How to use chewing to uplevel your dog’s health INSTEAD of letting it wreck your house

Why Do They Do It?

Dogs use their mouths to explore just as we would use our hands. New puppies have the most to learn and are thus more curious. So chewing is more obvious, and often more annoying, in the littles.
“Chewing, for a dog, is like a human opening a door and looking into a room,” said Colin Tennant, the chairman of the U.K. Canine and Feline Behaviour Association. “People are nosy, and so are the dogs. But they investigate with their mouths, because they don’t have hands.”
Dogs also chew to clean their teeth and keep their gums healthy. Puppies will chew more during teething however this is not the primary reason for chewing.
They will also chew just out of boredom.

How To Control the Chewing

You might be thinking, “but why does he chew my favorite sneakers and my kids smelly socks? That’s not helping his teeth and gums!”
The answer is that dogs have taste and odor preferences. Your dog finds the objects that have your odor on them to be the most desirable.
So, keep that in mind when you are training a new puppy to chew a plastic-smelling toy instead of your kid’s smelly socks… It’s an uphill battle.
Here are some ways to build your pup’s chewing intelligence:
  1. Boundaries-keep shoes and socks out of the puppy’s safe space. Eliminate the opportunity to chew the wrong things
  2. Provide plenty of healthy chew options
  3. Reward your puppy when he chooses to chew his chew bone
  4. Correct your puppy in the moment when he reaches to chew something he shouldn’t. Do not reprimand after the fact. Keep your eyes glued to that puppy when he’s not in his crate.
  5. Keep consistent with your expectations, corrections and commands.

The Health Benefits of Chewing

As I said earlier, bones are your dog’s way of brushing his teeth and gums. Chewing bones helps scrape tartar off of teeth and supports healthy gums. (BTW dry kibble does not help clean teeth just in case someone has told you this falsehood)
It’s also a great way for your dog to build muscle. Chewing will strengthen his jaw, neck and back muscles.
Chewing is also beneficial to your dog’s mental health. Dog’s get bored just as we do and a good chew session will keep your pup happily occupied. Self-soothing is another perk of chewing especially if your dog suffers from stress or separation anxiety.

Healthy Chewing Options

It is important to note that if you choose the wrong bone your dog could end up in the emergency room.
As an ER vet I regularly see dogs for gastroenteritis, pancreatitis or intestinal obstruction due to bone ingestion. This most often occurs when dogs are given cooked bones.
Here are some of my favorite safe options:
1-BetterBone-The BetterBone is 100% all natural and is made from sustainably forested wood cellulose fiber (the same fiber you find in yogurt), and certified renewable sugar cane oil. No artificial ingredients, colors, or chemicals. Here is a link thebetterbone Get 20% off with coupon code Drloudon.
2-Raw, size-appropriate bones-It’s almost impossible to offer a bone that’s too big however, it is possible to offer bones that are too small that can put him at risk for broken teeth, choking or intestinal obstruction. Cooked bones should NEVER be given to dogs.
3- Himalayan Yak Chews-  100% natural-Lactose, gluten, corn, soy, wheat, and grain-free. No preservatives or binding agents. Easily digestible. A healthy alternative to rawhide.
4- Moose antlers- Moose antlers offer a balance of softer marrow and a nice chewable outer wall, which is much different when compared to the Whitetail Deer antlers, which are solid and VERY hard.

In A Nutshell

-Recognize the benefits of chewing for your dog
-Set boundaries and use repetition and consistency to train your pup proper chewing etiquette
-Utilize chewing sessions as a way to keep your dog healthy, happy and occupied
-Provide a variety of safe chew options for your dog
-Keep your favorite shoes, socks and furniture out of reach until your dog can be trusted with chewing behavior.