Updated: Jan 16
It’s absolutely natural for puppies and dogs to chew. But like all doggy behaviours, knowing why they do it goes a long way to helping us humans understand where our furry family members are coming from.
This sort of understanding not only deepens our bond with our doggos, but is a good starting place for helping them if a certain behaviour gets out of hand.
So, let’s get to it. Why do dogs love chewing stuff? Here are just five reasons why.
1. It's fun and interesting
Just like human babies, puppies explore the world with their mouths. Different textures, tastes, weights and density can be super fun to experience. And it never gets old. Even as dogs grow up, it’s still a very rewarding pastime. What’s more, if they’ve had this positive experience further reinforced with lots of praise and affection, it’s something they’ll enjoy doing again and again.
2. It helps ease teething pain
Teething toys aren’t just for our human babies. Our fur babies love chewing to ease the pain of their new adult teeth coming through. But while the pressure on their gums can be soothing, it’s worth making sure your pup chomps into the right things. Keeping a good mix of robust, non-toxic chew toys around the house gives them some safe options – and could save a few pairs of slippers and shoes in the process.
3. It's a boredom buster
It’s inevitable that social animals like dogs will get bored if left home alone for hours at a time with no one to see or anything to do. So it makes sense for them to make their own fun and exercise by exploring their surroundings with their mouths – making virtually everything in the house fair game. That’s why most behaviourists recommend not leaving your dog alone for hours at a time without a dog walk, drop-in or play break. But even between visits, it’s worth leaving them with a selection of safe chew toys and enrichment toys filled with healthy treats that will help pass the time.
4. It's good for teeth and gums
When it comes to dental hygiene, dogs don’t overthink it. They know chewing on something hard is good for keeping their jaw strong, gums healthy and teeth clean. It could be anything from a natural rope toy or natural rubber dog bone to dental sticks formulated to also keep your doggy’s breath fresh as a daisy (well, almost).
5. It's comforting
We all have our own rituals for relieving stress and anxiety. Dogs are no different. Chewing can be incredibly comforting for dogs feeling stressed. If they become obsessed with chewing when you’re away, it could also be a sign they’re experiencing separation anxiety. So it’s a good idea to make sure they’ve got their ‘special’ comfort toy to carry around or chew when they need it.
So if your dog loves chewing, now you know why! Just don’t forget to remove damaged chew toys from your dog so they don’t injure themselves on any jagged edges or swallow any bits.
What if chewing becomes destructive?
If chewing becomes obsessive or destructive, you could speak to a dog behaviourist who can give you some support in easing their stress and managing their behaviour in a positive and healthy way.
Positive methods are key, otherwise stress levels will only worsen and have a knock-on effect to your dog's behaviour and psychological wellbeing. But most behaviourists will ask if you've seen a vet first.
Like anything with our furry friends, if you’re worried about any behaviours that seem out of character for your dog, talk to your vet. Our dogs talk to us through body language and behaviour - but signs can be subtle and easily missed. In the case of chewing, constant gnawing could indicate tooth pain or anxiety.
Want to learn more?
The internet is full of advice on dogs and puppies. But not all of it is good advice. So if you're looking for a trusted source of advice, I recommend heading to Sarah Whitehead's website at www.cleverdogcompany.com for FREE advice and fact sheets on puppies and dogs. Sarah's a leading expert in positive-led dog training and behaviour and her methods are proven to work.
If you're looking for non-toxic, eco-friendly chew toys for your doggo, we have a wide range to choose from right here at The Puppy Playground. If you need any help choosing, just give us a shout, yap, bark or howl.
In the meantime, keep being pawsome!
I'm a student of canine psychology & behaviour, a socialisation and training helper at The Puppy Nanny, and experienced dog mum to Indy & Mav (RIP my precious Jewels & Russ).