing circles on their tail, mouth and ears each day has a surprisingly calming effect. We have often used a form of this to calm nervous animals in the exam room – the ear tips are especially sensitive.
Rescue remedy has been safely used by thousands of dog owners, and it may help your dog. It is a Flower essence, completely safe, and easily applied by putting 4-6 drops in your dog’s mouth prior to leaving, or adding to your dog’s water.
Valerian is a herb which has helped for dogs with separation anxiety and destructive chewing. It may decrease excessive chewing from your pet, but it must be given for 2 weeks. The dose is 50 mg per lb of the dried herb or 1 drop per lb of body weight twice daily of the extract.
Dog chewing can be a serious dog behavioral problem, but there are a number of things that you can do at home to both prevent and treat it. Remember that it is normal for your dog to chew, but they need to learn the boundaries of what to chew and what not. Start with basic dog training, puppy proof your house, and give appropriate chew toys. Consider the use of a dog kennel combined with training. Lastly look at some of the suggested holistic options for dog chewing and anxiety, such as T-touch, Valerian, and Bach Rescue Remedy.
Dr Andrew Jones, DVM
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