Whether you have a puppy or an adult dog, chewing can become an issue at any stage of life. In order to treat this issue, you must have an understanding on the science behind WHY your dog is chewing.
In this week’s video, I’ll break down the science of your dog or puppy’s chewing and what that really means for how you help reduce unwanted chewing.
0:00 – 1:03 Intro
1:04 – 2:13 Puppies
2:14 – 3:01 Adults
3:02 – 6:05 Chewing Because of Stress
6:06 – 9:13 Chewing as OCD
9:14 – 11:50 – Chewing as Enrichment
11:51 – 15:11 – Chewing for Boredom
Arhant, C., Winkelmann, R., & Troxler, J. (2021). Chewing behaviour in dogs–A survey-based
exploratory study. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 241, 105372.
Brooks, J., & Yamamoto, S. (2021). Dog stick chewing: an overlooked instance of tool
use?. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 3753.
Clarke, N. M. (2009). A survey of urban Canadian animal control practices: the effect of
enforcement and resourcing on the reported dog bite rate (Doctoral dissertation, University of British
Horwitz, D. (1999). Counseling pet owners on puppy socialization and establishing
leadership. VETERINARY MEDICINE-BONNER SPRINGS THEN EDWARDSVILLE-, 94, 149-156.
Melese, P. A. T. R. I. C. K. (1999). How to stop chewing problems in puppies. VETERINARY
MEDICINE-BONNER SPRINGS THEN EDWARDSVILLE-, 94, 157-164.
Seksel, K. (2008). Preventing behavior problems in puppies and kittens. Veterinary Clinics of North
America: Small Animal Practice, 38(5), 971-982.
Telegon, Miguel Ibanez & Delgado, Bernadette Anzola. “Anxiety Disorders in Dogs.” Anxiety Disorders. Aug 1, 2011. DOI 10.5772/23135 https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/17580
Get a FREE Reactive Dog Case Study HERE: https://mailchi.mp/9051891745ab/reactive-dog-case-study
Get Your FREE List of 50 Enrichment Activities HERE: https://mailchi.mp/0df8c883e11e/50-types-of-enrichment-activities
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Disclaimers: Jenna Romano is not a veterinarian. Always consult a veterinarian before giving your dog any food. Use of this information is strictly at your own risk. Jenna Romano will not assume any liability for direct or indirect losses or damages that may result from the use of information contained in this video including but not limited to economic loss, injury, illness or death to you or your dog. This video is not instructional. This video is for entertainment purposes only.
It’s no secret that all dogs mainly Puppies chew they chew on furniture they Chew on clothes they chew on toys and They even chew on you and when your dog Starts chewing it’d be very easy for you To just jump right into correcting the Behavior you say no you punish or you Redirect to a different toy but If you’ve been doing those techniques to Treat your dog’s chewing and you haven’t Been able to solve the problem it’s Probably because you’re not treating the Root cause of your dog’s chewing and so In this video i’m gonna break down the Science behind why dogs chew what They’re actually doing the differences Between puppy chewing and adult chewing And what you can be doing to treat the Chewing moving forward let’s get into it [Music] What’s up guys it’s jenna with dog Liaison where i coach you on how to Enhance your dog’s mental health on this Channel we like to look at scientific Research to inform us on how to train Dogs so if you like taking a nerdier Approach to dog behavior consider Subscribing when puppies are young and They’re with their litter mates it’s Common for them to gnaw on each other by Each other chew on each other and you May even see one litter mate correct the Other litter mate what’s happening in These early stages is the formation of
Something called bite inhibition when Bite inhibition is taking place the Puppy is learning how far they can Really press down their teeth how much They can really gnaw on different Objects different individuals so they May find for example that they can chew Harder on another puppy’s paw versus the Other puppy’s ear or they might find That they can’t necessarily really gnaw Down on mom but they can really chomp Down on a nylobone so they’re learning How to control their bite control their Chewing on different objects and Different contexts that’s called bite Inhibition bite inhibition is a really Important skill that all puppies learn But for the most part of this video i Don’t really want to be talking about Puppies i think they’re an unavoidable Factor we have to confront the fact that Puppies chew and puppies bite on things And that’s one of the reasons you may Have googled this video but i really Want to address why do puppies keep Doing it as they mature further into Adulthood the truth is that chewing an Essential need in dog behavior it is Part of their essential enrichment it is What makes them a dog and if you try to Correct this behavior out wholeheartedly If you try to prevent your dog from Chewing on anything at any time You will see repercussions you will see
Behavioral issues come up now Most guardians recognize this in the Scientific literature there have been Surveys they have asked you know the Common dog guardian hey do you think Your dog should need something to chew On at this point Most people acknowledge that yes we need To give our dog toys we need to give our Dog you know shenanigans to chew on i Don’t think this is any groundbreaking Information however if you are seeing That this chewing is a perpetual problem And that it is causing your dog to chew On things other than toys or if they are Chewing on toys it’s an obsession it’s Something that is unhealthy almost now We need to start examining now we really Need to address what does the science Say About chewing three of the main reasons Why a dog may chew include a they’re Being left alone and they’re Uncomfortable alone B Part of their important enrichment Routine such as a walk has been Cancelled or c there’s been a sudden Change in their routine so for example You’ve had a visitor over to the house There’s been a significant event such as You took your dog to the vet all of These events may lead to seeing your dog Chew more chew more on toys chew more on
