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Why is my dog chewing everything?

(Q) My dog has recently started chewing our TV remote and a leather chair. Why? She is walked twice a day, and we also practise our obedience and agility training every day too. I have two other dogs, and they have access to toys at all times throughout the day. I’ve tried anti-chew deterrents, increasing her mental stimulation with stuffed Kongs, and playing more games with her, but this doesn’t seem to be having an effect. She didn’t chew when she was a puppy.

(A) Behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith says: Chewing can occur due to a range of factors. Since your dog didn’t chew as a puppy, this rules out a learned habit stemming from normal exploration or puppy teething troubles.

Many owners are surprised to discover their adolescent dog chewing. This is said to be due to a combination of the adult teeth settling in, and the frustrations and changes that occur during this stage of maturation.

Boredom is a factor in many cases of chewing. In this case you should consider whether, despite leaving toys down, your dog is able to access them. In multi-dog households one dog may control the toys and so they don’t have the desired effect.

One important trigger that you should consider is underlying stress. Chewing is a comforting behaviour that many anxious dogs perform in order to calm themselves. They often choose items that smell strongly of their owners. Remotes and mobile phones are covered with oils from our skin and are therefore attractive to many dogs.

It’s important to point out that over-attachment to owners can still occur in a multi-dog household. Separation anxiety is not curtailed by the presence of another dog if the dog craves contact with the owner. Something else in the environment could be worrying your dog, perhaps noises or even people at the door, and she may chew to settle herself down. Using an Adaptil diffuser can create a reassuring atmosphere in the house.

To work out what the problem might be, look at the big picture and see the chewing as just a symptom of another issue. In the meantime, put all remotes away or prevent access to the areas where she chews. Keep a diary of her behaviour as you might begin to see a pattern that wasn’t obvious before.

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