I’ve been known to put my foot in my mouth. But dogs do it on purpose. So, why do dogs chew their feet? The answer isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Sure, there’s a simple explanation for the behavior. “A dog is essentially trying to scratch the itch,” says Christopher Pachel, DVM, owner of the Animal Behavior Clinic in Portland, Oregon. But finding the cause of foot chewing can be complicated. “It can be multiple different things,” Dr. Pachel says. “This is not one size fits all.”
Because chewing is good for your dog’s mental and physical health, it’s important that you provide them with plenty of safe and appropriate things to chew on. Fail to do so and they’ll come up with their own chew “toys,” which often wind up being your most expensive pair of shoes, the legs of your dining room chairs, the nearest electric cord, or even your arm! None of which are desirable, and several of which are downright unsafe!
Mouthing and chewing in puppies is a completely normal, albeit annoying, thing. They begin doing this from an early age to explore their environment and learn bite inhibition through the feedback of their littermates. Mouthing is also part of normal play behavior for puppies and dogs. When you reach towards your puppy to pet him, that’s very exciting for him. He responds out of excitement by mouthing (chewing) your hand.
2. Puppy proofing. Look around your environment for possible dangers to your inquisitive puppy. Place household cleaners and chemicals out of reach along with potentially toxic plants. Electrical cords should be covered or made inaccessible to prevent chewing on them resulting in electrocution. Remove objects of curiosity that might appeal to your puppy such as shoes and socks, children’s toys and the like. Block access to rooms that have not been puppy proofed and consider crate training your dog for the times when he cannot be supervised.
Boredom, anxiety, frustration, or excess energy may be common triggers. Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety and once left alone at home will resort to chewing half a house apart. If you recognize any of these behavior issues try to address them properly. A dog behaviorist may be necessary for severe cases. However, many times all it takes is taking your dog out more to release the extra energy and help relieve the boredome. This is usally the path towards happier and more relaxed dog.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE VETERINARY ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your pet’s health. Never ignore professional veterinary advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think your pet may have a veterinary emergency, immediately call your veterinarian.
Available everywhere and relatively inexpensive, rawhides can be a good chew option for some dogs. Plenty of dogs chew rawhides without incident. However, some dogs end up with bits of rawhide lodged in their “windpipe” (trachea), causing choking; or big pieces in their stomach, causing a digestive obstruction. If your dog actually chews the rawhide, rather than biting off and gulping large chunks, they’ll likely be OK — they may even get some teeth-cleaning benefits. This is especially true if you pick up a VOHC-approved “dental rawhide.”
Dogs, especially puppies, explore the world with their mouth. She likes to chew because it calms her. But it destroys your stuff. Even worse -- she might eat something like a sock that could block her intestines. Break this habit now. Give her chew toys, and take away things she shouldn't gnaw on. If you catch her chewing something she shouldn’t, say “no,” replace the object with an approved toy, and praise her once she's chewing it.
Some chews and toys can provide additional benefits for your dog; like mental stimulation or help with keeping their teeth clean. However, it's also true that chew toys have the potential to cause problems. Always closely observe your dog the first few times they’re playing with a new chew toy or eating a new type of chew. And, even in the long-term, keep watch and if you’re at all worried about a particular toy, don’t leave your dog alone with it, or just take it away and try another.
CHEW Dog Rescue is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to rescuing abandoned dogs, dogs scheduled for euthanasia due to shelter space limitations, and other dogs who need us. We are always looking to find additional foster homes and acquire funding for veterinary care and other essential elements of dog rescue to allow us to help more dogs in need. CHEW (Canine Health Education and Welfare) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.
Use bad-tasting repellants and sprays. You can keep puppies and adult dogs away from some items by using impersonal correction, preferably where the “environment” does the correcting. For example, spray items with Bitter Apple spray or Boundary dog repellant, or use a Scat Mat at the edge of a countertop, to stop counter surfers. This type of training operates on the same principle as a child touching a hot stove – if something is particularly unpleasant, most likely the child or the dog will make the decision not to repeat that behavior.
The physical causes may need addressed by your vet. Your dog may need a dental cleaning or have a gum issue. The psychological causes may need addressed by a behaviorist if the above remedies do not seem to work. A dog behaviorist may help you learn tecniques to better train your dog and may recommend some medications. Do not try to address behavior issues on your own. For instance, if you tell an anxious dog to stop chewing furniture it may start chewing it’s own paws or chasing its tail instead.
It’s normal for puppies and dogs to chew on objects as they explore the world. Chewing accomplishes a number of things for a dog. For young dogs, it’s a way to relieve pain that might be caused by incoming teeth. For older dogs, it’s nature’s way of keeping jaws strong and teeth clean. Chewing also combats boredom and can relieve mild anxiety or frustration.