One of the most common questions new dog owners ask me is how to stop dogs from chewing their bed.
Known as ‘destructive chewing’, or ‘inappropriate chewing’, this type of behavior is most frequently present in puppies, and can begin from as early as 3 weeks old when the first deciduous teeth begin popping through the gums. However, destructive chewing isn’t a problem exclusive to puppy owners. Older dogs can also exhibit signs of inappropriate chewing which has either carried over from puppyhood, or started suddenly as an adult dog.
When looking at how to stop dogs from chewing their bed, it’s important to identify why the dog is chewing inappropriately, and implement some measures at home to try and discourage this behavior.
Why do dogs chew their bed?
Figuring this out may not always be easy. While there are many reasons why a dog may chew inappropriately, some of these reasons are much more common than others. Listed here are some of the most likely reasons for chewing.
1. Puppy Exploration
Much like human babies, puppies are curious about the world around them and like to explore. Babies are often seen putting toys in their mouth, and that’s because the mouth contains many sensory nerve endings that connect directly to the brain. Essentially, by putting something in the mouth, babies can discover more about that object. It’s exactly the same for puppies. In terms of puppy exploration, it may not be necessary to focus on how to stop dogs from chewing their bed. It may simply be something that your puppy quickly grows out of.
Again, let’s think about human babies. Teething is a very painful experience, and it involves teeth literally breaking through the gum – not something that’s particularly pleasant. Gums can become inflamed, swollen, raw, and sore, and putting pressure on the gums or chewing objects temporarily relieves the pain. It’s the same for puppies. They find relief in chewing, and once again it may not be necessary to delve deeper into looking at how to stop dogs from chewing their bed – it should happen naturally as the last of the deciduous teeth come through.
Dogs are natural hunters, and they instinctively want to hunt, gather food, and look after and protect their family. Of course, at home there’s very little available for a dog to hunt, so they use a bit of imagination. That shoe there? That’s a rabbit that he’s going to bring home to his loyal family. That brand new dog bed? That’s a bird your dog has just captured.
Dogs do this because it’s built in to them – it’s what they think they should do. In these cases, it may be beneficial to look into how to stop dogs from chewing their beds, perhaps by introducing chew-appropriate toys.
Pica is a rather strange medical condition common amongst dogs that leads to them craving and devouring non-food items around the home, including shoes, beds, towels, soil, and some dogs have even tried to eat stones. The American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) states that Pica often develops in dogs who are not being fed a nutritionally balanced diet. If dogs are missing a nutrient in their food that is vital to their growth and development, they’ll seek it elsewhere.
Always ensure your dog is being fed what he needs.
How to stop dogs from chewing their bed?
If a dog owner determines that the cause of destructive chewing isn’t caused by underlying medical issues, there are a number of ways that the behavior can be deterred at home, both in young puppies and in older dogs.
Here are a few suggestions to try out at home.
Appropriate chewing toys
If your dog is determined to chew, try introducing some appropriate chew toys and items to the home. Encourage your dog to chew on these rather than on his bed or any other inappropriate item. Along with chew toys, dental chew sticks work well, and, if you’re comfortable giving your dog bones, these can also be beneficial. Just remember to remove any pieces of bone that could be small enough to swallow, and stay away from bones that splinter easily, such as chicken bones.
Some dogs will often chew if they’re bored, and this is one of the most common reasons for sudden destructive chewing behavior in older dogs. Try diverting your dog’s attention by introducing new appropriate chew toys, or take his mind off chewing by going for a walk or playing games. The trick is to try not to let dogs become too bored, or they’ll turn to chewing simply as something to pass time.
Some dog owners love anti-chew sprays, others hate them. It’s really a matter of personal choice. The concept of anti-chew sprays is that they taste bad and repel dogs, and eventually the dog will no longer attempt to chew their bed, fearing a poor taste. Anti-chew sprays can be very beneficial, but always take care to check the ingredients before buying. Those with bittering agents are typically very safe to use around dogs, but watch out for aluminium sulphate. While small quantities are believed to be harmless, the risks are not fully understood, and it has been shown to affect brain function in adults. That’s not something we want around our dogs.
Remember to puppy proof
It’s important to remember that encouraging different behaviors in your dog isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of reminding your dog of his appropriate chew toys, and yes, there’s going to be a few accidents along the way!
It’s normal, and it pays to be prepared for mishaps. If your dog is chewing inappropriately, remember to puppy-proof your home (even if you’ve got an older dog). If dogs are chewing their beds, then they may also chew anything else left on the floor, such as cleaning solutions or other chemicals that could prove to be detrimental to their health.
For dog owners looking at how to stop dogs from chewing their bed, the good news is it’s not impossible. But while you’re figuring out the best methods for you and your dog, take precautions and keep your pup safe.