You want the best for your pooch. You get them a nice dog bed, so they have a comfortable place to sleep. However, you soon discover that they have chewed their bed. You may be upset, and even want to scold them for this bad behavior. However, this isn’t the best way to handle it.
Why is my dog chewing her bed?
It’s easy to think that your dog is being spiteful or unappreciative. You get them a bed that you would be happy to sleep on, only to find that they have chewed it. Depending on their size and the bed, they may even destroy it.
It’s important to understand what is causing the behavior, so you know how to stop it.
Dogs are chewers by design. They explore the world with their mouth and nose, so it’s no surprise they love to chew. They are also predators, and use chewing as a way to consume their prey.
Chewing is also a form of play and entertainment. Because it’s a natural behavior, you can’t expect your dog to stop chewing. Instead, you should give them proper things to chew on.
Dogs are a lot like children. If they have too much time on their hands, they will get into trouble. Dogs need mental and physical stimulation to keep from getting bored. In the wild, there are constant opportunities for entertainment. Smells and areas to explore. Other dogs to interact with. Prey to catch and eat.
Your domestic companion doesn’t have the same opportunities for exercise and entertainment as their wild counterparts. This means it’s up to you to provide them with what they need.
If your dog gets bored, they will become destructive. It’s in their nature. They will have pent up mental and physical energy that needs to be expressed. When this occurs, they will entertain themselves in ways you don’t want them to, including chewing their bed.
Anxiety or Stress
Just like humans, dogs can experience anxiety or stress. This can occur for a variety of reasons. It could be a change in your household or routine. It could be an event like a vet visit.
Signs your dog is stressed or anxious include whining or barking. They may also pace or shake, particularly if they are experiencing high anxiety. Panting is also common when a dog is stressed.
Their body language offers clues as well. They may crouch or cower, shifting their weight to their back legs. Their tail will be lowered or between their legs. Their ears may be back, or pinned against their head. They will look stiff or rigid, as opposed to relaxed.
Licking, drooling, and yawning are also signs of stress. Some dogs become obsessive lickers, because it is a self-comfort mechanism.
Stress can cause your dog to become quiet and lethargic. They may even begin to hide or attempt to escape stressful situations. On the other hand, some dogs become very hyper when stressed. Its similar to the way some humans can’t sit still or stop talking when they are experiencing anxiety.
In addition to chewing their bed, they may also have other destructive behaviors. These can include chewing on objects and accidents in the home.
Puppies are notorious chewers, and for good reason. Everything is still relatively new to them, so they need to explore everything with their mouth. They also get their adult teeth as puppies.
Just like human babies, they want to chew on things to reduce the pain of teething. The signs of teething include frequent chewing and drooling. They may eat slower or eat less than normal, because eating is painful.
You may notice small spots of blood on their toys, or red and swollen gums. They may also whine, particularly when chewing or eating.
Separation anxiety is a type of anxiety, but it is slightly different than anxiety due to other causes. A dog with separation anxiety gets anxious when left alone. Some are Velcro dogs. This means they are essentially velcroed to you, following you everywhere you go.
Others are content as long as you are inside the home. However, when you leave, they are very anxious and upset.
If your dog’s destructive behavior only occurs when you leave, separation anxiety may be to blame. If they seem upset when you leave, or overly excited when you return home, they likely have separation anxiety.
You know you can train your dog, but did you know it’s possible to accidentally train them to perform bad behaviors?
Dogs are trained through positive reinforcement. When they do what we want, they get a treat or praise. They quickly learn that one leads to the other.
You may give your dog a treat or chew toy when they chew the bed in an effort to redirect them. You may give them attention that they are seeking as well. Even if you are scolding them, they may feel rewarded because they have your attention.
Consider how you react when they chew their bed carefully. What message are you sending? Are you accidentally rewarding them?
Why the Bed?
Of all the things your dog could chew on, why the bed? As humans, we understand that we should take care of our possessions. A destructive human above the age of 5 or so will rarely destroy something they need or value. They will typically destroy things they don’t particularly need.
It can be confusing to see your dog tearing up something they seem to love. Do they secretly hate the bed? No. They just don’t have the same thought processes humans do.
