Some dogs lick, suck and chew at fabrics. Some experts believe that this behavior results from having been weaned too early (before seven or eight weeks of age). If a dog’s fabric-sucking behavior occurs for lengthy periods of time and it’s difficult to distract him when he attempts to engage in it, it’s possible that the behavior has become compulsive. If you think this might be the case with your dog, please see our article, Finding Professional Behavior Help, for information about finding a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB) or a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) with specialized training and experience in treating compulsive behavior.
Janice M. writes, “My yellow Labrador Retriever pup is about 5 months old. Anytime I try to reward/pet him on the head or scratch behind his ears, he turns his head to chew on my hand. He does this with my husband and our 5-year-old. Our 5-year-old doesn’t like to pet him because of the puppy’s chewing. Why is he doing this? He has plenty of toys and chews in the house and yard.”
The truth is, although some chews are better than others, it’s important to know the potential problems associated with each type of dog chew or toy. Even if you’ve never had an issue, and have friends who say the same, many vets and other dog lovers have seen these problems first-hand. The following breakdown is not meant to scare you. Instead, we hope you will keep these warnings in mind so your dog can enjoy their chewing, and do so safely.
Many dog owners swear by these chews, which can be stuffed into certain interactive toys and provide hours of chewing distraction (though some dogs will polish one off in mere minutes!). Bully sticks may be OK chew treats for your dog, it just depends on how many you give, your dog’s chews-onality, and how sterile the sticks are. Bully sticks contain a lot of calories, so don’t give too many; they can also harbor some pretty nasty bacteria, which is covered in this article in the Canadian Veterinary Journal. And they have been known to cause tooth fractures and digestive upset. (Lastly, in case you didn’t know, bully sticks are just processed bull penises … so you might not want to let your dog chew them on your bed.)
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.
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.
You don’t mention TUFFIES CHEW PROOF beds. I have had mine for more than 4 years now. I have replaced one cover not due to chewing but to digging. Replacement covers are cheap and easy to fit. And they come with a guarantee! My dogs love them and haven’t chewed them at all – because there is nothing they can chew. The beds are waterproof, warm, have a nice wide rim to rest the head on and have very thick duvet-style material in the base. They wash with the hose or with soapy water and dry very quickly since they are waterproof.
Indigestible chews like hard plastic or nylon chews: As a rule, any chew that is indigestible has a high chance of causing a gastrointestinal blockage or indigestion at the very least. Hard plastic or nylon dog chews are often too hard and can damage teeth. In addition, they develop rough edges when chewed that can cause injury. These toys are not digestible and cause GI obstruction or damage if eaten.