Chewing Problems… Don’t Confuse Your Canines!

Julie Articles

“You don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “Warren, my dog keeps chewing my socks!” When I ask the owner what he does when he catches Fido in the act, I usually hear, “I yell ‘No!,’ take the socks away from him, and give him his own sock to play with.”

Here it’s the owner, not the dog, who’s at fault. After all, we can’t expect Fido to differentiate between his sock and other socks. To Fido, a sock is a sock. One minute his owner is reprimanding him for chewing a sock; the next minute he’s encouraging Fido to chew one. It’s enough to make any pet neurotic! That’s why my number one rule when it comes to preventing chewing problems is: Don’t confuse your pet by giving him household items to chew on. Give him items specifically made for him such as rawhide and dog toys.

And here’s another way many owners confuse their pets: You catch your dog chewing on one of your shoes. What’s your reaction? If you’re like most people, you’d say “No!,” take away the shoe, then give Fido a rawhide bone to chew on. By doing this you’re teaching Fido that anytime he wants a piece of rawhide, all he has to do is chew on one of your shoes!

Finally, here’s another common mistake owners make – they assume their one, two, or even three-year-old dog is still teething and hope that Fido will eventually outgrow this behavior. What they don’t realize is that the average dog completes teething by five or six months of age. If Fido is any older, it’s not a teething problem; it’s a chewing problem!

So what’s the best way to deal with chewing problems? We need to teach Fido what and what not to chew on. And here’s how:

Step 1 – Teach Fido What Not To Chew
To stop your pet from chewing on inappropriate items, use one of the products available at pet stores that are made specifically to deter him. Products such as Bitter Apple and Bitter Lime, when used according to their label directions, are non-toxic yet leave an unpleasant taste on any items they’re applied to. Your dog will quickly learn that chewing on his rawhide is much tastier than chewing that bitter-tasting shoe or woodwork on which you’ve applied the product. Because most of these products contain alcohol, which evaporates quickly, you’ll need to reapply them frequently. Occasionally a dog won’t be deterred by the taste of the product you’re using. If this is the case, switch to another brand. Never use products like hot peppers, mustard or Tabasco sauce!

Probably the best solution is a product called Bitter YUCK! – an odorless, water-based, non-sticky and easy to apply spray that will stop animals from chewing or licking on any number of problem areas. You can order Bitter YUCK online on this website

Step 2 – Give Fido Lots Of Chewing Options
Since dogs have a natural need to chew, provide Fido with alternatives that he can chew. Leave out a good supply of rawhide and toys in every room your pet spends time. And a “good supply” doesn’t mean a couple of items. There should be so many bones and toys lying around that you’re literally tripping over them! With access to such an abundance and variety of tasty items within his reach, Fido won’t have the time for — or the interest in — your shoes, or other inappropriate items.

Step 3 – Give Fido Lots Of Exercise
As with many other types of behavioral problems, lack of exercise can be a major cause of chewing. After all, many dogs chew out of boredom. For dogs, chewing is a way to expend some of their energy. It’s soothing and comforting and it helps pass the time in same way that some people drum their fingers on a table or run their fingers through their hair. So it’s crucial to employ exercise as a preventative measure when dealing with a chewing problem. The success of Steps 1 and 2 will be minimal if Fido isn’t receiving sufficient exercise. A dog, just as a child, has a certain amount of energy that must be expended. It’s up to you to gear this into the right direction.

So give your pet a good workout before you leave him alone at home – especially if that’s when he seems to be doing the bulk of his chewing. Whether it’s an extra walk, some doggy aerobics or some puppy push-ups, this exercise period will allow your pet to use up some of his pent-up energy.

The key to correcting your dog’s chewing problem is to apply all three steps simultaneously and consistently. While each step addresses a facet of the chewing problem, using Step 1 will solve the problem. Apply these techniques each and every day until the problem is over and done with.

In some rare instances, a chewing problem may be related to a physiological problem. If you can honestly say that you’ve followed the aforementioned steps precisely and consistently over a sufficient period of time, you should consider having your pet examined by your veterinarian. Tooth and gum problems can occasionally be the cause of excessive chewing. A vitamin or mineral deficiency may also cause a dog to chew (or actually eat) inappropriate items. This is especially true if your pet constantly chews on paper, matches and wood.

The physiological causes of chewing problems, however, are relatively rare. The majority of chewing problems are caused by owners. By modifying your own behavior and following the steps I’ve outlined above, your Chippendale chairs, Gucci shoes and other prized possessions will stay intact.

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