Chew on this: Puppies need to work for their food - Albuquerque Journal

Chew on this: Puppies need to work for their food

Q: I have a female mini dachshund who is 8 months old. She’s been chewing the spaghetti irrigation tubes in the yard to pieces! I thought she was doing it because she was thirsty so I keep a water bowl outside for her. Next, I used a spray to keep her from chewing but she just licked it off and then chewed. She then brings them in and chews them into smaller pieces. I put up a fence around the areas but she just jumped it and chews and climbs out. She has many chew toys and has chewed up two rawhides completely.

Dr. Nichol: What a naughty little dog! I think your dachshund must be our border collie puppy’s sister. “Mick” Nichol has never met a spaghetti hose he didn’t like. Sadly, there is no effective deterrent for indiscriminate irrigation chewers. Dogs think taste-bads like Bitter Apple are marinara on their pasta.

Puppies chew because they must. Beyond teething, canine juveniles are programmed to work loose bits of food from carcasses – their primary sustenance in the wild. What? Don’t our pets know they can count on us to feed them? Ah, no. Dogs are genetically wired for scarcity. The great famine could descend on them in 20 minutes. Chewing is survival training for these young rapscallions.

Forget scolding, threats of long prison sentences, and hot pepper sauce. Fortify your landscaping fence, then consider tossing road kill into your living room for your little scavenger. A more sanitary alternative would be a variety of food-dispensing toys and puzzles. Lose the bowl and rotate an assortment of food toys as your girl’s exclusive opportunities to survive. She’ll feel just like a real dog, a productive member of society.

The best food toys are those that require a dog to work hard. Mick prefers his Twist ‘n Treat, loaded with canned food and frozen overnight. He gets good and tired, pushing it into corners to coax bits of Science Diet popsicle loose. We’re all better for it. A tired puppy is a happy puppy.

⋄ For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.


Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.

 

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