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Optimeal® Blog

Optimeal® Blog

Dog Chewing on Wood? How To Get Them To Stop

By Bridget Reed /

24
Aug

Have you ever come home to find your puppy gnawing on a table leg or going after the corner of the door? If so, don’t worry. It’s common for dogs to chew on wood and plenty of other things they’re not supposed to. 

Anything from instincts to teething pains can cause your dog to eat wood, but what can you do? In this article, we’ll explain why your dog may be chewing on wood, the potential dangers of this behavior, and what you can do to stop it.

Why Is My Dog Chewing on Wood?

Before we look at the dangers of chewing on wood and potential ways to stop this behavior, let’s answer why your dog is chewing on wood in the first place. 

Unfortunately, there’s no, clear answer to why your dog may be digging into the baseboard or door frame. However, there are several potential reasons why dogs chew on wood and signs you can look for in your dog to try and figure out which one may apply to your furry friend. 

Natural Instinct

The first reason that dogs chew on wood may be slightly unsatisfactory. Dogs are natural chewers with sharp teeth, so it’s in their nature to chew on whatever they can find. 

If you think back to dogs' wolf ancestors, they spent a lot of time in the woods tearing through raw meat and chewing through twigs and wood sticks that stood in their way. It makes sense that their canine ancestors may enjoy doing the same. 

Teething

Another common reason your puppy might be chewing on wood is that they are teething. Teething in dogs, much like humans, can be a painful process. 

For this reason, while your puppy is teething, they will latch onto and chew any object they come across. But wood may be especially attractive because it is a solid material that isn’t too hard, providing relief without hurting them more. 

When your puppy is teething, their baby teeth are being actively replaced by permanent ones. Their gums may become inflamed and bother them, which could explain their gnawing behavior. Puppies also explore the world with their teeth as they come in, so they chew on everything from a wooden lamp to a pair of shoes simply to learn more about their environment. 

Separation Anxiety

One of the most common reasons adult dogs engage in destructive behavior, such as chewing on objects they know they’re not supposed to chew, is separation anxiety. If you notice that your dog primarily exhibits chewing behavior as soon as you leave the house to go to work or the store, separation anxiety may be the culprit. 

You may be able to tell your dog is struggling with separation anxiety if they follow you around the house or excessively cry when you leave. Since dogs are pack animals, it makes sense that they can’t stand alone. 

They also tend to latch onto specific people that they associate with comfort and safety. If you are one of those people to your dog, their separation anxiety might worsen when you leave home. 

Boredom

Chewing can be extremely fun for dogs and an entertaining way to pass the time. If your dog is bored and lacks entertainment, it is more likely they will resort to chewing wood. Like how you might switch on the TV or pick up a book when you’re bored, chewing is a normal hobby for a bored dog. 

If you love to play fetch with your dog and often do so with sticks, then they also likely associate wood with fun and games. They may also develop the habit of seeking wood out to chew on it. 

Is It Dangerous for My Dog To Be Chewing on Wood?

Now that you know a bit more about why your dog may be chewing on wood, you might wonder if it’s dangerous for them. You know how frustrating it can be to come home and find your favorite table covered in bite marks, but is this behavior potentially harmful to your dog?

The answer is yes, in some instances. Wood can be a very dangerous thing for your dog to chew on. If your dog picks up the occasional stick in the park and starts to chew, they will be fine if you supervise them closely. 

However, pieces of wood can easily splinter into small pieces. If sharp splinters get stuck in your dog's mouth, they may begin to choke or experience another kind of painful injury. 

If your dog happens to swallow wood, it can lead to even more severe injuries. Splinters can get lodged in their digestive tract, leading to blockages and infections. 

They can also perforate your dog’s intestine or esophagus. If this happens, your dog may need invasive surgery to remove the wood, which can be stressful and costly. 

If you notice your dog vomiting or gagging after chewing on wood, take them to your vet immediately. It can be difficult to determine if the wood has splintered, so it is always best to get a medical opinion. 

You must also take extra precautions if you live near Norfolk pine trees. Christmas trees are sometimes Norfolk pines, and they are poisonous to dogs. Although chewing on this type of pine will likely not be fatal, it may result in diarrhea and vomiting. 

