Picture this. You walk into your home after a long day and slump into your sofa to get some rest. But, the first thing you notice gets you worked up – bite marks on the wooden legs of your furniture. Not just one bite mark, but several. Not only that, there are tiny pieces of wood trailing all the way to your backyard. So you decide to follow it to find out who the culprit is. Outside, you find your dog chewing busily on a piece of stick. Worst of all, the habit continues for days, and you have no idea what to do about it. What do you do? Unfortunately, this scene happens a lot to many dog owners. A dog chewing on woodwork is not a new thing. Our canine buddies are natural chewers. So, why do dogs eat wood? We will attempt to solve this mysterious habit in this article.
Believe it or not, a piece of wood, stick, or tree back can be very tasty for dogs. Every dog owner knows that a dog can eat basically anything. But a piece of wood should be a stretch even by our canine’s standards, right? Wrong! Sometimes, the only reason why you will find your puppy chewing wood as if nothing else matters in its world is that it probably likes how it tastes. You may supply it with all the chewy dog toys you can find in an attempt to ween it off this bad habit. Yet, every day, you will return home to find your dog chewing its life away on some piece of wood. Tree barks, especially, can be a favorite for dogs. This is because of their cellulose content. Some dog food companies even add cellulose to their dog foods, as it is a type of fiber. If your dog is chewing on tree bark, you can try increasing the fiber content in its diet. This may get it to stop.
Bored or Anxious
Dogs cannot communicate all their emotions to us – not like the way we may wish them to. Thus, they resort to certain behaviors that you may find difficult to understand. If your dog is developing a new habit of chewing on a piece of wood or stick, the chances are that it is either feeling bored or anxious. One other behavior your dog will display if he is bored, anxious, or lonely is that he will spend a lot of time by himself. This often happens when a dog does not get enough attention from its owner. This can make him depressed as he suffers from separation anxiety. Thus, sometimes, when you find your dog chewing on a piece of stick or wood alone by himself, try increasing the amount of time you spend with him. It is the best solution in this situation. There are two simple but important things you should do. First, spend more time playing with him. Secondly, take him out for walks and exercise. The latter will help to stimulate his mind, lower his stress levels, and drastically reduce his impulse to chew on wood. Also, you should consider investing in interactive toys for dogs, as they may keep them off chewing stuff around the house.
A Strong Inclination to Chew
As mentioned earlier, dogs naturally like to chew on stuff – any stuff at all. Sometimes, this natural inclination can become a bit overpowering for them. And, unlike humans (well, most humans), dogs do not have the natural ability to control their natural inclinations. This is especially true for teething puppies. A teething dog will have a strong desire to chew on anything it can to make it comfortable. And, sometimes, a piece of wood or tree back fits perfectly in the mouth. There is only one way to help a dog that is struggling with a natural inclination to chew on wood – or any other unhealthy stuff. You can try to redirect its focus and attention from the discomfort it feels to something else. Chewy dog toys can serve as ideal alternatives. Always make sure that there is a chewy toy in sight. This may make your home look messy, but it will also help your dog. Plus, it is only for a short period of time. You can also try stimulating his mind with some puzzle games. And oh, don’t forget the treats.
Compulsive Destructive Behavior
Now, to a more cringe-worthy reason. A condition such as pica can cause your dog to chew excessively on wood and pieces of sticks. Pica in dogs is a condition that drives dogs to chew and even digest objects that are not food or even edible. The objects can range from a piece of plastic, wood or metal, to clothes, furniture, garbage, paper, and even sometimes feces. Did you cringe? Although pica is usually a result of psychologically compulsive behavior, it can also be caused by poor nutrition or other medical issues. But, whatever the cause is, pica can (and usually does) lead to serious health problems in dogs. Other causes of pica in dogs include stress, depression, and a lack of quality playtime. After a while, some other symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea, will show up. Consuming too much wood and other non-edible stuff will cause serious abdominal and digestive problems for your dog. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from pica, please contact your vet immediately as this can be a fatal condition.
What to Do
No matter what the cause for your dog chewing on wood is, there are a few things you can try to discourage that behavior. First, keep your eyes on your dog’s outdoor activities as often as you can. And, do not hesitate to use a harsh and loud tone to scold your dog as this will help to discourage it. You can also purchase deterrent sprays that are not toxic, such as bitter apple spray. This can be sprayed on the bark of trees and other wooden stuff to deter your dog. But, most importantly, please ensure that you give your dog enough attention, playtime, exercise, and a balanced diet. Doing these will greatly reduce their desire to form an unhealthy bond with wood.
In conclusion, there are a number of reasons why a dog will chew on wood. But, no matter the reason, chewing on wood can very dangerous to your dog’s health. Thankfully, there are several things you can try both as remedies and deterrents to help your dog stay clear of this unhealthy behavior. Do not hesitate to consult your vet on any other issue you are not certain about.
- Amy Brantley, How to Stop Dogs From Chewing Wood, The Nest
- Why Puppies Chew and What You Can Do About It, VetStreet
- Debra Horwitz, DVM, DACVB, Dogs and Destructive Chewing, VCA Hospitals