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Positive Dog Parenting

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

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Power Point Presentation Canine Chewing

Positive Chewing

Pet Behavior Products Q&A

Destructive Chewing

Rawhide Chews

Destructive Chewing Q&A



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Providing Long Lasting Chews


If used incorrectly, rawhide chews can cause intestinal obstruction, and possible death in dogs. However, when used correctly, rawhide chews are a wonderful positive experience for most dogs, at least for those without beef allergies.

Watch Video:  Positive Chew Training

Rawhide chew types

Rawhide chews that can be torn apart are very intriguing to many dogs. There are other types of non-rawhide chews that are safer, but many dogs prefer the rawhides.

The chew must be big enough so that it is impossible to swallow whole, small enough to be easily digested by the dog, and should be given in moderation. Compressed rawhides last longer. If the dog buries the toy, a larger chew can be drilled on one end, a thin metal chain passed through the hole and connected to a post in the yard. If the dog still buries the rawhide chew, it is easy to find!

The key to safely using rawhide chews is careful selection and training on how to use chews.

What to avoid

In one case, a dog was given a dozen of the "pencil shaped" rawhides in one day. This resulted in intestinal obstruction and major surgery to save the dog's life. The smaller "rolled with twisted knots" models tend to allow for the end knot to be easily chewed off and swallowed. In addition to avoiding certain sizes and shapes of rawhides, for safety purposes, also avoid rawhides colored with red dye.

Teaching positive chewing

If possible, introduce rawhide chews (and other desirable chew toys) when the dog is still a puppy. Give rawhides for short periods of time (e.g., 10 minutes), then "trade up." This means request a "sit," and offer a tastier treat so that the dog surrenders the chew voluntarily. Don't allow novice dogs to chew rawhides unsupervised as they may in fact swallow too much at once and get sick. Remove and replace the chew when it is small enough to be swallowed.

The goal behind "Positive Chewing" is that the dog ENJOYS the positive experience of chewing.  This is: 1) Fun for most dogs (pasa tiempo); 2)  Dental and Breath cleaning; 3) An energy outlet; 4) an "anxiety" release 5) satisfying to owner to give dog something enjoyed.

Every dog has a genetic chew tendency from low to high (Labs are "oral" - like something in their mouth - and therefore the highest.).  Therefore, the first step is testing the chew potential by offering a variety of chews and simply observe and document what was chewed and what was rejected.

The next step is to understand the "Chew Spectrum".  Imagine the spectrum from one end (Milk-Bone type biscuit - usually gone in 2 seconds) up to the other end (e.g. Kong Super Strong Nylon built to stand nuclear blast).  In the middle are many shades of ease and desirability.

When the dog chews for a while and then voluntarily leaves the chew alone, he or she can be allowed to have chew access for a longer period of time. If the dog shows no interest in the chew, there are strategies to help the dog who will not chew on approved objects. Read more about positive here.

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