Top causes of excessive chewing in dogs

Dogs chew a lot when they are puppies. While most dogs outgrow this habit, yet some may still indulge in this activity and keep chewing on things after they grow up. Sometimes, a typically well-behaved adult dog may begin to chew objects seemingly out of the blue.

dog chews a pencil

Whatever the scenario, in case of excessive chewing in dogs, the most crucial part of the solution is to find out what is causing this behavior. We already mentioned the most common ones in our article about stopping a dog from chewing on door frames, but those are not close to being all of them.

Here is a list of reasons why dogs chew and what may cause causes of excessive chewing in dogs:

  • Dog tries to escape confinement. Excessive chewing, especially eating on a door frame or objects near an exit, is comm if a dog tries to escape confinement. When you go away, your dog may not like being left in a room. Chewing then may be related to fear or anxiety, but in some cases, the dog may not enjoy confinement in itself.
  • Separation anxiety is among the most common causes for dogs chewing on door frames; and it usually happens pretty severely, leaving bloody stains on door frames. Sound familiar? Your dog is afraid to be left alone and tries to escape confinement. We won’t talk about separation anxiety in much detail here. For now, it is good to understand that your dog is not excessively chewing because he is mad at you. He is doing so because he is afraid to be without you.
    • Signs of separation anxiety include hyper-attachment to one or a few family members. In this case, chewing occurs when the owner (or that specific person) is away. The dog may also be howling, barking, and house-soiling. When the owner comes home, the dog is likely to greet with exaggerated enthusiasm. Additionally, when the owner is home, the dog may follow him from room to room all the time.
    • How to stop separation anxiety in dogs: Separation anxiety is a very complex syndrome, and we recommend you to find professional help. You can read more about separation anxiety here.
  • Fear-related anxiety. Do you notice your dog’s inappropriate behavior is present during fireworks, thunderstorms, or other frightening times? In such cases, your dog is chewing on objects for two main reasons: the dog tries to escape the location, and the chewing itself serves as a soothing activity. Staying close to your dog during these events is the most effective solution.
  • Inadequate amount of exercise. The needs of your dog include: taking long walks, playing time, meeting other dogs and people, seeing cars, and sniffing every corner. These are crucial activities. Remember that dogs are very active animals by nature. If for some reason, a dog does not get enough of these activities, he may indulge more in activities that are available to him — for example, chewing of things.
  • The owner has “trained” the dog to chew. We don’t mean that it happened intentionally. A common scenario is a dog who chews because of boredom or anxiety and is longing for the attention of the owner it never gets enough. Imagine what happens when the owner finds out a destroyed shoe? He, of course, gets mad, shouts at the dog angrily or even worse. Paradoxically, in the eyes of the dog, it is at least some kind of attention and he is likely to chew again, just to get it.
  • Boredom is usually linked to a lack of activities because activities dissipate boredom, while inactivity winds your dog up like a loaded spring, which urges him to chew on items. You have two options to solve it. First, ensure your dog gets enough activities to keep him busy during the day. Second, leave toys to enjoy when you are away. Look here for a list of some exciting activities to do with your dog.
  • Playing and exploring is a common reason why dogs chew. Similarly, like human babies examine things with their mouth, dogs also learn about their environment through chewing and tasting objects. It’s normal behavior for puppies and young dogs, but if it is reinforced, it may continue into adulthood. Provide your dog with an adequate amount of toys to chew. Besides, put undesired items out of your puppy’s reach and never reward, praise, punish, or scold your dog for chewing. Remove the item silently instead.
  • Teething is a natural reason why puppies chew things. It will typically last up to the age of six months. As your puppy’s teeth grow in, it creates an itch and discomfort that is relieved by chewing on things. In this case, you should provide many toys and items that are appropriate for chewing.
  • The dog enjoys chewing. Likely there is some other cause that initiated the chewing, such as fear, boredom, but many dogs find chewing interesting or enjoyable. In such cases, it may take more effort than to remove the initial cause.
  • Chewing provides attention. It may also be beneficial to your dog in some other way. Is your dog getting what he wants because of his activity? For example, do you play with your dog or feed him to stop this behavior? Voila, your dog knows what to do to get your attention. Not to mention, if your dog manages to destroy the door and escape, he is also getting what he wants. Yelling at your dog can also encourage more chewing. Why? Because, if your dog is seeking attention, yelling can provide it.
  • Medical causes may also be the reason why dogs chew excessively. Most commonly, it happens when a disease is causing discomfort, pain, or stress in your dog, which is relieved by chewing. Other health disorder signs may also be present such as increased urination, increased appetite, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and activity changes. If you notice these, visit a veterinarian. Compulsive disorders that are of neurological origin also shouldn’t be ignored.

You should also know that excessive chewing in dogs is often initiated by more than one cause. For example, separation anxiety may become severely exaggerated if the dog did not have enough exercise or if the owner provides attention to the dog only after something is destroyed. If you are not able to find out what is causing your dog’s chewing, seek the help of a professional dog trainer.