05 Mar Dogs Aggressive Chewing
Does your dog seem to chew on everything they can get their paws on? While this is perfectly normal behavior for your dog to engage in, damaged property and destroyed toys due to overactive chewing can cause stress to the owner and may be an indicator of other possible underlying issues with the dog.
In this blog, I will be addressing aggressive chewers and providing possible solutions to have your furry friend on their best behavior, while also giving you peace of mind.
Dogs LOVE to chew – this we know! Chewing is a very natural behavior for canines and is essential for their oral health and overall well-being. Dog owners and caretakers should encourage this activity while making sure to direct the chewing behavior towards items that are appropriate for both them and you! A good rule of thumb is that play time with toys should be supervised. If your dog has a tendency to destroy toys, make sure that not only is their time with these items supervised, but that you clean them and stow them away in a safe (pet) inaccessible place until they will be used again instead of leaving them out to be destroyed as soon as you leave the room.
Canines chew for some reasons, some of which are anxiety relief, stimulation to relieve boredom or just pure entertainment! Like humans, their actions communicate how they are feeling, so be observant and take action accordingly!
Possible Cause: Stress/Anxiety
If your dog destructively chews on objects due to anxiety or stress, the best way to combat this is to avoid the situations that cause this stress response all together, if possible. If being exposed to the stressor(s) is inevitable, just make sure you are prepared to provide them with appropriate items to relieve their anxious energy with. This way, you don’t have to constantly replace destroyed property, and it will also remove the possibility of them acting out in an undesired manner that could raise the stress levels for both them and you.
Possible Cause: Boredom
Dogs who are prevented from engaging in mentally or physically stimulating activities, or who are simply craving attention “can resort to biting, shaking, tearing, or chewing nearby objects.” To prevent unwanted destruction, the first step is to remove the opportunity to access these objects without your supervision. The second step is to make sure your dog has a day full of varied and stimulating activities, get creative with it! Food for thought: Take daily walks and outings with your pet, allow them to interact off leash with other dogs and people, and provide them with different enrichment techniques such as olfactory, auditory, food, and social activities. Keep in mind, “it’s ideal for introducing something new or rotating your dog’s chew toys every couple of days so that he [or she] doesn’t get bored with the same old toys.”
Possible Cause: Entertainment
Remember, chewing objects is normal behavior for your furry friend, so make sure to provide opportunities for them to appropriately display this behavior instead of punishing him or her for doing what feels natural to them. Dogs heavily explore the world through smell, so provide enrichment items for them that have different scents. Some olfactory play ideas are to spray perfume on toys, rub grass on toys, hide items that smell like you or like other animals in boxes or scattered around the house for them to find, etc.! Let your dog listen to music (or maybe your favorite podcasts) for auditory stimulation, buy puzzle feeders to utilize in daily meal feedings, or hide treats inside items for both a mentally stimulating and satisfying snack activity.
Below is a list of toys that fellow dog owners have praised for their ability to hold up to heavy chewing from their dogs: (Please keep in mind that these toys are not guaranteed to be suitable to your dog’s specific needs, they are just some suggestions that may be worth exploring to see if they will be an appropriate chew toy for your pet!)
**If you or someone you know has a durable, aggressive chewer toy suggestion that you don’t see on this list, please feel free to contact us with your input!
- Benebone – *Supervised play only. Any of the wishbone shaped toys, especially the bacon flavor is a hit.
- Bowling balls
- Bowling pins
- Busy Buddy Magic Mushroom – This is a puzzle toy. It’s easy to clean and load and has adjustable difficulty levels.
- Chuck-it squeaker balls – Consumers say that even when these stop squeaking, the actual ball still holds up well.
- Gnawsome Squeaker Ball (recommended supervised play time only)
- Himalayan dog chews – It’s been suggested that you microwave these when they become a smaller size to soften them, or just throw them away before your dog tries to swallow them whole for a choking risk.
- Jolly Ball
- Jolly Egg
- Jolly Pet Romp-n-Roll
- JW Pet Bad Cuz Rubber Dog Toy (https://www.amazon.com/JW-Pet-Company-Bad-Medium/dp/B000YKD5QW)
- Kongs – Kong Extreme cone & ball (black ones)
- Lacrosse balls
- A PVC pipe (the type used for plumbing) – Drill holes into the tube so when it is manipulated, treats and kibble fall out. *Be sure to get the screw on end pieces so you can easily add the treats and kibble. These are frequently used in zoos with large animals such as lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!) as enrichment items.
- Tuffy’s soft toys
- Westpaw Design toys – frisbee, hurley bone, jive ball, tux treat toy (which can be difficult to stuff, but you can freeze water in it for added fun), and bumi tugs toy. (https://www.westpaw.com/scoop/guaranteed-tough-dog-toys?gclid=Cj0KCQiAvKzhBRC1ARIsANEXdgw-q2JFo67bRhXnm2amA0OCE3pQwWJdUhE7U1h0CyL5p3E5T6ejGNwaAgJyEALw_wcB)
- Zogoflex Tux (https://www.westpaw.com/dog-toys/dog-toys/zogoflex-dog-toys)
Credit: Robin Laclede