Pancho Explains: Why Dogs Chew Stuff

Pancho Explains: Why Dogs Chew Stuff


Pancho here. In lieu of your weekly "My Dog Ate My Homework, My Couch, and Half My Closet" support group, may I offer some perspective?

First of all, you should know that this behavior is very normal. I've never met a dog who hasn't destroyed at least one precious item. It's like a rite of passage for us. You know, like how you humans cut your own bangs when you're little. I can't speak for your hair-cutting motivations, but I can let you in on some of the possible reasons why your dog is chewing on your stuff.

  • She's teething. It's not just immaturity that causes puppies to seek and destroy your most cherished pair of shoes—it's often to alleviate the pain of teething. There are 28 baby teeth that have to break through our gums, and then 42 adult teeth. Chewing on stuff stimulates dog's gums, helps the teeth break through, and provides distraction from the pain. I've got two words to help you with this: [teething toys](http://www.akc.org/learn/family-dog/best-toys-for-teething-puppy/).
  • She weaned too early. Some dogs like to lick, suck or chew fabric, which experts think is related to being weaned from their mothers before seven or eight weeks when normal weaning takes place. (And you thought you had mommy issues.)
  • She misses you so bad. Despite what you might think, your dog is not waiting for you to walk out the door so that she can chew a giant hole into your mattress. It's separation anxiety and it goes like this: when you leave, she misses you and wonders when you're coming back, and that stresses her out because it feels like it might be forever, and she goes to your bed to sniff all the wonderful smells of you, but her nerves have her chomping at the bit, and--OOPS!--there is now a canyon in the mattress.
  • She's bored as hell. You're super busy because you are a very important human with a lot of responsibilities. But lately, you haven't been taking your dog on her daily walk, you barely acknowledge when she walks into the room, and you spend hours in the evening staring into the small rectangular glow of your phone. Your dog doesn't want to be bad, but her brain needs some stimulation and if you can't provide it, then your shoe will.
  • She's too smart. Dogs need mental exercise as much as physical exercise. We love to solve puzzles and figure things out. Super smart dogs like yours might need a [mental challenge to solve](http://www.nina-ottosson.com/products/level-1-easy-beginners/). Otherwise, your dog might have to make her own puzzle to figure out, such as which of your chairs tastes the most like you?

My guess is that one of these reasons resonated with you. Trust me, your dog is not trying to make you mad or do something bad out of spite. (Just like you weren't trying to ruin your family pictures when you went after your hair with your mom's craft scissors.) We're dogs. We love humans more than the sweet smell of bacon frying. There's usually a simple solution within reach and someday the Tale of the Chewed Up Mattress will not only be a distant memory, but a story that will totally kill at dinner parties. You're welcome.

Gabby Slome

Gabby Slome

NYC native. Certified canine nutritionist. Equestrian. World traveler. Columbia Business School grad. Healthy eater. Mom to the best mutt in the world, (well according to me), Pancho.

 

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