Why Do Dogs Chew on Everything?

Updated On: Friday, May 21, 2021 14:59:07 PM America/Los_Angeles

If you live with a dog, you know that they seem to have an irresistible desire to chew anything and everything. These rambunctious chewers have been known to go through plants, shoes, and even pee pads! 

Some puppies eventually grow out of this natural habit as they get older, while others decide to pursue chewing as their favorite pastime. Whichever camp your dog falls into, there are ways to minimize their chewing. In this post, we briefly address why dogs chew as well as share a couple of solutions. 

Photo by Artem Beliaikin

So, why do dogs chew on everything in plain sight? Chewing is an instinct behavior that dogs utilize to familiarize themselves with their environment and the objects in them. But sometimes chewing can become excessive or destructive. If this is the case, it could mean your dog is acting out of boredom or loneliness. Dogs are pack animals. When they’re left alone, they’re also left with insufficient mental stimulation and search for other ways to keep themselves occupied. If you’re away from home for a long time or regularly leave you pup home alone, then chewing can be an expression of separation anxiety. 

What do I do about undesirable chewing habits? You’ll need to provide an appropriate substitute as well as some training. First, try to discern if chewing is just a habit or a behavioral response. If you can remedy any behavioral causes, do so. Next, take note of what your dog prefers to chew. Then, offer toys or treats that address their specific preferences. 

  • Leather: If your dog just can’t resist noshing on your leather boots, they’re likely drawn to the animal qualities of the material. Try giving your pup a long-lasting jerky or chew to keep them occupied as well as satisfy their need to gnaw on some protein. Be sure to select a chew that is appropriate for your dog’s size. 
  • Textured materials: Because dogs “explore” with their mouths, textures can be exciting! If they consistently chew unlikely objects (think kids toys, remote controls, shoelaces but not shoes, pebbles or bark mulch in a pot but not the plant), they might be looking for something fun to munch. If you have a puppy, teething is a common cause for excessive chewing. In these cases, you’ll want to provide toys that offer interesting textures. Treat balls with grooves can be a great option that also rewards appropriate chewing behavior. 
  • Plants or grass: Dogs have been known to chew plants and fresh grass because it encourages digestion. This doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is having digestive issues. Many breeds instinctively graze because they were bred as herders, for instance. Letting your dogs nibble on safe and untreated grass outside the home might be enough to satisfy this urge and prevent them from chewing your house plants. Other times, your dog may be craving fiber. Try offering treats that are high in fiber to see if this curbs their chewing. If your dog uses a real grass dog potty like DoggieLawn, solutions like an anti-dig kit made of netting can help discourage chewing. 

You can also supplement the above solutions and training with a no chew spray to remind your dog where and where not to chew. Be sure to select a non-toxic spray that can be safely used on various household items. Remember, any attempts to resolve excessive and inappropriate chewing should be supported with proper training and plenty of praise!