Themselves chew more on you this has led To a hypothesis that Dogs are chewing to relieve stress now The reason this came up is because we Saw the correlation we see okay we dogs Are chewing which is correlated to these Otherwise stress inducing events Therefore they must be chewing to Relieve the stress and in the Professional dog training world it has Been greatly hypothesized that we should Encourage chewing and if you are going To take your dog to a stressful Situation or you’re going to change the Routine because you can’t take them for A walk that means that you should Readily provide more opportunities for Them to chew and therefore one could Conclude that chewing is a healthy thing Something to promote it is a good thing However i can’t stress enough how this Is merely a hypothesis within the Professional dog training world the Scientific literature has not Necessarily been able to validate this Wholly and in fact when you look at the Scientific literature the flip side the Flip hypothesis can be equally argued Which is to say that chewing may merely Be a symptom Of stress not a means to relieve stress So for example if you have a headache You may grab your head close your eyes Have a deep sigh these would all be
Symptoms of having a headache but no one Would necessarily say that you grabbing Your head and closing your eyes Inherently relieves the headache it Would just be said that that is an Indicator that a headache is occurring So can be true about chewing you may see That chewing occurs when a dog is Stressed therefore it’s an indication of Stress that doesn’t necessarily mean That it is relieving stress therefore i Think it’s important if i can take my Own professional opinion here i think It’s important that we’re looking at the Individual and we’re seeing is the Chewing helping in a healthy way is it Bringing out a healthier happier dog or Is it just An outlet for exercise is just giving The dog something to do because just Giving the dog something to do like Fidgeting doesn’t inherently mean that Things are being relieved and that it’s Good it just means that energy is being Expressed and then of course we have the Other extreme which is to say that Chewing can be an indication of a bad Thing so we have a good thing it’s Merely a neutral symptom and then we Have an indication that it could be a Bad thing and where this leads is to Something called obsessive-compulsive Disorders now yes dogs can have ocd Behaviors you might also call hear them
Called stereotypies there’s a couple of Different variations they all are subtly Different but here’s the important part In animals obsessive compulsive Disorders have been divided into three Categories conflict behaviors emptiness And stereotypes the diagnostic signals Of stereotyped behaviors in dog may vary A lot And some may be more frequent than Others such as self-mutilation and Excessive grooming so we’re seeing that Chewing especially chewing on themselves Chewing on you know a piece of cloth you May see a dog Always feel like he needs to Chew on this one thing you may indicate That it can be self-soothing perhaps Your intuition is that it is Self-soothing i think that that’s fine i Think if you’re seeing that your dog is Lowering his stress levels he’s not as Dilated in the eyes he’s not pacing Around the house he’s not whimpering Perhaps you’re hearing some stress Whimpering you’re not seeing these Symptoms after he starts chewing and Gnawing on something it can be Indicative that this is self-relieving However the question remains why was That stress there in the first place and Why is it so obsessive why does your dog Feel the need to have to do it like a Compulsion this would be more indication
Of anxiety disorders now i am a Professional dog trainer i work Exclusively with dogs facing anxiety Disorders so dogs that have faced Reactivity aggression separation anxiety Resource guarding other behaviors as a Result of their anxiety and what i can Tell you is that within the library of Dogs that we have worked with at the rp Most of them have had some sort of Compulsive stereotypy type behavior it Is a symptom it is not the Problem it is not a good thing or a bad Thing it’s not something to necessarily Like label and fix it’s not something to Correct it is a symptom of the actual Problem and the problem is that whatever Event your dog is in whether it’s a Generalized anxiety disorder so it’s Every event or it’s a specific event Like going to the vet or having a guest Come over whatever event your dog is in Is stress inducing excessively stress Inducing and it is causing your dog’s Body to initiate the fight plate or Freeze response it is causing your dog To go into panic and this is the actual Problem the fact that your dog is Chewing on something the fact that your Dog has gone to find you know a cloth That you don’t like um or the fact that Your dog is chewing on you even perhaps He’s nibbling at your fingers that is Not the problem to solve the root issue
