A dog chewing wood really isn’t all that uncommon. In fact, it happens a lot more often than you might think. Dogs tend to engage in all sorts of inappropriate chewing – if they can put it in their mouth, they’ll probably chew happily for hours if you let them.
But what can you do if your pup starts gnawing on a tree in your backyard or on the wooden legs of your favorite couch? The good news is, there are ways you can stop this type of chewing behavior that are actually pretty easy to put into action. Here’s a look at some of the reasons dogs chew on wood and exhibit other types of destructive chewing behavior – and how you can get them to quit.
Some Dogs Just Like To Chew
To keep your dog from viewing your furniture as some sort of tasty treat, it might help for you to get an understanding of why your pup might want to chew on wood. These are just some of the potential causes of inappropriate chewing.
- You have a puppy who’s teething – Your puppy will seek out the nearest object if they’re teething. It could be a rawhide toy or oa stick he found in the yard. You can find teething treats that will take care of your pup while keeping your trees (and furniture) safe from sharp puppy teeth.
- Your pooch is bored – If you get bored, you probably watch TV or play games on your phone or tablet. When a dog lacks mental stimulation, they might turn to chewing on a table leg or exhibit some other type of destructive chewing – that’s just the way dogs are. You could try giving your pooch a puzzle toy filled with food. That might help keep them occupied for hours at a time.
- Separation anxiety – Does your dog like to follow you around your home like a shadow? Most dogs can’t stand to be alone, because they’re pack animals. If they feel abandoned or lonely, they may take out their frustration by chewing everything in sight. It really doesn’t matter what the object may be. It could be wooden furniture or your favorite shoes. One way to help keep this bad habit in check is to consider enrolling your pooch in a doggy daycare if you can’t be home.1
Why Is Wood Dangerous For Dogs?
Wood can be a very dangerous thing for a dog to chew on. While gnawing on the occasional stick probably won’t be that big of a deal, you have to watch them closely. Pieces of wood, of course, can splinter. If these sharp pieces get lodged in a dog’s mouth or throat, that can lead to an increased risk for choking or injury.2
The problems can get even worse if your dog happens to swallow some wood. That can lead to a potentially severe intestinal blockage that will require a trip to the vet. If your dog starts vomiting or gagging after chewing wood, or starts pawing at their face, take them to your vet immediately.3
If you live in an area with pine trees, you really have to keep a close eye on your dog. The reason is that pine – specifically Norfolk pine (Christmas trees are typically Norfolk pines) – is poisonous to dogs. It’s not necessarily fatal, but it can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. Some wood furniture is also made of Norfolk pine and treated with potentially toxic chemicals.4
How Can I Stop This Type Of Chewing Behavior?
You don’t want your beloved companion to get sick after gnawing on a tree branch or some other piece of wood. But how do you go about stopping them from doing so? Here are a few options you might want to try.
- Get rid of as much wood in your yard as you can. Walk around your yard every day or two and gather all the sticks that you can find. Don’t expect to get each and every piece of wood, but get as much as possible.
- Try giving your pooch a chew toy. Another good way to help change your dog’s chewing behavior is to give them something else to chew on. Every dog loves a chew toy, so have a couple for inside your home, and a couple more for outside. Your dog might not even think about trying to chew wood anymore.
- Give them plenty of playtime. As you learned earlier, if your dog chews on wood and other objects, they may be bored or lonely. Try playing with your pup more often, and take them for a walk every day.
Also, remember that you always want to be positive with your dog – never punish your pup. Negative reinforcement approaches, such as yelling at your pet (some people will even strike their dogs out of frustration), won’t accomplish anything but making them scared to be in your presence.5
A Quick Guide To Finding A Good Chew Toy
You’ll probably need to experiment with a few different chew toys before you find ones your dog loves. Here are some tips that might help speed up the process.
- Make sure it’s not too hard. Try to press down on a chew toy you’re considering before buying it. The toy will need to give a little. If it doesn’t then it might be too hard, and your dog could damage their teeth.
- Make sure it’s not too soft. At the same time, though, the toy can’t be too soft. You don’t want your dog to be able to easily tear up the toy – or worse yet, swallow any of the pieces. Use your best judgment, and you’ll quickly be able to tell if the toy will not be durable enough.
- Get the right size. Take your dog’s size into consideration when looking for a chew toy. You don’t want to get one too small, because it could pose a choking hazard. If it’s too big, your dog might not be able to handle it and will lose interest as a result.6
Use A Homemade Spray To Help Deter Your Dog From Chewing Wood
Another way you might be able to help stop destructive chewing is to use a DIY spray. All you need to do is fill a spray bottle with liquids that taste bad to your dog. They’re completely safe – but they’ll help keep your pup from chewing not just wood, but any other object you want them to stay away from. Here are a few ingredients to try.
- Citrus peels – Most dogs will avoid any sort of citrus, like orange, lime, or lemon. Put 2 cups of peels in boiling water (about 4 cups). Once the water cools, put the water in a spray bottle. Then go outside and spray it on a stick – your dog shouldn’t want anything to do with it.
- Bitter apple – You can find bitter apple spray online, but you could just as easily make it at home. Mix one part white vinegar with two parts apple cider vinegar, and pour into a spray bottle. Shake the mixture well, and it’ll be ready to go. It won’t hurt your dog at all, and it may keep them from chewing things you don’t want them to chew.
- Lemon juice – If you’d rather not go the bitter apple route, you could mix lemon juice with white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar. It will not only keep your dog from chewing, it will also fill your home with a great scent.7
Keep This In Mind
As frustrating as chewing behavior can be, remember that it’s natural for your dog. It’s a way they investigate their surroundings. Reinforce good behavior, like chewing on a toy or something else that’s appropriate, with praise, a treat and plenty of love. That will give your pup a good idea of what they should chew, and what they shouldn’t chew.
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