CHEWING & DIGGING

Chewing and digging are normal behaviours of dogs. Dogs chew and dig for a range of reasons, eg to hide bones or toys, as part of the elimination ritual, to relieve aching teeth or improve jaw strength, to find a cool spot to lie, and occasionally because they are feeling anxious. It is almost impossible to stop these behaviours completely, however here are some hints on how to improve chewing and digging behaviour or direct it towards something appropriate.
 

Chewing
 

  • Direct puppies toward appropriate chew toys.

  • Provide a variety of toys and rawhide chews or pig's ears for puppies and adult dogs.

  • Make chew toys attractive by smearing some food, eg peanut butter or Vegemite on them. Play with your dog using the toy.

  • Praise the dog for sniffing, licking or chewing appropriate items.

  • If you catch the dog chewing something inappropriate then correct the dog with a firm, deep voiced "no" and remove the object. Replace with a chew toy and praise the dog for chewing this. Watch carefully for any opportunities to repeat this process.

  • Be consistent! Don't let the dog chew a shoe one day then punish him for chewing a shoe the next.

  • Fence off areas where the dog is doing damage; ensure that valuable objects are placed beyond temptation.

Digging
 

  • Provide a digging pit about the size of a sandpit and teach the dog that it is OK to dig in this place but not anywhere else in the garden.

  • Encourage digging in the 'digging pit' by burying bones, toys, food in it and reward and praise the dog when he uses his pit.

  • 'Booby trap' the garden with air-filled balloons or mouse traps or Snappy Trainers just covered with soil.

  • Correct the dog's behaviour when you catch him in the act. Then take him to his 'digging pit' and give praise and reward, eg liver treats, for digging here.

  • Place fences around inappropriate areas, especially newly tilled soil or freshly planted plants.

  • Place chicken wire over the top of garden beds or just below the soil surface.

  • Provide shelter from the cold and heat, clean bedding and a wading pool in hot climates.
     

If your dog continues this behaviour, make an appointment to see your vet. It is important that a physical cause of this behaviour is ruled out and the vet may discuss with you the possibility of a full behaviour assessment.

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Cooks Hill Veterinary Clinic is a comprehensive and compassionate animal hospital, providing a full range of services. We welcome patients in need of routine medical and surgical care, as well as emergency treatment cases.

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