5 min read
Chewing and digging are natural behaviours for a dog, but they can become a problem for many reasons. If your lounge room often looks like it's covered in fake Christmas snow, you are on your tenth pair of slippers this month, or your yard looks like a minefield after all the mines have exploded, here's how to stop your dog chewing and digging.
It's easy to think that your dog is punishing you for leaving them alone all day, but that's not why your new shoes are a mangled mess. As we said, chewing and digging is what dogs do naturally, especially when they don't have anything more interesting to occupy themselves.
Dogs are inquisitive, curious creatures, and in the absence of toys and social interaction, they will find other ways to pass the time. Unfortunately, this can mean your couch cushions and wooden furniture are prime candidates for a few minutes of destructive entertainment.
In short, your dog's bad behaviour stems from them being bored, lonely, or a bit of both. So, if you want to stop your dog chewing and digging, then you need to provide them with alternative, less destructive outlets.
Digging is a favourite activity of dogs, and it can be a challenging habit to stop. However, if your pet is the reason you can't have a nice backyard, you have options.
Dogs dig because of inactivity. All of that pent up energy has to go somewhere, and for a lot of dogs, it can go into excavation and ruination of your carefully maintained lawn. A tired dog has less energy to expend in destructive pursuits. Regularly walking, playing, throwing frisbees, or any physical activity will help to wear your pet out so they can't be bothered exploring the unplumbed depths of your backyard.
Dogs are social creatures and can go a little stir crazy when left alone for long periods. Digging is not a cry for attention, and it's likely not a Shawshank Redemption style escape attempt; it's just a way for your pet to occupy themselves when you're not home. If you are away for extended periods, make sure there is someone at home to keep your dog company. Otherwise, a professional dog walker can help them burn off their excess energy.
You could try to limit the areas where your dog prefers to dig, and some pet owners have success with this method. However, most dogs aren't too fussy about where they start their next tunnelling expedition, so another solution is needed.
You can section off an area of your yard as an allowable dig zone, and train them to only dig in that area. Training will be more straightforward if you create the permitted digging area in their favourite spot.
When you see your dog digging outside of the designated area, immediately interrupt your pet and guide to the 'safe zone.' You can also encourage exploratory digging in this area by ensuring there are treats and toys for your pooch to find. When your pooch does dig in the zone, encourage the behaviour with lots of enthusiastic praise.
Ensure your pet has access to a range of toys to engage them throughout the day. A variety of toys that you swap out every couple of days will prevent boredom.
There are plenty of choices regarding interactive toys that present challenges and puzzles to curious canines. Kongs stuffed with peanut butter are a favourite for many dog owners, but any treat they enjoy will be a prize worth going after.
Dogs will often dig their way out of hot or windy weather, so make sure your furry friend has comfortable shelter they can use.
Dog chewing problems stem from one of three scenarios:
Everything is new to a puppy, and they like nothing better than to explore their new world with all their senses, including sniffing, licking, and chewing. Puppies will chew when teething because their gums are inflamed and sore, and chewing provides relief.
Puppies will chew everything in sight, which can be rather dangerous if they happen to get their jaws around an electric cable. They can also swallow things they shouldn't and create blockages, or even tear their intestine with a sharp piece of plastic. As you can see, there are more reasons to stop a puppy chewing than keeping your slippers or shoes safe from little doggy teeth.
When you notice your puppy chewing something they shouldn't, reprimand them firmly and provide them with an appropriate chew toy. Puppies quickly learn what is and isn't allowed for chewing and carry this trait through adulthood. Like human babies, the best way to keep puppies safe from inappropriate chewing is to never let them out of your sight while they are free roaming.
Dogs that have grown out of the puppy phase but still go to town on your table and chair legs or create a cushion stuffing explosion all over the lounge room when you are away may be stressed or suffering from anxiety separation. Here’s how you can curb your dog’s chewing habit.
If your fur baby is upset and chewing because they are lonely, then try to spend more time with them, or make sure someone is available to keep them company while you're out of town.
Internet-connected cameras are available that will allow you to monitor your dog via your smartphone, wherever you are. If you see them getting agitated, talking to them through your camera's audio feature is often all it takes to reassure and calm them.
Dogs love chewing, but they quickly learn to avoid anything that tastes disgusting. Deterrent sprays made from lemon juice or apple cider vinegar applied to table legs, chairs, cushions, and shoes will save these items from toothy destruction.
Dogs intent on chewing will keep looking for alternative outlets, so you will want to make sure there are appropriate substitutes available like the peanut stuffed Kong mentioned above. Be careful with chew treats like pigs' ears, as these are hard and brittle and can separate into big chunks and create a choking hazard, or intestinal blockages.
Pigs' ears also provide only a small amount of nutrition but are high in calories, so reserve them as a treat to be used in moderation. You don't want to save your table legs only to give your dog a heart condition.
Most bad behaviour in our furry, four-legged friends stems from a lack of things to do, not enough physical activity, and loneliness. Ensure your dog has access to a range of interactive and chew toys, enjoys regular exercise, and gets to spend time with their favourite person. Couple these things with discipline and training, and you will both get along famously. Plus, your slippers will be safe from harm and your furniture will keep its resale value.
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