One of the most common questions I get from new dog owners is, ‘how do I stop my dog from chewing his bed?’
Known as ‘destructive chewing,’ or ‘inappropriate chewing,’ this type of behavior is most frequently present in puppies. It can begin from as early as 3 weeks old when the first deciduous teeth start popping through the gums.
How many teeth do dogs get?
Deciduous teeth are also known as milk teeth or baby teeth. Dogs get 2 sets of teeth, like humans. They get 28 deciduous teeth and 42 permanent teeth, or secondary teeth.
Destructive chewing isn’t a problem exclusive to puppy owners. Older dogs can also show signs of inappropriate chewing which has either carried over from puppyhood or started suddenly as an adult dog.
Why do dogs chew their bed?
Figuring this out is not always be easy. While there are many reasons why a dog chews items inappropriately, some of these reasons are much more common than others. These are the most likely causes of 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 mouths, and that’s because the mouth contains many sensory nerve endings that connect directly to the brain. Really 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 might simply be something that’s normal and your puppy quickly outgrows.
Again, let’s think about human babies. Teething is a very painful experience because it involves teeth cutting through the gums. This is not something that’s particularly pleasant.
Gums can become inflamed, swollen, raw, and sore, and by putting pressure on the gums or chewing objects, the pain is relieved temporarily. It’s the same for puppies. They find relief in chewing, and once again it may not be necessary to delve any 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 into them; it’s instinctive. It’s what they think they should do. In these cases, it may be helpful to introduce chew-appropriate toys.
Pica is a rather strange medical condition common amongst dogs that leads to them to crave and devour 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) reports that Pica often develops in dogs that are not fed a nutritionally balanced diet. If dogs are missing a nutrient in their food that’s vital to their growth and development, they’ll seek it elsewhere.
Always make sure your dog has the nutrients that he needs in his diet.
Dogs can get bored. If they’re not getting out for their walk with you and using up some energy, they can get mischievous. They need some attention.
4 ways to stop dogs from chewing their bed
If you’re sure the cause of destructive chewing isn’t an underlying medical issue, there are several ways that the unwanted behavior can be deterred, both in young puppies and in older dogs.
These are a few suggestions to try out at home.
1. Introduce appropriate chewing toys
If your dog is determined to chew, try introducing some appropriate chew toys and items to the home. Try swapping them out too. By this I mean don’t have them all out at once, put some away, and change them up regularly, (apart from your dog’s favourite), so he has different toys to play with and explore. Encourage your dog to chew on these rather than on his bed or any other inappropriate items.
Apart from 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.
2. Attention diversion
Some dogs will chew because they’re bored. 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 with him. The trick is to try not to let dogs become too bored, or they’ll turn to chewing simply as something to pass the time.
3. Anti-chew sprays
Some dog owners love anti-chew sprays; others hate them. It’s 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 because of the 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’s been shown to affect brain function in adults. That’s not something we want around our dogs.
4. Remember to puppy proof
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’re potentially chewing anything else left on the floor, or within their reach. The target could be cleaning solutions or other chemicals that could prove to be dangerous to their health.
Remember encouraging different behavior in your dog can take time and patience. It isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. It’s going to take a lot of reminding your dog of his appropriate chew toys, training him to do things differently, 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 you’ve got a dog that chews his 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.
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