Birds fly, fish swim, and let’s face it, dogs chew. They do other things too, like dig, bark, shed, etc., but we’ll concentrate on chewing for this article.
Dogs chew for many reasons. When they are puppies, they chew to explore the world around them (much like an infant that puts everything in his mouth). At this stage, it is a way for a young pup to “feel” his way around his world and discover what’s in his environment and how to interact with it.
Chewing can be triggered by teething; the soothing feeling of something in the sensitive mouth with new teeth starting to erupt. While totally appropriate, this is where pups can start to get into trouble in the “human world”. Their propensity to chew to either investigate or to answer a craving will likely lead to chewing whatever is nearby that suits their fancy…even if it is your favorite pair of leather running shoes.
About this age also, dogs are starting to understand how hard they can and should “mouth” or bite things. This is a critical skill that needs to happen to have a safe and well-adjusted dog in our world. At this stage, we don’t want to discourage teeth on skin, but help you pup understand how sensitive our puny human skin is and how hard is too hard when it comes to mouthing (or biting).
As dogs get older, their ravenous drive to chew wanes, but many other reasons for chewing start to emerge. Stress relief, boredom, excitement, separation anxiety, dental problems, and attention getting are some of the reasons an adult dog may chew inappropriately. It is important to recognize the cause of destructive chewing if you want to relieve the problem. The best way to start, however, is to not let the destructive behavior begin in the first place. For this, we go back to puppyhood.
While your pup is in its formative stages and has the biological need to chew, there are several key steps to help ensure he won’t be a destructive chewer when he grows