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by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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Destructive Chewing

Rawhide Chews

Destructive Chewing - Q&A

Veterinary and Boarding Kennel Tip

Fill Kongs of all sizes with canned food. Place a tasty
dog treat stick of inside the kong to create a fuse, and place the Kongs in the freezer. Provide a comfy towel or washable fleece inside the kennel for added comfort.

At Home
Provide non-consumable
chews and a soft cushy pillow in the dog's kennel to keep kenneling comfortable and positive.

The price is right!
Introduce cold carrots chews to help sooth teething discomfort.

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Why do dogs chew?

Chewing is a natural, normal behavior for dogs. Young dogs, similar to babies, explore the world with their mouths. Young dogs also experience the discomfort of teething. Pups begin to loose their baby teeth around four months of age. Adult canine teeth replace the baby teeth over a period of four to six months.

Just like people, some dogs like to have something in their mouths. Some dogs simply like to chew. Chewing is one way dogs release stress. Chewing can be a calming behavior. The problem with chewing is when dogs are not taught what they can and cannot chew. It is a mistake to punish dogs for this natural behavior. Instead, dogs need to be praised and encouraged to chew the right things while prevented from chewing the wrong things.

The dog learns to find the chew and hold it in his or her mouth to earn attention, praise and greetings.

Chewing is a form of physical and mental exercise that strengthens the jawbone by holding the teeth in place.  Dogs can be taught to chew for enjoyment and to relieve boredom or stress. Positive chewing is not only a fun, healthy activity for dogs, it helps reduce dental tartar.

Teach the dog what TO chew and what NOT to chew

It is much easier to teach a dog what TO chew than it is to teach him or her what NOT to chew. Teach positive chewing by making a BIG fuss over the dog  that gives any attention to the right chew. Pretend you are chewing on it to further interest your dog in giving this chew a try. Put something extra tasty like peanut butter on a new chew to get the dog going and give you the opportunity to praise this activity.

Teaching your dog the "get your chew" exercise

Begin the game, "get your chew" by YOU first getting the chew and then getting the dog to take it for just a second. Lavish praise on the dog for THAT second, then ignore the dog when the chew is dropped.  A few minutes later, repeat this exercise. Soon, the dog will learn how to earn your concentrated attention and praise. Eventually, you want to be able to cue the dog, "get your chew" and have the dog search the house for it in delight and anticipation or your greeting. The dog learns to hold the chew in its mouth to earn attention, praise and greetings.  You may also want to combine this exercise by teaching the dog to "sit" with the chew in its mouth when greeting people.

Teaching this polite way to greet people redirects the excitement of greetings and helps prevent unwanted jumping up and mouthing.

What if my dog does not like to chew?

For reluctant chewers, start with a consumable chew such as a Milk-Bone® dog biscuit. Then gradually increase the hardness of the chew toys being careful not to give the puppy a chew that is too hard and could break his or her baby teeth. Select items that allow the dog to succeed in chewing off small pieces of the material, while at the same time being careful not to allow large pieces that could cause intestinal obstruction to be consumed.

Chewing safety

Raw bones should be boiled for safety reasons, and impossible for the dog to swallow such as a "knucklebone" or large beef rib bone. Allow chewing on bones for no more than 10 minutes so the dog can chew on it and exercise his or her teeth, then "trade it" for different type of chew toy.  As the dog learns to chew and stop chewing the bone on its own, then the bone can be left with the dog for longer periods of time. With bones, there is always the possibility of either splintering or swallowing a piece too large, resulting in medical problems. Extremely hard items such as ice cubes, nylabones, and raw bones can result in broken teeth, consult your veterinarian before offering these items to your pet. If you offer rawhides, make sure they are not small enough to swallow.  Allow chewing under supervision, then remove the rawhide and store in a baggie in the freezer. Supervision is the key!

Offer non-consumable, durable brand name chew toys that can be stuffed with food treats such as Kongs, Busy Bodies, and Planet Pet Toys.

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