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You arrive home and see that the once sturdy woodwork are now down to the size of toothpicks.
What happened? Do you have termites?
Your sweet golden retriever puppy couldn’t have created such destruction, could he?
Unfortunately, he could–and did.
Now the question is how do you stop your dog from chewing on woodwork especially the baseboards and furniture?
There are many reasons why dogs are attracted to chewing on wood. And both puppies and dogs do so.
We can all relate to our puppies getting into trouble. Those little needle teeth need something to chew on.
This article will explore them and how to stop the destruction of your home.
Is Chewing on Wood Normal?
Dogs explore the world with their mouths. Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs. So chewing on wood can be normal canine behavior.
Many retrievers have a need to constantly have something in their mouths.
But it’s important to discover why your dog’s chewing on it to help stop this unwanted behavior.
Why Does a Dog Chew on Wood?
There are many reasons why dogs chew on wood, ranging from boredom to medical reasons.
The following are some of the main reasons.
Your pup may be bored when he’s alone. So he seeks out something to do. Unfortunately, your woodwork and wooden chair legs are calling his name.
To your puppy, it’s fun to chew on the wood.
Young puppies have sore gums when teething. Chewing helps soothe the pain.
If nothing else is available that the pup likes, he’ll get creative and chew wood.
If chewing on wood isn’t discouraged or another solution isn’t found, your dog may have just developed a habit of chewing on wood.
Just like any other habit, it can be difficult to break.
If a dog isn’t given a sufficient amount of food or the proper nutrients, he may seek them out elsewhere–including dining on wooden baseboards or table or chair legs.
Some dogs may chew wood when exploring their environment. They want to discover what it tastes and feels like.
Anxiety or Stress
Some dogs try to relieve anxiety or stress by chewing on whatever’s available. If nothing else is available or alluring to the pup, he may chew on wood.
Some dogs with separation anxiety are likely to do this.
Even adult dogs with some type of dental problems may try to relieve pain by chewing on something.
The dog may have a loose or broken tooth, swollen gums, or other dental problem.
So he may chew on wood if nothing else is available or interesting to him.
A Lack of Other Chew Items
Puppies need safe chew items. They may be teething or need something to occupy them. If they don’t have them, they’ll chew on what’s available–including your wood baseboards or furniture.
Even adult dogs need something safe to do. If they don’t have it, they may also chew on items we don’t want them to–like our baseboards or furniture.
Playing With a Dog With Sticks
If you play fetch with your dog with sticks, he might think that wood is a toy. And he won’t necessarily differentiate between your baseboards or furniture.
Some dogs have a medical condition that compels them to ingest non-food items such as wood or rocks.
Pica can be caused by poor nutrition or an intestinal parasite.
Lack of Exercise
If a dog has too much excess energy, he’s more likely to engage in unwanted behaviors.
This can include chewing on wood.
Lack of Training
Some dogs don’t know what the rules are because they haven’t been trained that chewing on certain items–like wood–isn’t allowed.
So you can work on training commands like “leave it” to not chew on wood.
How To Stop Dogs from Chewing on Wood
There are many things that you can try to stop your dog from chewing on your baseboards and other wood.
It’s good to first determine why your dog’s doing so. When you do, it can help determine what you’ll do to solve the problem.
No Out-of-Sight Freedom
When dogs are given too much freedom too soon, they often engage in destructive behavior. This is especially true of puppies, as they have a need to chew when teething.
So, until you’ve trained your dog not to chew on wood, keep him in the same room with you. Then you can see what he’s doing and correct it at the time.
Gates and other blocks can be used so that the pup can’t roam.
I worked with a family with a labrador retriever puppy who was chewing on the legs of their dining room table.
They let him roam into the dining room where they couldn’t see him. That’s when he got into trouble.
After they stopped letting him out of their sight, the problem stopped. And they also had toys to redirect him when he tried to chew on other items such as the television remote.
Confining the Dog
If you’re not there to watch your pup, it’s best to use some method of confinement so that he can’t chew unwanted items.
Barriers to the Wood
You can put up gates or other barriers between the dog and the wood trim. But you’d have to make sure that he can’t reach other objects you don’t want him to chew.
Using Anti-Chew Aids
Some chew deterrents can stop dogs from chewing on items. Bitter Apple has been around a long time and, for some dogs, is very effective.
The problem is that you’d have to spray all the possible areas your pup would chew, which would be very expensive. Also, the product evaporates and needs to then be re-applied.
Some people use hot pepper sauce on woodwork or other similar products. But, like any other chew deterrent, the dog may just go chew an area whether it hasn’t been applied.
