"We got ourselves a rescue dog, WAIT I am so rude! First, thanks for your dogblog!
Okay, a little backstory, rescue dog brought home at 9 months (him) and there was no abuse in his past, he just needed the right home and his mom and her boyfriend couldn't keep him around. Sad. But happy for us...
Fred has been awesome! I have been working with him on simple commands and he picks it up right away. He doesn't jump or bark a lot, and is so sweet and good. All he wants is to be right there with you. Which brings us to my question: I know he has separation anxiety, but why does he need to eat wood? He has eaten thru a large chunk of a tree stump in our yard, and is working on the bark of the small cypress in the side yard. I give him chew toys, and bones, but he prefers wood. This scares me a bit. He loves to be outside laying in the sun with a nice chunk of bark. Is this okay? How can I help him?
Fred, the incredible wood eating dog, is not unusual in his preference for chew toys. A lot of dogs like to chew wood for one reason or another, but it is not a behavior you want to encourage. Splinters from the wood can lodge in the dogs mouth, across the throat, and between the teeth. Or pieces of the wood can penetrate the esophagus or stomach causing internal bleeding. I'm not a veterinarian so you're not going to get the correct medical jargon from me, but I did find this article written by a vet on the subject of all that can go wrong if your dog is a stick chewer. You really need to read it if your dog has a preference for sticks and twigs. Just a warning, the website can be a bit scary. You wont want your dog to even glance at a tree again.
Thank you so much, again, am enjoying the blog."
I can, however, help you stop the behavior. Ready?
Restrict your dog's - or in this case, Fred's - access to wood. Done. No more stick chewing.
You all hate me right now, don't you? On the heels of my last post here I am again that training a dog can be as easy as removing the temptations before they become habits. Angela said, "He loves to be outside laying in the sun with a nice chunk of bark." Well, that's kind of like saying, "But my toddler loves to play with his father's power tools." It's up to you, the owner, to decide what is the correct behavior for your dog to develop. If this is not exactly what your dog wants, tough tootsies for him. If his sticks, or tree trunk, are kept from him he'll eventually move on to other things to chew.
Now, I know that it's not always as easy as removing a temptation. Angela did mention that there was a tree trunk that Fred liked to gnaw on. I think until Fred can be trusted not to eat wood anymore the trunk needs to be covered or surrounded with something.
- The trunk can be surrounded by chicken wire (easy enough to cut to size) or covered in metal netting or stainless steel wire mesh (find at your local plant nursery or hardware store), for instance.
- You could also try covering the stump in rough burlap and then stapling it to the bottom, leaving no piece of the wood showing, but this only works if your dog wouldn't chew the burlap either.
- There are chew stops in liquid form that can be sprayed on the stump, like Bitter Apple, but to cover that much area you'd be spraying constantly.
- A trick that I picked up from the horse people I know is to cover any edible wood surface (or anywhere a dog might chew, for that matter) with Irish Spring soap. Just rub the dry bar on the tasty surface and, viola, not so tasty anymore.
I've mentioned Kong's in the past. I love those things, can't say enough about them. But there's a lot of chewy toys on the market, you just need to find the one or two that your dog really likes. Kong's, Bumpers, and Tire Biters are good, safe toys to leave with your dog. If Fred's really bored then get him a treat ball, like a Buster Cube, and let him push that around the yard for awhile until he gets all the yummy treats out of it. And, of course, limit his access to the outdoors if he cannot be supervised.
I hope that Fred loses his taste for wood. It's going to take some time but taking away something he likes is so much better than a visit to the emergency room.