Dogs and Chewing their Beds
You got your pup an amazing new dog bed and now they are chewing it all up! What to do? The first thing to know is that shredding and chewing are normal and natural dog behaviors especially in puppies. Chewing happens for several reasons. Let’s look at some root causes of chewing so we can keep your pup from destroying their lovely new pet bed.
Safety first! It must be said that if your dog is not just chewing but consuming any part of the bed, please take it away until the issue can be fully resolved for their safety.
The majority of destructive chewing problems are in reality boredom problems. To help your dog want to relax on their bed, make sure their mental and physical stimulation needs are being met each day. Even in people, we can see a link between a healthy active life during the day and quality sleep at night. To get a more relaxed dog you may need more of both kinds of activity during the day.
Meeting physical needs
Make sure your dog is getting adequate quality physical exercise during the day. I recommend getting your dog out for a safe off-lead walk daily. If that is not a possibility due to location or training restraints, try using a long line to give your dog more freedom of movement. Stay out for as long as your dog needs to become fully decompressed. If you are unable to get your pup out, try finding a local dog walker who can help you with this task. Decompression walks are the gold standard for dog walks these days, and adding them into your life with your dog may even help you get a more restful nights sleep.
Meeting mental needs
An often overlooked piece of the boredom problem is mental. Nowadays there are many toys on the market to help us meet this need in our dogs. From well-known Kongs to Omega Balls, you pour the kibble in and they have a puzzle to solve!You can also use objects from around the house to help with the mental piece as well. Take empty paper towel rolls, fill them with kibble or treats then twist the ends. Presto! You have a homemade puzzle toy.As your dog gets better and better at problem solving you can hide them around the house and go on a kibble hunt!
Providing a legal outlet
As we said at the start chewing is natural behavior for all dogs especially young ones. Dogs enjoy and need to work out their large jaw muscles. Making sure your dog has a safe and legal outlet for chewing is important. Each dog will have individual chewing needs and preferences, and remember they may change as they age. I give my big doodle boy raw bones to chew on, although this is not everyone’s cup of tea. You can also try long duration chew items like Benebones or Nylabones. To meet legal destruction needs you may try giving your dog a box with a prize inside and letting them ‘unpack’ or destroy their way into the box to get the treasure inside.
That’s nice but what do you do when you catch them in the act of chewing up their bed. Well I like to use what is called a cheerful interrupter. I make a sound, like an engaging hand clap or I clear my throat. This sound is meant to break their focus on the task at hand and look at me so I can then redirect them to an appropriate toy like the ones I mentioned above. It is important to note the cheerful part of the interruption. Even if you are very very upset that the dog is chewing its bed you must be cheerful when you interrupt. We would never want to intentionally scare or impart fear to a dog.Especially since doing so might increase stress and anxiety.Then you might have inadvertently created even more of a need for the destructive chewing.
Let's talk about stress and anxiety. None of the above recommendations will help with a destructive chewing problem that is rooted in stress or anxiety. If your dog is destroying their bed while you are gone they may be experiencing separation anxiety and you should seek help from a trainer who specializes in that behavior issue. If you try the above ideas and it does not help then your dog may be dealing with some generalized anxieties that will need to be worked with via a trainer or even working with a veterinarian who can prescribe a needed anti-anxiety medication.
A dog who is living a mentally and physically healthy life and has learned to chew on appropriate items should rest their head on the new dog bed easily.
This guest post was written by Celeste Patten the owner of The Clever Canine.
Celeste has worked as a professional dog trainer in Washington State for over the ten years. She is a graduate of the renown Academy for Dog Trainers at the SF SPCA and holds a CPDT-KA. She shares her home with Collie/Poodle cross whom she loves to train and walk with. You can find her blog at The Clever Canine