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If you are beginning to feel like an endangered species surrounded by the chewed up remnants of your previous existence, fear not. First of all you are not alone. There are dog owners like you suffering the same fate and having the same problems getting their otherwise delightful pet to cease and desist from devouring hearth and home. Not only that, but people, experienced dog owner type people, have spent a great deal of time and energy on solving the problem.
Your first step in the direction of rehabilitation is the same as it is with any such process. You need to establish the exact nature of the problem. If your pet is a newly acquired puppy then rampant chewing goes with the territory. It is a natural response to teething. If your pet is past puppy-hood and showing no sign of quitting or, if your mature pet inexplicably begins chewing away at stuff, this is a sign of a more serious problem that needs attention.
Pets of all kinds can be divided into aggressive chewers and non-aggressive chewers. Aggressive chewers annihilate what they chew and sometimes swallow the pieces - often in one sitting. Non-aggressive chewers gnaw, play and mouth toys without actually breaking them. Many theories attempt to pinpoint certain dog breeds as most likely to chew aggressively but, the fact is, it's more personality related than it is breed related.
If your dearly beloved pet is still a puppy you will need to work out which category of chewer he or she is as this is an important fact to take into consideration when shopping from the broad range of dog toys available. If your dog is an aggressive chewer you will need to buy dog toys that are chewy and rubbery as well as super strong and durable. Because aggressive chewers are inclined to bite and then swallow toys that are brittle, they must be literally unbreakable. Some manufacturers actually sell toys with an impressive 100% product replacement if the animal manages to destroy it. Aggressive chewers need their own type of toy made of tough rubber and rawhide. They need to be kept well clear of toys that lesser chewers would be safe with.
Black Kongs are ideal for these enthusiastic chewers, so are toys like the jumbo retriever rolls otherwise known as 'chronic chew toys'. These are wound out of several feet of rawhide compacted into one giant roll. Even the most vociferous of chewing pets can do no better than wear away at the exterior leaving the tightly wound core still intact. Pressed rawhide bone-shaped toys are also good options for the aggressive chewer who must be protected from his or her own capacity to reduce an innocent toy to sharp, dangerous shards that may injure the pet's esophagus when swallowed.
If your mature pet is chewing and she is past teething and puppy-hood then there is a possibility that the chewing may be the symptom of a displaced anxiety. Here's where you will need to play dog psychologist and spend time with your pet to discern what is troubling him or her. Are you spending enough time with your pet? Does he get enough attention? Exercise? Has there been a recent disturbance in the household routine that the pet may be responding to?
Your pet is a barometer for any stress or disruption in the environment. Taking up chewing becomes a comforting action for the disturbed dog. You will need to spend more supervised time with your pet reeducating him or her on the rewarding consequences of desirable behavior. Pets are very much like children in this way; they will do anything to get attention even if it means demolishing the surrounding environment. Don't be slow to enlist the aid of an expert when tackling chronic chewing problems. A fresh and educated viewpoint may save everyone a great deal of frustration.
Burke Jones is a frequent contributor to the Pet Health Depot, an online resource for Dog Medicine and Pet Insurance.
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Pets that need homes
Save-A-Pet helps find homes for animals at the Dothan Animal Shelter and can also provide information on how to be a sponsor, volunteer, donate items, or how to foster animals. Call Save-A-Pet at 334-796-7727 or 334-796-7728. The organization is in ...
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