Softness is one reason the bed is a favorite target for your pooch. It feels like their natural prey, which is soft, squishy, and furry. Consider how a rabbit feels to the touch, and compare that to their bed. They are fairly similar.
Some dogs also prefer chewing soft objects, while others enjoy hard items like wood or rawhide.
The other reasons your dog chews their bed are accessibility and familiarity. To put it simply, their bed is comforting because it’s familiar. It’s always there. It’s also a great target, because it’s easily accessible at all times.
Why is my dog chewing her bed suddenly?
If your dog is suddenly chewing her bed, it could be due to any of the factors listed above. However, there are a few causes that are more likely than others.
Anxiety or Stress
Anxiety or stress is a common cause of sudden behavioral issues in dogs. Has your dog been experiencing signs of stress or anxiety?
The most common reason for a stressed dog is a change to their routine or environment. Has someone moved in or out? This can include a new family member, pet, or someone moving away. Even if they like the new addition, it’s still a stressful experience.
The other common cause of anxiety is a change in your dog’s routine. Has your work schedule changed? Are you suddenly too busy to have your daily snuggle time? Do you feed them at a different time of day? These changes may seem minor, but they can be very stressful for some pooches.
The third common cause of stress is often overlooked. Dogs are empathetic creatures. If you are stressed or unwell, your dog will be too.
Boredom or Lack of Attention
Your pooch may be suffering from boredom or not getting enough attention. If there’s been a change in your dog’s activity level or your interaction with them, this is likely the cause.
Perhaps you’ve been working late. You come home to find the bed in pieces on the floor. Perhaps you’ve been missing your daily walk, and they began chewing on the bed.
Do dogs grow out of chewing their beds?
This depends on the dog’s age, and the reasons for chewing. An adult dog is unlikely to outgrow the behavior, although they can be trained to stop chewing their bed. A puppy, however, may outgrow it as they age.
Little Chew Machines
Puppies are naturally more inclined ot chew on items for several reasons. They are curious about the world around them. Everything is relatively new. Everyday an adventure with new things to explore. This curiosity will naturally lead to chewing.
They also have more energy than mature dogs. They want to play all the time. They become bored easily. This makes it more likely for them to chew the bed out of simple boredom.
Teething is another factor. A teething dog will chew on whatever is available, to relieve the discomfort.
Lastly, puppies have not been taught proper behavior. They are still learning what they can and can’t do. They will naturally do things that are inappropriate, because they simply don’t know any better. Just like human children, they have less impulse control than adult dogs as well.
How to stop my dog from chewing her bed?
To stop your dog from chewing on their bed, it’s best to start by addressing the underlying cause. However, replacing their bed can also help.
If boredom is the culprit, you’ll need to provide your pooch with more entertainment and exercise. Be sure that they get daily exercise. This can include taking them for a walk, or letting them run in a fenced-in yard. Fetch and tug of war are great games to play with your dog.
Toys also help keep boredom at bay. Puzzle feeders dispense kibble or a treat as your pooch interacts with it. This can provide some mental stimulation.
Be sure that you are spending some time with your canine companion each day so they get the attention they need. Doggie playdates can also be helpful. It’s a great way to entertain your furry friend.
You’re busy, and there are times that you just can’t be there with your dog. In these cases, try turning on the TV. Shows with animals or dogs are particularly entertaining to dogs. There are even channels specifically for dogs.
Anxiety and Stress
If anxiety or stress is the culprit, you’ll need to do what you can to eliminate the cause. This isn’t always possible, however. If there’s been a recent change, it may just take them some time to adjust.
Spending a bit of extra time with them can help ease them through challenging periods. Keeping them entertained and providing physical exercise is also helpful. Dog pheromone products and herbal supplements can help relieve anxiety. In severe cases, you may need to speak to your vet about anxiety relief.
Chew Proof Bed
Some beds are designed for chewers. They are made from tough materials, and have extra layers to make them essentially chew proof. You’ll still need to work to address the underlying cause of the chewing, but it can at least keep your pooch from destroying their bed.