What is Chewing Everything?
Chewing is a typical behavior of dogs of all ages; dogs can spend many hours chewing bones, an activity that will help maintain jaw strength and keep teeth clean. Dogs enjoy chewing on bones, sticks and other available items. Chewing may occur for fun, stimulation and to help with anxiety. Some dogs will chew items that they are not supposed to chew. While it is important to provide an assortment of chew toys, offering your dog the right items to chew does not guarantee that he won’t chew on things that he shouldn’t. It is important to educate your dog on what is okay to chew and what is not. Your dog may chew on things other than their chew toys due to the following reasons:
- Separation anxiety
- Fabric sucking
- Lack of exercise or mental stimulation
- Stress and frustration
- Nutritional deficiency
- Dental issues
Upon determining the cause of your dog’s chewing everything, you will be able to work on a solution for the behavior.
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Why Chewing Everything Occurs in Dogs
In the case of separation anxiety, dogs will typically only chew or chew with more intensity when they are left alone. Additional symptoms of separation anxiety include whining, pacing and restlessness.
Licking, sucking and chewing at fabrics can occur; it is thought that this could be the result of your dog being weaned earlier than he should have been (before the age of 7-8 weeks). Should your dog display fabric-sucking behavior for long periods of time and it is a struggle to distract him from engaging in it, the behavior may have become compulsive and your dog would benefit from some assistance.
Particularly if you restrict your dog’s calorie intake he may partake in chewing in an effort to locate additional sources of nutrition. Dogs that are doing this will usually chew on objects that are related to food or smell like food.
Lack of Exercise or Mental Stimulation
If your dog is bored as a result of not getting enough physical or mental stimulation, he may seek a way to occupy himself; chewing may be a way of doing so. Stopping the behavior for this reason may be a simple as providing more exercise.
Stress and Frustration
Chewing may be a way for your dog to relieve stress that he is experiencing, perhaps as a result of being crated near an animal he does not get along with. Lack of mental stimulation, jealousy, and misplaced anxiety can also contribute.
A canine who is lacking certain minerals or who has an absorption issue may chew in order to satisfy the deficiency. Your veterinarian can evaluate and correct nutritional problems that may alleviate the chewing problem.
A canine who is experiencing dental problems may chew for relief. Sore gums, mild teeth pain and pediatric teeth coming in may be a cause of chewing.
What to do if your Dog is Chewing Everything
If you notice that your dog is chewing on everything, you will first want to consider whether his chewing is normal. Many dogs, both wild and domestic, of all ages, can spend hours chewing bones which will keep their jaws strong and teeth clean. In some cases, dogs will chew on items that are not appropriate to chew on; for example, shoes. If your dog is chewing on something that he shouldn’t, he will need to learn what is okay to chew on and what is not.
If you determine that your dog’s chewing is outside what is normal, you will want to consider when the chewing occurs and under what conditions in order to help determine the possible cause. Should you suspect that your dog is not getting enough mental or physical stimulation for example, you can try increasing his activity and find ways to keep his mind occupied. If the chewing seems to occur during certain experiences that your dog may find stressful, you can work to avoid your dog being in those situations.
It is a good idea to supervise your dog during all hours that he and you are awake while he learns to be in control of his chewing. When he licks or chews an item he shouldn’t, you can say “uh-oh” and take the item from his mouth, replacing it with something that is okay for him to chew. Then you can respond with praise. Should your dog react aggressively upon an item being taken from his mouth, you might want to look into finding professional help with his behavior with a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist, a board-certified Veterinary Behaviorist or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer.
Prevention of Chewing Everything
Teething will often lead puppies to chew; during their first six months they will typically chew intensely; it is recommended that you give your dog ice cubes, special toys that can be frozen, or wash clothes that are wet as this will help numb the pain he is experiencing. During this time, you can provide gentle guidance on what is okay to chew upon; for example, your puppy can chew on his toys, while he will need to be taught that it is not okay to chew certain items, like your shoes. Make sure to rotate his toys every few days so that they remain interesting to him.
When it comes to chewing due to stress and frustration, you will want to try and avoid putting your dog in situations that have shown to cause him stress that results in chewing. Ensuring that your dog has physical and mental stimulation will help him to avoid chewing due to boredom. This involves taking him on plenty of walks so that he gets exercise, as well as allowing him to enjoy time with other dogs.
You will want to keep items that you don’t want chewed, like your shoes and clothing, in a safe place while your dog learns to chew only items that are meant for him to do so. Don’t allow your dog to chew old shoes or clothes as this may lead to him thinking that it is okay to chew any shoes or clothing items.
Having your dog spend time in a crate while you are not present can be helpful to avoid him chewing things that he is not supposed to, though it is important that he get plenty of physical and mental stimulation when you are home. If you notice that there are times during the day where your dog is more likely to chew, you can provide him a puzzle toy with some treats or food inside. This will keep him occupied.
Chewing deterrents can be sprayed on items that should not be chewed. To start, put a small amount on a piece of tissue or cotton. You can then place this in your dog’s mouth. Once he tastes it, he will likely spit it out. Assuming he does not find the taste to be pleasant, he will avoid the item and (hopefully) others that smell like it.
Cost of Chewing Everything
The cost of your dog chewing everything will depend upon the reason he is doing so and whether you are able to work with him on resolving the behavior. In cases where professional assistance is necessary, the cost will vary based on the severity of your dog’s chewing and where treatment is taking place. If you have a pet with a nutritional deficiency problem, such as a breed that has trouble with absorption of vitamin B12, the cost can average $800.