UT San Diego, Scratch ‘n Sniff. By Linda Michaels, M.A., Del Mar Dog Trainer.
Dogs need “occupational therapy”. So says Dr. Ian Dunbar, DVM, Animal Behaviorist and puppy guru. If you don’t give your dog something to do, your dog will find something to do. Although dogs are genetically hard-wired to chew, some dogs like to chew more than others. You can help encourage your dog to be a happy, busy, life-long chewer who enjoys chewing appropriate items rather than your stuff. Habits develop early and quickly, so start your training on the first day home regardless of your dog’s age.
The Joy of Chewing
Chewing is a natural canine activity that relieves stress and teething pain, and is a great outlet for pent-up energy. Lucky for you, your dog can exhaust herself chewing on a great bone. Favorite chew-toys act as pacifiers. Chewing also helps distract your dog from engaging in other, unwanted, activities.
Chew-toy Management and Training
A. Puppy-proof your home. Remove access to valuable items.
B. Design a Dog Zone using an x-pen and crate, or baby-gated area so you can run errands and sleep.
C. Supervise and redirect your puppy to her own chew toys if she gets off track. Reinforce/praise her for playing with her own chew toys.
D. Provide a Doggie Toy Box and rotate three of four favorite chew items every other day.
E. Use Bitter Apple, a non-toxic taste aversive, for items that cannot be protected.
What to Chew
Safe chewies should be as close to 100% digestible or 100% indestructible as you can find. Provide chew-toys stuffed with high-value foods. You may feed all food from chew- toys, until chew-toy trained. Long-lasting chewables include: bully stix, marrow and soup bones. Newly popular on the chew-scene are the adorable PlanetDog.com tuff chewies (some with mint flavor for fresher breath), Caviar Buffalo Jerky, duck, pork air-dried strips. Choose Made in the USA labels for higher quality control standards.
Linda Michaels, “Dog Psychologist,” MA, and Victoria Stilwell-licensed Del Mar dog trainer and speaker may be reached at 858.259.WOOF (9663) or by email: LindaMichaelsPositively@gmail.com for private obedience instruction and behavioral consultations near Del Mar and the San Diego Coast. Please visit us at DogPsychologistOnCall.com