3. Encourage appropriate chewing. Provide appropriate chew toys for your dog to enjoy. Each dog will have their own personal preference as to what they prefer to chew and play with. Be careful with rawhide and beef bones as determined chewers can whittle them down to smaller pieces that can be swallowed. They can end up becoming lodged in the esophagus or small intestine so supervision is recommended when giving these treats and be sure to take away any small pieces that might be swallowed. Avoid chicken bones since they splinter easily creating sharp fragments that can easily puncture your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. I prefer nylabones, greenies and dental chewsticks since they encourage appropriate chewing while combating dental disease. Dog toys such as balls and kongs may appeal to your dog, just be sure to select a size that is appropriate for your dog. They should be able to pick it up and carry it but it should be of sufficient bulk that it cannot be swallowed. If you buy your dog a kong type toy check, make sure the hole in the toy is not so big that the dog can get his lower jaw stuck in it.I have seen several emergency cases where a dog comes in with a toy stuck in his mouth. Do not give toys that resemble inappropriate items; for example do not give your dog an old shoe to chew on because he will not know the difference between the old chew shoe and a brand new pair.
Dogs who are prevented from engaging in exciting activities sometimes direct biting, shaking, tearing and chewing at nearby objects. Shelter dogs and puppies sometimes grab and shake blankets or bowls in their kennels whenever people walk by because they’d like attention. When they don’t get it, their frustration is expressed through destructive behavior. A dog who sees a squirrel or cat run by and wants to chase but is behind a fence might grab and chew at the gate. A dog watching another dog in a training class might become so excited by the sight of his canine classmate having fun that he grabs and chews his leash. (Agility and Flyball dogs are especially prone to this behavior because they watch other dogs racing around and having a great time, and they want to join in the action.) The best intervention for this problem is to anticipate when frustration might happen and give your dog an appropriate toy for shaking and tearing. In a class situation, carry a tug or stuffed toy for your dog to hold and chew. If your dog is frustrated by animals or objects on the other side of a fence or gate at home, tie a rope toy to something sturdy by the gate or barrier. Provide shelter dogs and puppies with toys and chew bones in their kennels. Whenever possible, teach them to approach the front of their kennels and sit quietly to solicit attention from passersby.
As with the lonely dog, the anxious dog should be confined to his crate for the first two weeks when home alone. Beginning with the third week, leave the dog in his crate with the door open for a period of time not to exceed 20 minutes. If you return home to any signs of destruction, shorten the length of time that you are gone until you arrive at a time span that is successful. From that point on, SLOWLY increase the length of time that you are gone until you have reached your goal. If at any time, you come home to destruction, go backward in time at least two steps and maintain that time frame for at least a week; then proceed with the schedule as planned.
All dogs should be familiar with the “drop it” command, it can literally save a dog’s life by telling him to drop something before he/she ingests it. I have used it several times and have spared my dogs from eating various potentially dangerous objects. Many obedience training instructors teach this command in their classes. You can try to teach it yourself by tossing a toy to your dog. Your dog picks it up and you then say “drop it” while showing your dog a treat. The dog will immediately drop the toy and you will give the treat. Repeat several times. At some point do not give the treat any longer but rather pat him on the head praising him. Then try this command next time your dog is about to chew your favorite furniture. He should promptly stop chewing and come towards your direction. Hand him his favorite toy and praise him lavishly for taking it.
If you find your dog is bloodying his paws or otherwise hurting himself trying to escape the crate, another course of action needs to be taken. For cases of severe separation anxiety, an applied animal behavior or other behavior consultant should be employed. This serious problem will need an individualized behavior modification program and possibly drug therapy to be resolved.
Other animal parts: These may be good or bad depending on the source. When in doubt, ask your vet about the safety of a chew. As a general rule, safer animal part chews include aortas, tendon, gullet, and tripe. Ears are more controversial as they are closer to rawhide as far as digestibility goes (plus, pig ears especially tend to contain a lot of fat). Some animal horns will soften when chewed and fray into small pieces that are digestible, but these should be used with caution.