My Dog Keeps Chewing Their Bed
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Buying accessories for our dog can be a very enjoyable experience. We look for something which interests them, is practically useful and, if we're lucky, which has a little style. When choosing the right bed for our dog, we hope that they will appreciate the gesture we make by giving them something comfortable to sleep on. When our dog keeps chewing the bed until all the stuffing comes out, it can be disappointing all round. However, the reasons for this biting behavior are varied and require our consideration, not disappointment.
Are saying to yourself, “My dog keeps chewing their bed?” In this AnimalWised article, we look at the cause for this destructive behavior and propose some ways we can prevent it in the future. If you have recently adopted a new dog, whether a puppy or adult, we can also show you what to do to best prevent this happening at all.
My dog chews their bed
When we see our dog chewing their bed it can be very frustrating. Not only have we spent money in the first place, but the destroyed bed will cause a mess and it means they won't have their own place to rest. It is understandable you may be annoyed. However, before we find out why your dog keeps chewing their bed, we need to know we shouldn't scold them.
Destructive behavior in dogs is not their fault. Not only is it something which needs to be curtailed by their guardian, but it originates in natural canine behavior. Chewing and biting are part of a dog's behaviors and communication methods. They carry them out in the wild where they are free to interact with their environment as they see fit. It is only when we bring them into our domestic environment that these instincts need to be channelled.
If your dog is biting their bed and chewing the cushions, you should never shout at them or punish them. Not only is this kind of negative reinforcement harmful to the dog, but it can make the problem worse. he dog won't necessarily relate the punishment to their behavior which can cause confusion and potentially lead to other unhelpful behaviors.
Chewing their bed is something which is unlikely to occur on its own. The chewing will probably extend to shoes, furniture, magazines or anything in their environment. Chewing and biting is part of a dog's exploratory behavior, putting he objects in their mouth to better understand what's around them. If they chew their bed exclusively, they have either developed a specific stereotypy (see next section) or just have a preference for chewing their bed.
Puppies are more likely to chew their bed than adult dogs. Not only are they at a stage where they are the most exploratory, but teething means they might be chewing to reduce discomfort of their adult teeth coming through.
Why does my dog chew their bed?
As we stated above, a dog will have certain reasons for chewing their bed. These reasons will be affected by their developmental stage, any changes in their environment and other factors. To understand why your dog is chewing their bed, you will need to look at the individual situation and context. The following causes of destructive chewing can help you get to the root of the problem:
- Bad education: dogs will be naturally inclined to chew or bite objects. As dog guardians, we need to stop this behavior through education and guide them to enact these behaviors in a healthier way. A poor canine education may encourage biting behavior instead of reducing it. This most likely occurs when they see biting as part of play behavior and don't recognize it as inappropriate.
- Toothache: as a puppy, dogs will chew on items as a way to reduce the discomfort of teething. During this process, the dog's milk teeth will slowly fall out as they are pushed out to accommodate their adult teeth. It is more common for a puppy to bit their bed than for them not to do it. As this is a natural part of growing up, we may need to consider a ripped dog bed to be collateral damage of this process. Problems arise when they continue this behavior into adulthood.
- Frustration: there are dogs that learn to express or vent their frustration through behaviors such as biting their bed. This is particularly common in sensitive dogs. When they are scolded or given negative reinforcement, they may go to their bed to bite because they don't know what else to do. Biting is a way to release frustration.
- Boredom: in the animal world boredom is dangerous. As we can see in any zoo, an animal without enough stimulation tends to suffer boredom. This can lead to repetitive, aggressive or destructive behavior. A dog which is driven to distraction by boredom may chew their bed.
- Stress: a dog may be stressed by various changes in their lives. Since they are creatures of habit, any changes to their routine or home-life can be disruptive and lead to behavioral problems such as inappropriate biting. In these cases, chewing their bed is a type of stereotypy: a persistent or repetitive behavior which seems to have no purpose, but is usually a symptom of stress or anxiety.
- Separation anxiety: all dogs need a certain amount of attention to maintain their well-being, but some need more than others. Separation anxiety occurs when they are left on their own and are fearful their guardian will not return. They are insecure and worried they will not have the companionship, resources and safety once their guardian is gone. Biting their beds in this instance is also a form of stereotypy.
- Lack of exercise: when a dog does not exercise enough, they will need to release pent up energy somehow. Biting their bed and other objects is one way to do so. Different breeds and individual dogs will have varying energy levels.
The best way we can solve these problems and, therefore, stop a dog from chewing their bed is to determine what is the underlying cause. Some causes will resolve naturally over time, such as toothache. Others require you to change their routine, provide more security or remove stressors from their environment.
Unfortunately, many issues regarding stress and anxiety are not easy fixes. You will need to take the dog to a canine educator or ethologist. They will be able to assess the dog's situation, determine the problem and implement measures to stop destructive behavior.
How to keep a dog from chewing their bed
While the process of determining the reason why your dog is chewing their bed can be protracted, there are some practical tips to help prevent them doing it in the first place. They include:
- Teethers: just as a toddler will need a teether to reduce the frustration of teething, a puppy can use dog teethers to do the same. If they have this option, the right teether will be a more enticing option than chewing their bed, but finding it may be a process of trial and error.
- Restrict access: if you only let the dog use their bed when you are around it, you can stay vigilant to see if they begin chewing it. When they start to chew the bed, you can calmly take them off the bed and restrict access. When you eventually give it back, do it again every time they start chewing. Little by little and with a consistent approach, the dog should internalize the reason you are removing the bed and stop biting behavior. You should not scold the dog as it will be counterproductive.
- Buy anti-chew beds: not all dog beds are the same. You can find anti-chew dog beds which are designed to be resistant to chewing.
It can be difficult to stop problematic chewing behavior, but it can be done. With perseverance and love, it is possible. Once you do stop your dog from chewing their bed, you might want to reward them by giving them a very comfortable and plush new one. To show them love, you can make your down dog bed using our handy tutorial in the video below.
If you want to read similar articles to My Dog Keeps Chewing Their Bed, we recommend you visit our Behavioral problems category.