Chewing and Digging

Author: gibbywmu
July 19, 2008


It is natural for puppies to explore their environment, however, their natural curiosity often leads to frustration on your part when they chew your favorite slippers or dig up your flower bed. While you may be tempted to punish your naughty pup, reinforcing good behavior is much more effective and will keep you and your dog happier.

Destructive chewing may be related to anxiety. It is important to train your dog to lie on its bed or in a crate, rather than constantly at your side. Teaching your dog that he or she cannot always receive attention on demand may lessen anxiety. For dogs with separation anxiety, begin with short departures and then gradually increase the length of your time away to lessen their anxiety.

Chew treats are a great way to keep your puppy busy as well as relieve pain associated with teething. Present your puppy with a variety of treats, like lamb ears, to determine which types he likes best, but never give your dog chew toys that resemble household items that you do not want him to chew, i.e. a toy shaped like a shoe. Rotate different treats to keep your puppy’s interest and reward your puppy with praise when he chews on them.

There are many reasons why dogs dig: to cool off, search for rodents, bury and recover bones or other toys, escape confinement or just for fun. Dogs may be more prone to dig when they are left alone without another diversion. To keep your dog stimulated and occupied, provide him with chew toys and increase play and exercise time to tire him out. You may also consider getting a second dog.

You can discourage digging by changing the groundcover (replace dirt with rocks or concrete) or use remote punishment (turn on a sprinkler or toss a tin can filled with pebbles next to your pet to startle him). If your dog continues to dig, you may want to provide a digging area for him to reinforce appropriate digging.

Chewing & How to Survive It

Author: gibbywmu
May 28, 2008

dog chewing

What is adolescent chewing?

Adolescent chewing (or exploratory chewing as it is also known) commonly occurs in dogs between puppyhood and adulthood at 7-12 months of age.

This chewing stage can last for up to 6 months.

Adolescent chewing is different from puppy teething since it happens after all the needle-like puppy teeth have fallen out. Adolescent dogs often have an uncontrollable urge to chew. This could be because of discomfort in their gums as their adult teeth are settling into the jawbone.

This kind of chewing also occurs as the young dog is attempting to find out about his environment and discover new things.

Other reasons for chewing:

An unbalanced diet – if a dog does not have enough calcium in his diet, for example, he may try to compensate by chewing stones or plaster. Puppies and dogs of all ages should be fed a balanced diet, according to their age, weight, health status and the amount of exercise they receive. You should consult your vet for advice on the best diet to feed your dog.
Attention-seeking – if your dog learns that by picking something up in his mouth (such as a TV remote control) you get up and chase him round the room, he will quickly learn that this is a great way to get your attention.
Distress at being left alone – some dogs cannot cope with being separated from their owners and can be destructive when left.
Puppy teething – occurs from 3-7 months of age. During this time, puppies have an uncontrollable urge to chew things to relieve some of the discomfort in their gums. Chewing also facilitates the removal of puppy teeth, and the eruption of the adult set.  Giving the dog chewable treats, such as bully sticks will also help keep the dog busy and focused on one thing.
Boredom – Dogs that are left alone for long periods or receive inadequate mental and physical stimulation are likely to become bored. Working breeds, such as Springer Spaniels, that have naturally high activity levels become easily bored in the wrong home, which can lead to destructive behaviour when left.

Kenneled dogs:

Young dogs that have been kennelled during their adolescent months, and therefore prevented from carrying out normal chewing and exploratory behaviours, will often chew when they then go to live in a normal home environment.

This can occur with dogs that have been kept in barren quarantine, rescue, working or boarding kennels. In these dogs the adolescent chewing stage may be prolonged.