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ASK THE EXPERT - My pet likes to eat or chew paper. Why?

Smartliving Guest asked this
January 22, 2013 at 10:22 AM

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There is no medical reason that dogs eat paper or any other inanimate object. I recommend keeping items such as paper, socks, underwear, torn off pieces of plush toy, or rawhide away from your dog to prevent a life threatening intestinal obstruction. Most of the time dogs chew and eat things they are not supposed to because of boredom. It's very important that your dog receive 30 minutes of heart pumping exercise a day. Dogs also need mental stimulation. Playing ball or using an active feeding device such as a Kong Wobbler or Kibble Nibble ball can help challenge and entertain your dog.

Dr. Lynn Happel DVM Health Coach answered
January 22, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Typically older dog's will enjoy eating paper if they were allowed as a puppy to do so. Many pet-parents, when they get a puppy, think these little antics are cute when they see their puppy shredding the Sunday newspaper, or running around the house with a magazine hanging from their mouth this may be cute at the moment, but when the puppy becomes an adult dog, it turns into an unwanted behavioral problem. I always encourage my clients to never allow their puppy to chew on anything they don't want their soon-to-be adult dog chewing on.

Sometimes, a dog that displays this behavior that has had no prior interest in chewing on paper or eating it could be doing so out of boredom, frustration, or anxiety. I ask my clients to take a look at their routine or recent changes in their life. Maybe a new job, a new baby, a new home, or lack of exercise can trigger a behavior that once wasn't there.

When you catch your dog in the act of chewing on the paper, make sure to immediately take it away, give your dog a firm "NO," and then replace the paper item with the appropriate chew toy. However, be careful with this, many dogs will associate the attention you are giving them with the chewing of the paper. Some dogs will grab the paper and run around the house as we chase them to try to get it from them. To a dog, this is a GREAT game!

To help maintain control of this unwarranted behavior, put a leash on your dog and let them drag the leash around the house. If you catch your dog chewing on the paper, walk over quietly to your dog, pick up the leash or step on it with your foot, and then take away the paper and give your dog something appropriate to chew on instead. Chasing averted! The best method to use is the preventive method. My rule to all my pet-parent clients is if you don't want it chewed on, don't leave it out. Make sure all the paper items are in an appropriate place where a dog does not have access. Is toilet paper an issue? No problem, keep the bathroom door shut, so the dog cannot get in to the trash or have access to the toilet paper.

Ask yourself, what type of exercise your dog is getting on a daily basis? Sadly, many unwanted behaviors are contributed by lack of exercise and socialization. Something as a simple daily 30 to 45 minute walk or jog can help prevent many unwanted behaviors. Dogs need an outlet, and as their pet-parent it is our job to provide the proper exercise mentally and physically. Don't expect a dog to be crated all day while you are at work, and not have a need for an outlet of pent up energy.

Also consider giving your dog a wonderful toy like the Kong. This is a toy that you can fill with yummy treats, and your dog has to use their wits to figure out how to get these yummy treats out of this toy. It is a great way to occupy your dog for some time. Of course, only after the exercise regime is completed.

Chewing paper can be entertaining and dangerous. Take the precautions; add in training and exercise properly to help prevent this unwanted behavior.

Victoria Swanson Health Coach answered
January 22, 2013 at 10:24 AM
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