Is your pooch going at it with your baseboards, furniture, doors, and window frames? Does he often bring home pieces of chewed-on wood picked up from the backyard?
From teething pains, boredom to behavior issues, dogs eat wood for various reasons. Dogs are unfussy eaters and will chew on almost anything they come across. But, if Fido is nibbling away at your prized furniture, you might easily run out of patience.
Read on as we explore why dogs eat wood and what you can do to stop this behavior.
In this article, we will talk about:
- The 4 reasons why dogs eat wood
- The side-effects of a dog eating wood
- How to stop your dog from eating wood
Let’s jump right into it!
4 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Wood
Finding your dog has chewed on the foot of your treasured table or the door frame can be quite alarming. Not all wood chewing is bad, but this behavior can quickly become destructive.
Let us take a look at the possible reasons why dogs eat wood.
1. It’s a Natural Instinct
Your dog is not about to waste those sharp teeth doing nothing! On a serious note, though, dogs are natural chewers, and it is no wonder they are well equipped with sharp teeth.
Their wolf ancestors spent a lot of their time in the woods tearing and chewing raw meat and cutting down twigs to access their prey. It isn’t any wonder that our domestic canine companions would imitate this behavior.
Fortunately, despite chewing being an instinct, it is possible to amend this behavior. You can teach your pup what he can and cannot chew on.
2. Chewing Wood Provides Relief
Unlike chewing a rock, chewing on wood is less painful. This explains why your dog won’t chew on the curb way bricks but will eat baseboard or wooden frames in the house.
Aside from being a natural instinct, chewing is something dogs do since they are babies when they start teething.
Wood offers a nice, solid material that the dog can use to press his gums and jaws to relieve teething pain without hurting himself.
It is common for young puppies to pick up and chew on sticks outdoors. The rough texture and solid nature make these wooden sticks the perfect teething toys.
If left untrained, some dogs will mature into adulthood and continue chewing on wooden furniture, causing even more destruction than a smaller pup.
Adult dogs that have already grown out their teeth will still associate wood with relief and fun. The grown pup will continue playing with wooden items that gave him relief in the past.
3. Some Dogs Chew Out Of Boredom
Dogs find chewing to be an incredibly entertaining way to pass their time. A bored dog is more likely to resort to eating wood than one that is well entertained.
It is not always easy to keep Fido entertained round the clock. And, he might reject appropriate toys, opting instead to chew on wooden items.
If you usually use sticks as part of training and playing fetch, your pooch may get into the habit of scavenging for sticks and chewing on them.
In this case, wood sticks are associated with all fun and games, although Fido might not understand that he is not supposed to chew on them.
It is a good idea to use mentally simulating toys when playing fetch with your pooch. Reinforcing positive behavior can encourage the dog to play with appropriate toys, which do not include wood sticks.
4. Your Dog Might Have Behavioral Problems
Animals, including dogs, don’t do things just for the sake of it. There is a reason behind every action.
When doggy is eating wooden parts such as door and window frames and furniture, the most common explanation is an underlying behavioral problem.
Dogs typically engage in destructive behavior such as chewing on items they shouldn’t because they are anxious.
If your dog chews on wood when you are away, for example, when you leave him behind for work, separation anxiety might be at play.
A major sign of separation anxiety is chewing on door and window frames, which Fido cleverly associates with your exit. He doesn’t understand that you will be back, and he resorts to destruction to deal with the stress of your absence.
It is also common for a dog to engage in destructive habits such as chewing furniture to gain attention.
Let’s say one day you rush over to admonish Fido after catching him chomping away at the baseboard. Your dog might ‘try you’ by engaging in this same behavior at a later date to see your reaction.
If you rush over to him again and admonish, pet, cuddle, or beg him to stop, Fido will happily figure out that chewing on the baseboard is the perfect way to draw your attention.
Is It Safe For Dogs To Eat Wood: The Side Effects When Dogs Eat Wood
Your dog will not necessarily fall sick from nibbling away at your antique console or the dry twigs out front.
But, the wood chunks or particles can easily hurt Fido. First, if the dog is chewing on wooden sticks, there is a risk of choking if a piece of the stick breaks off.
Splintered wood can blister the mouth and even perforate the throat and intestines, which can be very costly for a veterinarian to treat. If surgery is required, your dog, especially an old one, might have a long journey to recovery.
Broken pieces of wood can also block and interfere with the digestive system, resulting in a life-threatening condition that would have been preventable in the first place.
Lastly, some types of woods, such as black walnut and red maple, among others, are toxic and can be detrimental to your pet’s health.
Chewing on wood can destroy property, requiring hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs. You should take steps to stop this habit in its tracks and socialize Fido differently.
Let us now take a look at how you can prevent your dog from eating wood.
How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Wood
A lot of the time, wood-eating is a learned behavior. Luckily, you can help doggy unlearn this destructive and potentially dangerous behavior.
Here are a few tips to help you stop your dog from eating wood.
Provide an alternative chew toy
If you and Fido have been playing fetch with wood sticks, consider replacing these with chewable toys. Always use positive reinforcement when you catch your dog chewing and playing with his new toys.
Make the toys engaging
It is not enough to throw a bunch of toys on the floor and expect Fido to stop gnawing at the table leg suddenly. Get exciting, age and size-appropriate toys to destruct him.
If possible, the toy should provide positive reinforcement to keep Fido engaged for as long as possible.
Try food puzzles, which act as a toy and a feeder, releasing your puppy’s favorite treats at various intervals.
Limit access to wooden items
It might not be possible to store away your furniture or cover frames and baseboards. But, you can apply a bitter-tasting but non-toxic spray on these parts and items to deter the dog. Apply the spray for 3-4 weeks to change the dog’s habit.
If Fido is fond of picking up and chewing sticks from the yard, you will have to clear out the yard. Get rid of sticks big enough for Fido to chew on and prevent access to any storage areas where wood is kept
Encourage an active lifestyle
Boredom is a major reason why dogs eat wood. Thwart boredom by keeping your pup active, such as bringing her to the park, taking brisk walks, or going hiking. When your dog is tired and mentally stimulated, he will have little energy to munch on your furniture.
Use positive and negative reinforcement
Give doggy his favorite treats as a reward for good behavior. For example, you can reward him with a treat he will love when he plays with his favorite chew toy instead of chewing on the door frame.
Don’t be afraid to use negative reinforcement either, whenever necessary. For example, say a firm ‘no’ whenever Fido attempts to chew on wood.
You can also use noise to deter Fido from engaging in destructive habits. When you catch him attempting to chew on a piece of furniture, shake a can full of coins over his head; the noise will startle him enough to stop him from engaging in the negative behavior.
Summary: Why Do Dogs Eat Wood?
Dogs might enjoy chewing on wood, but most dog owners do not like this behavior. Dogs eat wood for fun, when they are bored, or for behavioral reasons.
It takes careful observation of your canine buddy to understand his particular reason for gnawing at your furniture. Then, you can devise easy solutions to help him break this habit.
Remember to balance negative with positive reinforcement to encourage good habits in your pet.