We’re going to chat about all things chewing! You all know puppies chew on things, right? They’re teething so chewing soothes their sore jaws and gums, and pups use their mouths to explore the world. Think of toddlers putting everything in their mouths… except that dogs don’t have hands with opposable thumbs, so picking up, feeling and tasting objects are all done with their mouths, too!
What you may not know is that adult dogs chew too.
Recreational chewing isn’t something puppies just “grow out of”. Chewing is normal behaviour for dogs of all ages. It keeps their teeth and jaws in good shape – and it’s fun! Dogs enjoy getting into chew toys the same way we love getting into mystery novels or the next season of Bridgerton.
Of course, what you don’t enjoy is finding your designer handbag or remote control chewed by your dog. But if chewing is inevitable, how do you stop your dog from chewing your stuff?
Simple. Give him his own stuff!
There are so many things you can give your dog which will satisfy his need to chew. They can help keep his teeth clean and jaw strong, lessen boredom, relieve anxiety and if he’s chewing them, it’ll keep him from chewing your couch instead!
Topping our list of fave chew items are specially designed chew toys for dogs.
One such toy is the Stylish Hound Hercules. It is a sturdy rubber toy in a fun shape specially designed to encourage your dog to lick, hold and chew! For those dogs who need a little encouragement to get stuck in, you can fill the hole inside with dry treats or biscuits which fall out as your dog plays, or wet food such as pumpkin, yoghurt or mince which require more licking and chewing to reach. You can also smear sticky foods like peanut butter and cream cheese on the outside for an extra long-lasting treat. The grooves of the Hercules hold the food so that your dog enjoys it by licking and chewing – perfect to keep him entertained and those teeth off your furniture!
All-natural chew items include raw meaty bones and dry edible chews such as lamb ears, bully sticks, roo tails, goat horns, shark cartilage and more!
These long-lasting treats are especially good for situations where your dog is confined or tethered such as at a café because they’re less messy and don’t tend to roll away!
Other chews include dental chews, toy bones, rope toys and tough plush toys. All of these have benefits and risks which you need to assess for your individual dog.
✰ If you have a baby puppy, he should ONLY have access to the things you want him to chew. ✰ Exercise pens, baby gates, crates and dog runs are all handy to keep your puppy safely away from your valuables and dangerous items. (They also help with toilet training!) ✰ Research and provide safe all-natural long lasting chews to your dog. They also double up as mental stimulation!
With only permitted chew items and without access to other distractions, it won’t be long before your pup’s a chew toy-aholic and won’t give your stray socks a second glance, even when he’s earned access to the rest of the house!
Another commonly chewed household item is your dog’s walking gear – lead and harness. One reason is that these carry interesting smells from your walks outside, so they attract your dog’s attention. If you find them chewed, pause, ask yourself why you left them in reach of your dog, then hang them up on a hook or place on a high shelf. By the front door is perfect so you always have them ready for adventure!
This is usually for a simple reason: the chest strap is too loose. If it has not been adjusted properly and hangs loose in front of your dog, he will grab it to investigate. This one’s an easy fix – tighten the chest strap! It should be loose enough to fit 2-3 of your fingers underneath while your dog is wearing it, but no looser. You may notice the chest strap is looser if you have been using your lead attached to the back clip only, as the lead pressure pulling backwards will compensate for any looseness on the chest. If you are using your lead attached to the front clip, make sure you cannot fit more than 2-3 fingers beneath – if you can, you will not get the full no-pull effect of the harness.
The other reason your dog may chew on the No-Pull Harness is because he needs to be taught how it works.
No, you don’t need to draw a diagram explaining the physics of motion to your dog! He simply needs to be introduced to the harness in a pleasant way, like with treats (or a toy if that’s his jam). Place a treat at his nose to hold him still while you place the harness over his head. Once it’s resting on his neck, give him the treat! Do the same as you buckle the belly strap. If the length of the straps needs adjusting, remove the harness and adjust it before placing it back on your dog. You don’t want to be fumbling with it while your dog wriggles around wondering what you’re doing.
Once the harness is on and your lead attached to the front clip, take a step forward. If your dog steps with you, give him a treat! Take a few more steps forward, then change direction, off to one side. Your dog, being attached at his chest, will turn toward you. Reward that moment with a treat! Take a few more steps, then change direction again, and reward your dog for coming with you. Clever, huh?
This prevents him from wondering why he’s suddenly facing you – and finding it disconcerting, which could lead to an attempt to chew on the harness. If you do this for short periods daily (5-10 minutes is enough!), you will find your dog becoming accustomed to walking without pulling. He’ll also be enjoying the walk so much, he definitely won’t be chewing the harness!
words by Ellen Mok