Is it okay for dogs to chew wood? Dogs seem to have a thing for wood: whether it’s branches, twigs, or your wooden furniture, so in this article, we explain why (and an important reason why you should stop it!).
Four main reasons why dogs chew on wood:
1. Teething pains
4. Natural behavior
I will cover everything in more detail and show you some of the various ways to stop this behavior.
4 Reasons Your Dog Chews on Wood
There’s a variety of possible reasons your dog is chewing on wood. Whether it’s your wooden table legs, old bits of wood laying around in your yard, even trees or logs. Let’s take a look at why this is happening.
Teething can be very painful and cause quite a lot of discomfort for your dog. The way to relieve some of this pain will be through chewing pretty much everything and anything.
For dogs, wood has an appealing texture to it. It isn’t too soft or too hard and the more they chew it, the chewier it gets!
This texture will prove to be a fantastic pain reliever for your teething puppy. The act of chewing will stimulate and massage their gums to the point they chew on everything in sight.
Teething will likely only affect dogs under the age of 6 months. If your dog isn’t a puppy anymore, keep reading!
Just like us, dogs can become stressed and anxious. There can be different reasons for anxiety in dogs which can range from a lack of exercise, diet issues, household living conditions, the wrong training techniques, or the biggest culprit, being left alone too long and too often.
Separation anxiety is very common amongst dogs and it’s understandable. Most breeds come from living in packs, and it’s natural to always have company, whether this is from other canines or humans. Spending all day and night together is how dogs would have lived for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
If your dog gets left home alone most days, they will seek comfort through chewing. It can be a great pacifier to calm them down and take their mind off the loneliness or anxiousness. What’s more appealing than a nice juicy table leg to settle the nerves?
There are many hours in the day and if you think about it, after our dogs enjoy their daily exercise, there isn’t a whole lot to do!
There may not be anything wrong with your dog, other than just being bored. Dogs will always find a way to entertain themselves if they aren’t sleeping or eating.
You may already have plenty of chew toys, but our dog’s attention span can change fairly quickly. You have to understand that the desire to chew something new is natural, and this is where training will become very important. More on training later!
4) Natural Behavior
The first five words of this article are “dogs love to chew things”. It will always be like this, and sometimes we get caught up so much in explaining WHY they’re chewing, we can forget the fact that they just like to chew stuff!
Your dog may be perfectly happy with their life, they aren’t stressed, never left alone and they aren’t bored… but still, they would love nothing more than to eat your chair leg for dinner.
Chewing for dogs is like checking our phones for us. It’s not always necessary and there may be absolutely no reason for it, but will still do it! It’s become a habit and its deeply ingrained in us. An unfortunately accurate analogy!
Is It Safe For Dogs to Chew on Wood?
Wood seems to be a pretty harmless thing for our dogs to chew on, right?
Well… not always. Let me explain.
Wood is a naturally clean material and we as humans use wood for many different things, we tend to think wood = good. However, we don’t eat it! and your dog shouldn’t either.
The biggest cause for concern for your dog when they chew wood is the likelihood of it splintering into smaller pieces. Edges can be very sharp and if your dog swallows a piece, it can cause serious internal damage that could potentially kill your dog, or at least give you an expensive vet bill.
Let’s take a look at some other issues chewing on wood could cause.
1) Ingesting Toxic Bacteria
Most wood is naturally clean but there can be some nasty bacteria on wood coming from trees or from our yard.
Mold or Fungi are living bacteria that can be found on many different surfaces, and wood is one of them. Fungi usually grows on wood after it’s already dead or has fallen on the ground and lays there for some time. If you live near a forest or trees, your dog is at risk here. Fungi can be toxic to dogs and in the worst cases, can even cause death.
This doesn’t mean to say that all wood will have this type of fungi, but it is possible. Teaching your dog not to chew on random twigs and logs will avoid this issue completely.
2) Dental Issues
There are many types of wood, some wood is soft and some wood is awfully hard. Woods like ebony, oak or walnut can be used for furniture, and they’re all extremely hard. If your dog takes a bite in the wrong part or bites too hard, it could cause some damage and even break a tooth.
Aside from breaking teeth, it can also cause gum damage. If any wood splinters, it could tear and cut their gums.
Any dental issues are very painful for your dog (and expensive for you!).
3) Choking Hazard
Even hardwood can eventually break up into pieces with enough chewing, and if our dog swallows any, it could be a serious choking hazard.
Our dogs won’t hesitate to chew and swallow any bits of wood that break free. Sometimes this may prove too big and could get stuck in their throat. Any choking could be fatal and you’ll need an emergency visit to the vets!
How to Stop Dogs Chewing Wood
Now that we’re aware of the many issues that could be caused by this behavior, it’s time to go over some ways that you can stop your dog from chewing on wood.
