How do I stop my dog from CHEWING??? (Satisfy your dog’s need to chew without making it a bad habit)

Since dogs are natural chewers and explore the world with their mouths a lot. Chewing sometimes alleviates boredom or stress but has many benefits as well:  cleans teeth, exercises their jaw muscles. But what about the problem chewer? How about the puppy that “needs” to chew when he is teething? Let’s explore, quickly, what is SAFE and what is appropriate for your pet…and let’s do it WITHOUT teaching them to chew as a “bad habit”!! (this is CRITICAL!)

BORDOM: Dogs that get a lot of social and mental stimulation tend to chew less than their under-exercised/under stimulated counterparts. So its obvious our dogs need plenty of stimulation in the form of play, conversation, toys, puzzles/games, other dogs, and of course, US! But for times when you are away or your pet needs some chewing fun, here’s some ideas. A KONG with cashew butter in it (we stay away from peanut butter since it has so much sugar, and kibble can add extra calories as well). Yogurt is a favorite of some, but dairy can cause GI distress (gas) and is not always digested well by our dogs, so doing the same with either coconut milk yogurt or another kind of yogurt is great for putting in KONGS.  (“Kong Extreme” to be specific) Puzzles are another way to defeat boredom. Stay tuned for my next blog on this!!!

***Dr. Stanley Coren. “There appears to be no better canine sedative than a bone to gnaw on.”***

Why should you encourage (appropriate) chewing? And how do I keep my pup from becoming a PROBLEM CHEWER???

When working with a small puppy, always have toys like KONG EXTREME and NYLABONE as they can chew ON them but cannot chew them APART. THIS IS THE KEY: When a dog chews on something that they can chew into pieces—they are addicted and want to do it again—so I find the least amount of opportunities for them to do so, and keep a ton of non-plush toys during the teething/chewing period (keep the plush toys somewhere that they can only play with them when you are present so they don’t start chewing on them). Whenever they start to gnaw on something inappropriate I redirect—SQUIRREL!!). LOL…and I replace the offending object with my fun toys with tons of variety, size, and texture–or a bone/chew.  I NEVER use rawhide or pig ears at this early time of training. My favorite chews in the entire WORLD are bullysticks (organic, made with New Zealand or US beef is safe). These are my absolute favorite and last a long time (these are the only ones I trust): Bully Sticks.

My favorite (for the ultra-spoiled dog) is raw bones—and this is a great way to speed along the crate training process, many times. This helps reaffirms the crate is a training tool (and a make-shift “den”), not something for “time out” or punishment. This can turn into a “bone chewing utopia” for your dog!! Plus, the nutritional benefits are out of this world!!! NEVER GIVE COOKED BONES (these can splinter and get stuck in their mouth or GI system)!!! Start slow and increase time gradually with the raw leg bones (my favorite) as they form natural soft calluses on their lips and jowls allowing them to chew without it getting red or raw. Always keep raw bones in the refrigerator or freezer when not in use!!! (in a zip lock bag) If you are lucky you can find a butcher who know exactly what you need and get it from them 🙂

Types of Dog Chews:

Raw, ‘Recreational Bones’

“Your dog’s ancestors and counterparts in the wild have been eating bones forever, and in fact, your pet has a biological requirement for the nutrients found in bone marrow and the bones themselves (we somehow threw this out of the window when we started feeding our dogs commercial food). Dogs also love to chew raw bones for the yummy taste, the mental stimulation and because all that gnawing is great exercise for the muscles of the jaw.

There are two types of raw bones: edible and recreational. Edible raw bones are the hollow, non-weight-bearing bones of birds (typically chicken wings and chicken and turkey necks). They are soft, pliable, do not contain marrow and can be easily crushed in a meat grinder. These bones provide calcium, phosphorus and trace minerals that can be an essential part of your dog’s balanced, raw food diet. Edible bones are chewed and swallowed in their entirety.

Recreational raw bones are most commonly big chunks of beef, elk, venison or bison femurs that naturally contain marrow in the center of the bone. You’ll find raw recreational bones in the freezer section of pet boutiques or the local butcher. While the marrow provides a significant source of calories, these bones don’t supply sufficient dietary minerals for dogs and are for gnawing only, not eating.

