Do you come home to find paper and tissue torn up and scattered across the house? This can be incredibly frustrating and seem like an insurmountable obstacle. Why do dogs chew on things like paper, do they get some sort of benefit from this?
Correcting this behavior can be a lot easier than it seems and the reasons behind it can be quite arbitrary. To deal with this behavior it is important to understand why your dog in particular is doing it so that you can set the appropriate boundaries to prevent this in the future. So let us start by taking a look at why.
The Root of the Behavior
Chewing on paper and similarly textured products is very common but can come from a variety of sources. Dogs with high levels of stress or anxiety will often compulsively chew on things as a stress reducing behavior. In a similar vein this can be extremely common in dogs with separation anxiety and will be most commonly seen when the human is away from the home.
In most cases boredom is going to play some degree of a role. They may be chewing on paper simply because they have nothing better to do. If this is the only contributing factor then it can be quite easy to correct.
Dogs in their early years go through a teething process much like humans do. During this time chewing on things helps to relieve the aches and pains of the teething process while also building the jaw strength they will need in later years. Often times the human companion will come home to find something chewed apart and inadvertently teach their dog that this is acceptable and wanted behavior. It happens in the blink of an eye and nearly everyday. If you walk into your home and find something chewed up and you react like it was cute, because it probably was, then you have incidentally taught your dog to chew on the things in your home. Attempting to correct this behavior later can be challenging simply because they will not understand why you are upset as they believe they have just done a good thing.
Even if you have reacted correctly your dog may be acting compulsively. Chewing on things has been an important way to build jaw strength and clean your dogs teeth for thousands of years and it is an important part of some of their usual activity. Try and move some of their chewing behaviors onto a chew toy or safe bone to get these stresses out of your life.
Encouraging the Behavior
Anxiety can be caused by a lot of factors. Changes to their environment like additional and strange people in the home, a new pet or a changing home entirely can cause them to act out. These will likely go away as time goes on and they regain their comfort.
Creating a 'den' for them in an area removed from the high traffic zones in your home should really help to reduce their stress. This does not need to be anything fancy and many people simply use the dog kennel as the place to make it. These dens would typically consist of a dog bed, a blanket they like, and maybe a few toys to entertain themselves. If high volume from traffic or workers outside is common then playing calm music in this area may be important. This calm music will help mask the pings and commotion coming from outside.
Areas like these as well as games and toys are important to reducing your dogs boredom and separation anxiety. It simply gives them a place to be and things to do to occupy their time.
In the same vein they may simply have too much energy. Exercise is important not just physically but mentally as well. Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise each day.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Obviously making as much paper as you can inaccessible to your dog will do wonders. Trainers and behavioral specialists will be able to help you identify what is causing your dog to behave like this and what you can do to correct that behavior in the future. In young dogs this is very common but will likely subside with time while in older dogs is almost certainly behavioral.
Correcting these behaviors is easier then it seems once you have determined the roots cause and set some best practices in your home to correct the behavior in the future. Paper should not be harmful to your dog, so no need to worry about how it will effect their health.
These issues can be easier to correct then it seems and should not be a symptom of anything major. Physically and mentally healthy dogs will not typically continue this behavior after the teething process and should be easy to train out of it. There are anti-chew sprays available, and as annoying as it will be to spray all the paper in your home, often have a quick and marked impact.