Training and Care — Tip Of The Week
Excerpt from Our New
Australian Shepherd Lover's Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care
While this problem behavior usually isn’t harmful to people directly, it can be very harmful to the things you own.
Chewing in itself is not actually a bad habit – it’s a natural behavior that serves several purposes for a dog. It helps strengthen their jaws and keeps their teeth clean. Because of that, we’re not looking to try and stop the behavior completely. We just need to teach your dog what she is and isn’t allowed to chew on.
Making sure your dog has lots of chew toys is the best way to avoid losing your own items, like your favorite shoes, to chewing. If you teach your dog the difference between chew toys and objects she’s not allowed to chew, you’ll essentially eliminate this problem.
Nylon bones – I recommend these over chewable bones made of any other materials. In fact, they’re even better than real animal bones as these can splinter and the pieces may get stuck in the dog’s intestinal tract, which can lead to health problems. Nylon bones are excellent because they’re pretty much indestructible even for the toughest chewers. Nylabone is a recognized brand in this area – they sell chew toys in various sizes and some of them are designed with studs to help clean your dog’s teeth.
Kongs – these are great treats for keeping your dog occupied for a while when you’re not around. They’re chewable toys with a hollow centre – you can fill them with food, like peanut butter or ham, and your dog will distract herself trying to get the food out.
Squeaky toys – these toys are handy because they give the dog an outlet for natural hunting behavior. The squeaking noise creates the illusion of attacking a small animal – it may sound a bit brutal, but dogs are natural predators. Remember what we said earlier in the book – treat your dog like a dog, not a person.
Rope toys – these can be good for chewing, but you should make sure you find a sturdy one that your dog can’t tear apart.
Chewy food treats – stuffed toys are not the best choice for chewing, as they can be torn apart and your dog can get sick if she swallows some of the stuffing. Beware of toys with plastic eyes too – these can be a choking hazard. Also, if you have kids, avoid giving your dog soft toys as she might get confused and end up chewing on your kids’ toys.
Another important tip to remember is that you should never give your dog any chew toys that resemble items from around the house. Some owners give their dogs old shoes to chew on – big mistake. Your dog won’t know the difference between shoes she’s allowed to chew on and your good shoes – she’ll just think all shoes are okay to chew on.
Next time: Stopping Chewing Clothing and Furniture
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