How to manage a chewer

Do you have a furry little mate who thinks every slipper is their new chew toy? You're not alone!

Chewing is a common behaviour in pets, particularly in puppies and kittens. While it can be frustrating, it's important to understand that chewing is a natural instinct for animals and actually has several benefits – it helps keep their teeth clean and healthy, prevents boredom, and relieves stress or anxiety.

But trust us, it's possible to maintain your favourite pair of jandals—and your sanity—while keeping your four-legged friend happy and healthy.

Understanding the behaviour

Cats and dogs chew for various reasons: teething, boredom, or even a bit of anxiety. It’s how they explore the world. For puppies, chewing is almost like a rite of passage – they’re testing out those pearly white teeth. Kitties, on the other hand, might be flexing their hunters' instincts, or they're just plain curious.

So, the first step in addressing destructive chewing behaviour is understanding why your pet is doing it. Observe when and where they tend to chew.

Knowing the 'why' helps us handle the 'what-to-do-about-it,' so let’s start by looking at those chew targets as clues to your pet's needs.

Providing the appropriate toys

Here's a pro tip: invest in pet-approved toys that can withstand rough play. From durable rubber toys for dogs to catnip-filled wonders for cats, there are plenty of options. Choose toys that mimic your pet's preferred chewing behaviour. If they like soft textures, go for plush toys. If they enjoy squeaky toys, get them one that can withstand their bite.

Exercise and mental stimulation

Besides providing suitable toys, direct your pet's energy toward exercise and mental stimulation. Regular walks and playtime not only keep them physically healthy but also enhance their emotional well-being.

Engage them in games like fetch or hide-and-seek, or use puzzle toys that provide mental stimulation and reward them with treats.

Positive reinforcement

One of the best ways to curb inappropriate chewing is through positive reinforcement. Whenever you catch your pet chewing on an inappropriate item, distract them with a more appropriate item, praise them and give them a treat. This will reinforce the behaviour and make them more likely to continue chewing on the right things.

Remember, we're focusing on what they should do, not what they shouldn't.

Puppy-proofing your home

If you have a new puppy, it's crucial to puppy-proof your home. Remove hazards and keep valuable items out of reach, designate off-limits areas until your pup is fully trained, and provide plenty of chew toys to prevent chewing on inappropriate items.

Crate training your dog

Crate training can be a useful tool to help manage destructive chewing. When properly trained, a crate provides a safe space for your dog to retreat when anxious or overwhelmed. A crate or baby gates can also be used to limit access to items you don't want to be chewed while you're away from home.

A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may injure themselves attempting to escape from the crate. If you need help with managing your dog’s behaviour, contact a reputable, reward-based behaviour consultant.

Professional training

Training your pet is a great way to set boundaries and strengthen bonds, but sometimes, we all need help from the pros. Professional trainers and behaviour consultants excel at identifying problems and tailoring solutions to suit your pet's personality.

They can be a great resource if you're dealing with a hard-core chewer or have exhausted all other options.

It’s up to you to help your “chewer”

Keep your pets protected by considering having the right comprehensive pet insurance in place. SPCA Pet Insurance offers three levels of cover to ensure your furry friend is well taken care of.