Chew-A-Holic’s Anonymous

& other eating disorders in dogs

A few of our daycare clients may have noticed that I (Nea) am a bit evangelical about giving dogs stuffed chew toys. This is because of how many dogs I see who can’t seem to stop themselves from eating or chewing things like the floor, rocks, and poop. These behaviours can easily develop into a disorder or obsession if not redirected to something healthier. “Redirection” is a key word here; sure I can scold and give time outs until me and the dogs hate eachother, but I would much rather work together with owners to make sure the dogs are happy and healthy.

Some dogs haven’t realized the joys of chewing and find other, more irritating ways to blow off steam. These dogs may need some help getting into the habit. And yes, some dogs such as pugs may always struggle to chew things because of their particular anatomy. Rest assured, I will discuss some great alternatives to chews in a future article.

Everything is dangerous!

I’ve seen a lot of pros and cons to all sorts of chews. Rawhide, bully sticks, raw bones, smoked bones, branches etc. can all potentially lead to blockages, broken teeth, or other porblems if not handled and eaten propperly. Personally, I know my dog and that he’s a careful chewer; not an inhaler. For this reason I am able to give him a wide assortment of things to chew on. But most dogs aren’t able to eat all of these things safely.

Both for safety and praticality I really love recommending Kongs, but what ever brand works for you and your dog is fine. There are some great recipes out there to try, and you can adjust for your favourite breand pretty easily. Or, just freeze your dog’s meal in a block of iced bone broth!

My dog is on a special diet.

That’s fine! I usually stuff the dog’s chew toys with portions of their daily meal, with just a couple treats, some yogurt or peanut butter at the very bottom to keep them interested to the end. If doggo needs a highly limited diet, just use a bit of water to moisten the kibble before placing in the toy and then freeze: Tadda! Lunch is now a popsicle. In fact, the extra time and effort this feeding style requires of your dog can even help your dog feel full and satisfied for longer.

In conclusion:

There are many benefits of chewing. It is a great enjoyable activity that also reduces stress. A dog is much less likely to do other “problem behaviour” like barking, digging or eating your shoes when they have to work to get their daily meal out of an iceblock.

As one of my many heroes put it:

“The dog is a social and inquisitive animal. He needs to do something, especially if left at home alone. What would you like your dog to do? Crosswords? Needlepoint? Watch soaps on the telly? You must provide some form of occupational therapy for your puppy to pass the day.”

Dr. Ian Dunbar, Errorless Chewtoy Training

Written by Nea Deptuch, Dog Trainer at Tammy’s Training Canine Services

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