You want your dog to be comfortable and happy when he is sleeping, so you fashion him a bed. Unfortunately, not all dogs appreciate your kind gestures. It is not uncommon for dogs to chew up their blankets and bedding. Destructive chewing can be an expensive, annoying and even hazardous behavior that, as a pet owner, you will want to put a stop to as quickly as possible.
Understanding Your Dog's Chewing
Dogs are naturally inclined to chew. Chewing helps keep your dog's teeth healthy, helps your dog relieve tension and entertains him. Unfortunately, problems can occur when your dog begins chewing excessively or chewing on inappropriate items, such as his bedding. You will most likely not be able to stop your dog from chewing altogether, but you should be able to redirect his chewing behavior onto more acceptable items.
Factors That Contribute to Chewing
Age can be a big factor in a dog's inappropriate chewing behavior. If your dog is under 6 months old, chances are he's teething. A young dog may very well outgrow his destructive chewing behavior as he ages. If your dog is already an adult, his chewing possibly signifies that he suffers from boredom or separation anxiety. Some dogs, especially those who have recently had their food intake intentionally reduced or changed, may begin chewing because they are hungry. It is also possible that your dog is performing a compulsive behavior known as fabric sucking, which the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says may be caused by being weaned too early as a puppy. Dogs who are fabric suckers may lick, suck or chew fabrics compulsively.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends giving your dog plenty of exercise and playtime daily to help lower his energy level and decrease the likelihood that he will be bored or hyper enough to want to shred his bedding during downtime. You can also give him dog-safe toys that were created to be chewed. If your dog has plenty of dog toys, rawhide and other items that are meant to be chewed, he may be less likely to chew stuff you don't want him to chew. The ASPCA recommends giving your dog puzzle toys that require him to manipulate the toy in a certain way in order for the toy to release a treat. Dog puzzles can help keep a bored dog mentally engaged.
Stop Destructive Chewing
You can buy bitter-tasting sprays designed specifically to keep dogs from mouthing things. You apply such sprays to the objects you don't want chewed. Always supervise your dog when he is loose in your home. Verbally reprimand him for chewing and remove the item he is chewing on. Give him an item that is okay to chew, like a toy, instead. If all else fails, remove the bedding -- your dog does not physically need blankets and bedding. Removing the items in question will most likely be preferable to risking him actually eating the bedding and developing medical problems as a result. Some arthritic or crippled dogs, however, may need some form of support. See your vet to ensure that your dog doesn't require pain-alleviating bedding.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.