First I’ll give some very simple tips you can do right away, then I’ll go over a training method that will ultimately stop your dog chewing on things they aren’t supposed to.
- Clear your yard of twigs and wood. A very simple thing you can do is give your yard a clean up. Remove the wood, twigs or branches so your dog can’t access them.
- Use anti-chew spray. You can buy anti-chew spray which contains ingredients that dogs naturally dislike. Some work better than others so always read the reviews. The good thing is that they’re usually inexpensive. It’s definitely worth a try and you can spray the legs of your wooden furniture. Try opting for a natural anti-chew spray without the use of harsh chemicals.
- Stop throwing sticks in the park. It’s great to play games with our dogs when we walk them but use an actual toy instead. The sooner you stop giving wood to your dog, the better. If you walk in a local forest, bring their favorite toy and swap it for any twig or stick they pick up.
Training Your Dog Not to Chew Wood in 4 Easy Steps
This training involves teaching your dog what they should be chewing, rather than focusing on what they should not be chewing.
It is positive reinforcement-based training, so it works very well. There will be a learning curve and it may take a week or two for your dog to fully understand. Your consistency will be key.
- Stop them in the act. When your dog chews ANYTHING they aren’t allowed to, you must stop them. This can be done with your voice. Raise your voice and with a serious tone say “STOP” or use their name. The point is to startle your dog and gain their attention.
- Inform them it’s wrong. As soon as you get your dog’s attention. Now, in the same way, say “NO” the importance of understanding the word “no” is massive. This is a good way to teach them, and if they already know what “no” means this training will be even easier.
- Distract and replace with their toy. After you gained their attention and told them “no”. You must act calm and fast, distract them and replace what they were chewing with a desirable toy of theirs. Use toys to distract, not treats. Treats are for the next step.
- Praise them if they keep chewing their toy. If your dog successfully maintains their focus on the toy you just gave them for at least 5 seconds. Praise them, make a fuss and even give them a small treat.
How does this work?
This training method works extremely well but it’s a gradual process and your consistency is key.
Every time your dog chews something they shouldn’t, you need to be on their case right away, implementing this quick method. In reality, the whole process takes less than 20 seconds. Do this every single time and your dog will build the link between things you do not want them chewing, and what they should be chewing instead.
Positive reinforcement-based training works the best, and your dog is learning in a healthy way. Training your dog by shouting and punishing them will usually lead to fearfulness and a lot of anxiety, and this will cause you so many more issues than chewing your furniture.
It’s a simple method, and that’s exactly why it works so well. Just try to be consistent.
Use Interesting Puzzle Toys
Puzzle toys or interactive toys are ten times better at keeping your dog entertained over a standard rope toy or rubber ball.
These are toys where you can place a small treat or reward inside of them. Toys like this are a lifesaver and your dog will choose this over a shoe or your wooden furniture ANY day!
The top priority for dogs is food, and when they can smell a tasty treat inside their toy, this will be all they chew until they get the treat.
Here’s a great video on Youtube that may help you out. This video shows the use of interactive/puzzle toys to stop destructive chewing in dogs.
For your convenience, the video will play inside this page.
Other Related Questions:
Here are some other related questions about dogs and puppies chewing items they shouldn’t be.
1) Does lemon juice stop dogs from chewing?
Typically yes. Nearly all dogs dislike citrus so an alternative to buying anti-chew spray can be to mix half a bottle of lemon juice with half a bottle of water and spray on what you don’t want to be chewed. You can do the same with apple cider vinegar. Don’t spray on high-value material, it may discolor it!
2) What is the best dog repellent for lawns?
If you’re trying to deter your dog or other dogs from your lawn, you can use a citrus-based spray or better, use “bitter apple spray”. Many experts claim this to be very effective at keeping unwanted dogs off your lawn.
3) What is Pica in a dog?
Pica is a condition that can also affect dogs just like it affects us. In dogs, it’s where they are compelled to eat something that is not edible. Humans can also have this, and it will require medical assistance to be resolved.
4) How do I stop my puppy from chewing on wood furniture
To stop your puppy from chewing on wood furniture you would follow the basic training mentioned in this article. This involves stopping them in the act, informing them that what they’re doing is wrong, distract them and replace the furniture with their toy, and finally, once they maintain attention on their toy you should praise them for this. Repeat.
Dogs explore the world with their mouths and they can’t communicate the same way we can. If we pay attention to our fluffy friends, their noises, habits and what they’re chewing on, it can tell us something important. Always be attentive.
Understand that chewing is a natural thing for dogs, never punish your dog for chewing or ripping something they aren’t supposed to. They just haven’t been trained yet. Start training, and be patient with your pooch. Remember that positive reinforcement-based training is by far the most efficient way of training.
Thank you for reading,
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