Also, remember that your wood furniture may be treated or cleaned with toxic chemicals. If your dog is particularly fond of one piece of wood furniture, try to clean it with safe cleaning materials while you are training them to chew on other things.

How Can I Stop My Dog From Eating Wood?

You probably think you must get your dog to stop chewing on wood. But it may seem like a daunting task. Luckily there are several simple home remedies you can try to get your dog to stop chewing on wood once and for all. 

Remove Wood

The most obvious way to stop your dog from their destructive chewing habits is to limit their access to wood. This may look like taking routine walks around your yard to remove all the sticks and twigs. Of course, removing all the wood from their environment will be impossible, but limiting their access will help. 

You can use a chewing deterrent on any remaining wood, such as furniture. The bitter taste of this spray should keep your dog away from your favorite couch or desk.

Increase Playtime

Since dogs are more likely to chew wood when bored, increasing their playtime will engage their mind and tire them out. Try playing with your dog or bringing them to a dog park where they can play with other pups. This will make them less restless at home.

Find an Alternative Chew Toy

Additionally, if you want your dog to stop chewing on the wooden furniture, give them something else to chew on. Dogs love to chew on toys, so try to keep a variety of toys around the house and a few outside that they can easily access and chew on. 

Some chew toys can even be filled with tasty treats like peanut butter, which may help your dog initially transition from wood to toys. Make sure to avoid rawhides and bones like antlers when looking for an alternative chew toy for your dog. 

Use Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Remember to use positive and negative reinforcement to get your dog to adopt any new behavior. This may look like giving them their favorite treat or a few extra cuddles when you notice they are chewing on a chew toy rather than wood.

You can also use firm but calm negative reinforcement if they are chewing on your wooden furniture. Saying “no” in a stern voice will help your dog associate that behavior with your disappointment. 

Remember never to yell at your dog or strike them if they exhibit destructive behavior. Expressing this kind of anger will only make your dog fear you. 

Use a Pet Camera

If you think your dog is chewing because of separation anxiety, you can also invest in a pet camera to monitor them when you are not home. You can issue a vocal command through the pet camera when you notice your dog chewing on something inappropriate. 

Make Them a Safe Space

Finally, you can make your dog a cozy, comfortable space in your home that they can go to when they are anxious. Leaving something that smells like you in this space may help your dog feel more at ease when you leave the house and make them less likely to chew on wood. 

How Can I Find the Right Chew Toy for My Dog?

If you want to try investing in a few chew toys to help your dog move away from chewing on wood, you should keep a few things in mind while shopping. 

Texture

First, it’s important to consider the texture of the chew toy you buy for your dog. You don’t want the toy to be so hard that it doesn’t have any give. 

If a toy is too hard, it may damage your dog's teeth. You also don’t want it to be so soft and plush that your dog will immediately tear it up and destroy it. 

Size

Also, ensure your toy is not so small that your dog may choke on it. Small toys can often present a choking hazard for big dogs. On the other hand, if the toy is so large that your dog cannot play with it, they will quickly lose interest. 

How Can I Make a DIY Deterrent Spray To Keep My Dog Away From Wood?

Another simple way to stop your dog from chewing on wood at home is to make a DIY deterrent spray. To make a deterrent spray, you simply need to fill a spray bottle with liquids safe for dogs to consume but taste and smell bad. 

This is an easy way to keep your pup away from wood and other objects you don’t want them to chew. One way to make a DIY spray is to combine one cup of white vinegar and one cup of apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle. 

This non-toxic spray will not discolor or damage any of your belongings. You can also try boiling citrus peels in water or mixing lemon juice with white vinegar to create sprays that your dogs will not like and will make your home smell great. 

Conclusion

We know it can be frustrating when your dog chews wood. It may result from boredom or separation anxiety, but regardless of the reason, they are ways to stop this destructive behavior. It’s important for your dog’s health to keep them away from wood because it can splinter and cause serious damage. 

Luckily, several easy at-home tips keep your dog happy, healthy, and away from any wood they may be inclined to chew on. 

Sources:

Likelihood and outcome of esophageal perforation secondary to esophageal foreign body in dogs | NIH

No Bones (or Bone Treats) About It: Reasons Not to Give Your Dog Bones | FDA

Comparison of two treatments for preventing dogs eating their own faeces - Wells - 2003 - Veterinary Record | Wiley Online Library

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