Tuesday, 22 November 2011




Puppies, just like human babies get itchy sore gums when their teeth are growing in. Chewing also helps to remove loose teeth (which can be very uncomfortable) so adult teeth can grow in. You can provide a few seconds of temporary relief by rubbing your puppy's' gums, this is also a great way to build puppy's trust in you! Make sure puppy has safe items of his own to chew.

Teenage and Adult Dogs

It is normal for a dog to chew - chewing is a dog's way of gaining and maintaining strength in its jaw - essential to survival! Depending on what they are chewing on, chewing can also help keep a dog's teeth healthy and clean.

An anxious dog may chew to expend some of it's anxious energy. To resolve this type of chewing you must understand, address and cure the root of the anxiety.

A dog may chew as an outlet to expend unspent energy. Make sure your dog gets enough exercise on a daily basis. Unspent energy can lead to frustration, anxiety and reactivity, aggressive behavior.

Remember that we do not always learn or choose to do as we are asked to do the first time either! Dogs are intelligent, they have a mind, will and personality of their own - just as humans do. Shift your expectations to understand that they are independent, intelligent and very sensitive beings who require coaching and mentoring by a leader, not a dominator. And by the way, dogs do not like hypocrisy any more than humans do...so if you yell, get angry, get frustrated - you loose your audience.

Robbie chewing a stick on the trail

Punishing a dog for chewing on an object (irregardless of whether the dog is anxious, or just does not know any better) is akin to severely reprimanding a person who is trying to learn a new skill and does not get it quite right. Once burned twice shy...aggressive correction takes away a persons confidence to move forward and can cause psychological harm. It is exactly the same for a dog!

As guardians to our dogs it is our role to coach and mentor our dogs - to teach with patience and understanding - not with tension, frustration and anger. When we attempt to instruct a dog and we are not calm, confident, firm and fair we are setting the dog up for failure. Instead when we correct and follow-through with calm confidence we are providing the dog with the information it requires to make better choices.

So if your dog is chewing something you do not want it to chew...

One -  Make sure you are calm (without excess emotion),and ready to coach with fair, firm confidence. Don't be aggressive, don't raise your voice in anger.

Two - Lead...addressing from a distance is not leadership, calmly but with assurance get up and walk over to your dog.

Three - get your dogs attention, you can touch your dog firmly but quickly with your fingers - at its neck or waist, you can snap your fingers and say 'hey' firmly, but not with anger. Never touch or talk in anger as you then lead by the wrong example!

Four - Tell your dog what you want i.e. 'no, don't touch' and then say 'leave it' I have ten dogs - different breeds, from tiny to large - they all understand this type of direction...as do the dogs I work with for my clients.

Five - Tell your dog what you would like it to do instead i.e. 'go sit down' etc.

Six - Follow through...if your dog goes back to the object and starts to chew again - don't get angry, simply correct as per the steps above.

Seven - Depending on the circumstances, as a final step to this process, you may want to offer your dog something that is safe and acceptable for it to chew.

Jordie chewing rawhide

Providing your dog with the right things to chew ensures that this need is met in a safe and healthy way. Dogs that are in a balanced state of being are unlikely to chew other items such as your shoes or your hands if they have safe durable chew toys and rawhide. The same toys and rawhide can also help to keep your dog's teeth clean.

The basket shown above contains some of my packs' chew toys. The pink, orange, red and blue chew toys are soft, durable and non-toxic; they also make a squeaky noise when chomped on at the right place. Kongs are another very popular dog chew toy. Even the smaller parts on these toys cannot be chewed off - these are chew toys that the dogs can have unsupervised.

The pink toy is Sarah's favourite. If I ask Sarah "where's your Piggy", she will go get this toy and bring it to me. If she has lost her piggy under one of the couches (when she tosses it in the air it often ends up rolling under), she will show me which couch and where along the length of the couch the Piggy is.

The blue two tone bone and the orange ball with feet are Buddy's favourites. 

The various types of rawhide shown in the basket are all natural rawhide (no chemical flavour additives or food colouring). These are only given to the dogs when I am around to supervise.

It is very important that rawhide be given to dogs only when you are around to supervise. Some dogs are really good about taking their time to chew properly and others are not so cautious and will not chew the entire rawhide properly. They will attempt to swallow larger pieces. These pieces can become lodged in the dog’s throat and cut off their air supply. Most of my dogs are careful, but Robbie is a repeat offender. There have been occasions when I have had to put my hand down his throat to remove a good size piece of rawhide.

As an added and nutritious treat, I put natural peanut butter on their rawhide. The nutrients in the peanut butter are good for them. The peanut butter also encourages them to take their time and lick the rawhide, helping to soften it before they chew. I choose natural peanut butter as the only ingredient in it, is peanuts. Other peanut butters include sugar and salt - ingredients that are not so good for your dog.

If you would like more detailed information on safe and healthy things you can give your dog to chew you can read this article on How to Select Safe, Effective Teeth Cleaning Chews & Dental Chews for Your Dog.

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  1. I'm laughing as I read this article. My new rescue pup is notorious for digging and chewing. I just lost yet another dog bed to her chewing and yes my yard does look like a construction site. She has more than enough variety of things she can chew and she is walked every day (off leash) so she can run. She obviously needs more than one run a day.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful articles and your love to our pets .


Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

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Wishing your dog and cat the best of health!

Karen Rosenfeld
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Adviser – Dogs and Cats