Also, some dogs aren’t deterred by such products.
If you use such a product in any area, first test it on an inconspicuous spot to determine whether it will damage such surface.
When you’re present and you see your dog looking at the wood or going towards it, redirect him to a desired activity.
Throw a favorite toy and have him retrieve it. Or call him to you and reward him with an item to chew for coming to you.
Praise him for performing the desired behavior of retrieving or coming to you.
Providing Chew Toys and Puzzles
When you leave your dog alone, it’s important that he has enough desirable items to occupy himself.
If he has other things that he likes to focus on, he’ll be less likely to chew on things that he shouldn’t.
As an obedience instructor, I believe that all dogs should be trained. It helps us bond with them as well as teaches them what behaviors are desired and what they shouldn’t do. And it exercises his mind.
A very helpful command that you can teach your pup is to leave something. He has to learn that when you tell him to “leave it,” that means he cannot have it.
Part of training your dog is also rewarding good behavior. So, when your dog is engaging in a desired behavior, like sit, praise and reward.
Dogs will repeat behaviors that are rewarded.
Exercise Your Dog
Providing a sufficient amount of physical exercise to your dog is crucial to his physical and mental well-being.
What type and how much exercise you give your dog will depend on his age, physical health, and breed or mix.
Of course, if you have a labrador retriever, he’ll need a lot more exercise than a Pekingese will.
Give Your Dog Enough Attention
Some dogs engage in undesirable behaviors to get attention. Even negative attention is attention.
Make sure that you give your dog enough positive attention through play and training. Even just hanging out with him sometimes is important.
If your dog loves petting, call him over and pet him. The more positive interactions we have with our dogs, the better our bond will be. And their behavior will be better.
Consult With a Veterinarian
If you’ve tried the other methods listed above with no success, it’s time to consult with your veterinarian.
You want to determine whether your dog has anything physically wrong, like pica or other problems.
Pick Up Wood in Your Yard
It’s important that your dog doesn’t think that wood is a toy. Many dogs love to chew on sticks in the yard.
And some owners play fetch with those sticks. The problem then is that the pup thinks that it’s alright to chew on and play with wood.
So I recommend that, as much as possible, pick up and dispose of loose sticks in your yard.
Also, block access to any wood pile.
Why Chewing Wood Is Dangerous
Chewing wood can be very dangerous to your dog. And he may even swallow it, causing further problems.
Can Cause Infection
Small wood splinters can get into your dog’s gums or between his teeth, causing infection.
Larger wood pieces can potentially cause digestive blockages or perforated intestines or of the stomach lining.
Some wood may be treated with dyes and chemicals that can be toxic to dogs. Also, the paint on some wood may be toxic.
If a dog tries to swallow a piece of wood, he may choke.
Damage to Teeth and Gums
Chewing on wood pieces can cause broken teeth as well as damage his gums
What NOT To Do If Your Dog Chews On Wood
Harsh punishments shouldn’t be used. They can ruin your bond with your dog and make him distrust you.
They can even lead to more unwanted behaviors, including aggression.
Don’t Use Noise Deterrents
Some people try to use various noise aversives to correct unwanted behavior. They may use items that detect motion and beep when the dog approaches the wood baseboards.
Or they may shake a can filled with pennies to teach the dog not to chew on wood.
A problem that can occur with noise deterrents is that a dog may become overly sensitive to sounds. And that problem will usually be much more difficult to correct than chewing on wood is.
Don’t Use Physical Punishment
I don’t recommend any harsh punishment to cure your dog from chewing on wood. Or to correct any unwanted behaviors.
Even grabbing him by the collar can have repercussions later. He may become hand shy or not tolerate appropriate handling.
Doing so won’t necessarily even teach him to leave the wood.
And, if you’re reading this, you care deeply about your pup. And You want what’s best for him.
But I have to still state that, of course, no one should hit their dog.
Don’t Correct the Dog After the Fact
If you come home and see that the baseboard has been chewed, it’s too late to correct your dog. He won’t understand why you’re correcting him. Instead, he may become fearful of you.
If you see him chewing the wood, interrupt him by saying eh-eh and redirect him to the correct thing to chew or to another activity like fetching a favorite toy.
Chewing on wood and other destructive behaviors can be solved by analyzing why they occur.
By managing your dog’s environment and providing enough mental and physical stimulation, the problem should be resolved.
Does your dog chew on the woodwork around the house?
What have you done to deter this behavior?
Tell us about your experiences in the comment section below.
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