By Audrey Frederick
Suddenly that cute new puppy has turned into a chewing monster; nothing is safe from his/her mouth. What is happening?
Puppies explore their world by means of their mouths. Chewing helps relieve the pain of teething and it is necessary for a dog’s physical and mental health. Chewing helps relieve tension and stress.
Since nature did not give dogs hands to use, their mouths are their source of exploration; their means to investigate new things, tastes, and it is a basic behavior instilled in dogs since the beginning of time.
Puppies start chewing around the age of 3 months, when his/her permanent teeth start coming in and they chew in earnest until the age of six to ten months when most of the permanent teeth have come in. Some dogs will continue to chew until they are 18 to 24 months old as they are strengthening not only their jaws, their teeth also.
Establishing good chewing habits is truly your responsibility, puppies and/or dogs do not know a proper thing to chew from an improper thing unless you teach them.
Giving your puppy an old shoe to chew teaches the puppy that all shoes are for chewing, the same goes for old socks, old purses, an old book or anything else that you have in the household. The puppy does not know old from new, a designer bag from an old one or a new sock from an old one. However, you do, so lesson number one is be selective in what you give your dog to chew.
Start out on the right foot and give your puppy only proper chew toys. Currently there is a debate going on considering the safety of such chew toys as rawhide, pigs ears, the many varieties of dog bones, cow hooves and even rope tugs. I do not intend to get into the middle of that debate and my suggestion is if you want to give your puppy any of these hotly debated items, do so. However, watch how you puppy handles it and if you see the item falling apart in chunks or pieces, dispose of it immediately.
It is highly recommended that you offer your puppy/dog a stuffed Kong toy or a Buster Cube to tackle that is filled with dry kibble. This not only will keep him/her busy, but will work off excess energy, too.
What are some of the other reason dogs chew besides teething. Well, boredom is a primary one, dogs need stimulation, and dogs are not cats that can sit and stare into space all day. They need exercise; they have an abundance of energy that needs to be worked off. Playtime is important to a puppy and even a grown dog. Walking or running in the park helps curb many unwanted behavioral problems. Dogs are also very happy with jobs to do; this is where obedience training comes in handy. Going through obedience exercises gives a dog a reason to be. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog, that is a mantra worth remembering.
What are some other causes of chewing? Believe it or not poor nutrition can be a cause. The lack of proper nutrients in a dog’s diet can cause a dog to chew many things in an effort to fulfill its need for certain nutrients. Buying the best food you can afford for your pet will not only save you money in vet bills but will help keep your pet from chewing up valuable items.
Separation anxiety and/or being alone too long can also cause a dog to chew. Chewing is comforting to a dog; it eases its mind. Think about this for a moment, a baby enjoys its pacifier, a youngster enjoys a lollipop and we adults enjoy chewing on a number of things. We find comfort in what we do and so does your dog.
Allergies, fleas and again nutritional deficiencies can cause a dog to chew on itself. If your dog starts chewing on itself and you can not determine if it is a flea problem, take your dog to your vet, as it is important to stop the problem before any serious infections can occur.
If your dog is chewing on hard objects is can be a sign of a gum or tooth problem that needs to be taken care of.
Dogs do not chew to be vindictive or spiteful. Dogs chew because nature designed them that way and there are certain circumstances in a dog’s life that may encourage chewing that is not desirable.
What can you do to prevent your valuables from being chewed up?
If you have a new puppy, dog proof your house. Remove all temptation. Shoes, children’s toys, panty hose, socks, towels, remotes, telephones and anything else chewable should be removed from the areas that a puppy can reach easily. Remember the puppy does not know what it can chew from what it cannot. Provide plenty of chew toys and confine the puppy to one area only. Do not let a puppy roam your house unsupervised unless you want destruction to occur.
Older dogs need to be exercised, they need obedience training, they need playtime with you, they need chewable toys, and they need to be shown what is acceptable to chew and what is not.
If you have not been able to take the time to train your dog, confine the dog to an area that is cleared of items the dog can hurt. Do not confine the dog to a crate for long periods of time or banish the dog out in the yard. Training is your job and you are the party with the brains, it is up to you to show your dog what is acceptable and what is not.
Your dog only wants to please you and it will if you just do your part.
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