Upon finishing a lesson with a recent customer, she showed me a completely chewed up iPod. After hearing the story of how “Kona”, a loving and most energetic dog, had destroyed it, I had to laugh. I’m a rather compassionate man, but seeing an iPod chewed in over 40 pieces was truly amazing.
Dogs chew for two main reasons. First, to satisfy boredom and lack of a job. And second, to satisfy their natural instinct to use jaw muscles and clean their teeth. The first is often the most severe and costly. iPods are about $100. Your Pier One kitchen table is $3000. Below are a few simple tips to ensuring your dog will chew on his doggie bones, and NOT the kitchen table:
- Teach chewing boundaries from puppyhood. Dogs have a natural sensation to chew. Chewing exercises jaw muscles, satisfies boredom, and reduces tarter on teeth. Dogs need to be challenged mentally and physically to remain balanced. So, when you bring a new puppy home, have plenty of sturdy, dog friendly chew toys available. If you catch your puppy chewing the wrong toy (i.e. your hands, couch, or table leg) verbally correct and replace the wrong toy with the right toy.
- Less is More. Puppies will go through their “teething” stage up until about 6-7 months. During this time, it is best to keep their space limited. If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times, “He only chews on the table when I’m not home!” So true. Your dog will naturally stay close to you when you’re home, and become more destructive when you’re away. So, limit his space. I recommend a sturdy metal crate, or a small room like a bathroom or laundry room. Be sure there are ample chew toys with which your dog can keep busy.
- Routinely replenish your chew toys. It’s a good idea to routinely change your dog’s chew toys. I wash soft toys every other week, and replace “hard” bones every 3 weeks. The new smells and texture from a perceived “new” toy, will be much more attractive to chew by your dog. Hard-Nylabones, Kongs filled with cheese or peanut butter, tennis balls, and hard-meat bones are all good chewing toys for your dog. Rawhide is often difficult for dogs to digest naturally, so limit this chewing option.
- Finally – Patience. Every dog’s chewing habits are different. Traditionally, dogs such as German Shepherds, Boxers, English Bull Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden’s will be the most intense chewers. Every dog will have the desire to chew, just supervise consistently and be sure your dog chews on the right toys and not the wrong ones.
So, the next time you’ve misplaced your iPod, don’t blame Fido. By following the above chewing tips, it’s a good chance your REO Speedwagon songs are safe and sound.
Since 2005, Mark Siebel has trained over 6000 satisfied K’9’s and customers alike. The goal has always been to show owners how to properly integrate their dog into the home setting. Consulting on what breed of dog to buy, where to buy/rescue from, preparing your home for your new puppy and health/nutrition are just a few ways DOGGIE STEPS helps its customers.