When your dog chews on a raw recreational bone, especially a meaty one with cartilage and soft tissue still attached, his teeth get the equivalent of a good brushing and flossing, as there is substantial mechanical abrasion that occurs during the gnawing process. This helps break down tartar and reduces the risk of gum disease.” -Dr. Karen Becker, 9/1/20

Different Bones for Different Types of Chewers/Dog/breeds

Scarfers” — If your dog tends to gulp down every morsel he’s offered, you’ll need to be cautious about any size bone you feed him, because there’s a chance it could end up in his stomach whole. Or he may attempt to swallow it whole and fail, which can be just as disastrous. Go big and you’ll be safe!!! The bigger the bone the better for these guys. Measure the top of the head and estimate that is the size bone to start with 🙂

Aggressive chewers — The only problem you have to watch for here is those who are very aggressive may develop  fractured teeth. These dogs shouldn’t be given really hard bones like antlers. MOST Labradors do well with this high-quality antler that I prefer. Many on the market are not soft enough and spliter.

Big, raw knucklebones, which are much softer than antlers and gentler on the teeth, are also an AWESOME candidate. But “recreational” bones may be the way to go here, with Kong Extreme (for extreme gnawers) and Nylabone as perfect examples.

Be careful of the size of ANY bone your dog is chewing. Once its down to gulf ball size—take it away. You don’t want them swallowing or choking on it.

Soft chewer are ones who just enjoy holding or gently gnawing on a bone, and ELK antlers are a good choice in this situation.

If you have a senior dog or one with sensitive teeth or restorative dental work, it’s a good idea to go with a softer type of bone. But they can still chew on raw bones just fine.

If your dog tends to be overweight or currently has pancreatitis or a sensitive stomach, the high fat marrow in raw bones can cause significant digestive problems. As mentioned above. Start slow. Five minutes a day, then increase each week. But keep in mind, a raw diet will prevent and help reverse pancreatitis!

Some recommendations when feeding bones or “chews”:

“Give your dog a bone to chew after they have had a full meal. Hungry dogs (or dogs rarely offered bones) are more likely to swallow a bone whole or break it apart and swallow large chunks. Once you know your dog safely chews knucklebones, they’re a great meal replacement if you’re instituting intermittent fasting with your dog. The pumpkin-filled, marrow-free bones are an excellent meal replacement if your pooch needs to lose weight.” -Dr. Karen Becker, DVM (Mercola Healthy Pets)

Edible bones (whole or coarsely ground) in the form of a “meaty mix” patty are one of the best, easiest ways to include healthy raw bone into your pet’s diet without raw bones for chewing if you are looking for another alternative and don’t’ have a “chewer.”

Raw, whole bones can make quite a mess as your dog gnaws on them.  I either offer them outdoors, or in the crate with a towel or something down that I can throw in the wash, or a crate tray that I can sanitize.

“In multi-dog households, dogs should be separated before being given any type of chew or bone. This rule applies to casual canine friends and BFFs as well, because delectable bones can bring out resource guarding instincts in even the most easygoing dog. Pick up all bones immediately after each chew session.” – Dr. Karen Becker

***raw bone MYTH:  They do not make your dogs “blood thirsty” or make them kill small critters!!!***

In summation, use the CORRECT, safe chew bone, and use it sparingly, and also use it to replace items you DON’T want chewed (like your leather slippers) when your dog picks them up. Kindly say “no,” and hand them YOUR choice of chew! 🙂 Then PRAISE them when they chew on your choice of chew!!!

The less toys you supply that can be ‘ripped apart’  the better–they are the worst thing to make available for a dog you are teaching not to chew. So this way they learn (if they DO find you slipper) to chew ON it, but not “shed it” apart (like a rawhide—hint, hint). I have a toy box of plush toys for my dogs, but only if they are with me while playing with it (especially when training pups) For alternatives to rawhide, see link about Bully Sticks and safe Antlers above.

2 Comments

  1. I use to buy my labs a product called digesteez which were advertised as being easily digestible. They came in a rolled stick form that looked like raw hide . Well my dogs got to the point they could not be without them wanted one after every meal! They got recalled and have been permanently taken off the market. . I have resorted to just giving them a large dog biscuit to keep them quiet .

    1. There’s so many great, healthy alternatives to “dog biscuits” on the market these days that don’t add all the calories and fat and junk. I love these: https://lifesabundance.com/Category/Products/Dogs/Treats/BullySticks.aspx?realname=20210230&cat=0&hdr=&Ath=False&crt=0&Category=BullySticks_v11(Pet_Base)&Sku=420070

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