Which is potentially an obsessive Compulsive disorder is something that we Need to Examine all that said i don’t think we Can jump to the conclusion that a dog is Inherently anxious simply because They’re chewing i think that it’s Definitely a symptom of anxiety and i Definitely think that it’s something to Look for in your dog however to jump to The conclusion that any dog who is Chewing or has a compulsion to chew Necessarily means that they are anxious And are dealing with a disorder I don’t think we can jump to that Conclusion more likely than not your dog Is experiencing a byproduct of something Called the predatory motor pattern the Predatory motor pattern is this really Cool sequence of events hardwired into Your dog’s dna and this gives your dog The ability to find food kill food eat Food and then digest food the cool thing About the predatory motor pattern is That through artificial selection we Have Hypertrophied or made stronger certain Parts of this predatory motor pattern in Certain breeds which is to say that There are certain breeds that are really Strong at parts of the predatory motor Pattern and not as good at other parts It is an unavoidable truth that there Are certain breeds this is just
Unequivocal truth there are certain Breeds that have been selected for their Ability to put their teeth on things and Shake it there have been certain breeds That have been hard wired through Artificial selection to Need to put their teeth into things and Grind and so if they don’t get that Opportunity to express that behavior and Express that innate desire You’re going to get behavioral problems My challenge to you is to examine what Breed your dog is or breeds your dog has Within you and see if this is an Essential enrichment be conscientious of The textures that you are giving your Dog to chew for example something that i See very often is we only give our dog a Nylabone maybe a nylabone and a Rope and we say you know go to town well If your dog is hardwired to chew on Different objects those two things are Not going to be Comparable those two things are not Going to be effective at giving your dog What he needs instead you want to be Thinking about if my dog’s desire is to Chomp on something and and express that Predatory motor pattern What would he be chewing on if he was Out in the wild what would he be Dissecting and consuming and grinding His teeth into if he was out in the wild That is actually what you want to be
Giving your dog the opportunity to chew On more often than not when i see a dog Is having a consistent chewing issue in The home and it’s boredom related it Doesn’t seem to be a symptom of stress Anxiety all of the toys under the sun And your dog is still chewing on this One thing more often than not it’s Because you haven’t traded your dog Something comparable to what they’re Chewing on so for example if your dog is Consistently chewing on your couch It doesn’t make sense to give your dog a Piece of wood why because your couch is Probably made of something soft and it Has a little give Wood would not have that give on the Other hand if your dog is chewing on Your cabinets your wood cabinets and Going to town on that don’t be giving Your dog a fluffy don’t be giving your Dog a stuffed animal you probably Wouldn’t even give most nylabones if Your dog is chewing on your shoes Don’t try to give your dog a ball those Are two things that are not comparable You want to be thinking about what is my Dog asking for what is my dog telling me He needs to chew on that is what you Need to have readily available some People do find that if they let their Dog express a behavior like chewing in Certain contexts then that means that The dog will want to chew on certain
Things in other contexts and Most of the time dogs can contextualize Dogs are contextual learners they figure Out conditions they can say oh i get i Can chew on this in this situation but i Can’t chew on that in that situation Usually they can figure it out and you Don’t even have to be very intentional About what you’re doing on the other Hand If you have feel like you’ve been doing It for a while and your dog’s not Figuring out you’re like This lady’s crazy my dog doesn’t know How to contextualize he’s definitely Thinks that if he can chew on a in this Situation then he can she wouldn’t be in That situation if that’s you then i Propose to you that you’re not causing Enough black and white differences Between those situations perhaps there’s More overlap than you realize and you May be thinking to yourself that these Are two very different situations but When you actually examine it to your dog They look exactly identical for example It’s the same room it occurs in the Exact same room at the exact same time Of day and you’re like they’re different Objects well there’s a lot of Similarities between those two objects So be identifying what is similar and Make sure that you are differentiating Them enough so that your dog is able to
Contextualize because the first question I have when i hear that a doc isn’t Contextualizing something isn’t saying This is true in this situation and this Is true in that situation the first Thing i think of is Why does he think they’re the same what Is the same about this in his Perspective so if you can identify what He thinks is similar make those Different then it starts to become more Black and white more often than not Puppies need more help contextualizing But adults do better at this i would Just say The question is always why the question Is always why does my dog think this if Your dog is telling you something listen To it and merely ask okay i guess i need More information from you because i’m Not seeing what you see if you enjoyed This science explained video on dog Chewing do me a favor hit that like Button to help it in the youtube Algorithm if you enjoy a nerdier Approach consider subscribing hit the Notification bell so you get notified When i drop a new video and i’ll see you Guys in the next week