Chewing is a natural dog instinct that is common in both adult Australian Shepherd and puppies. It is a destructive behavior that results in your dog chewing on items in the home.
Your Australian Shepherd does not intentionally do this but the behavior needs to be controlled.
Without control, it leads to a behavioral problem that leads to the destruction of items in your home which can be very frustrating.
It is important to understand why chewing occurs so that you can implement the right method to train your Australian Shepherd against this behavior.
So, why does your Australian Shepherd chew everything?
In this article, we will look at the reasons why Australian Shepherds chew everything and what to do about it.
Here’s why the Australian Shepherd chews everything
The Australian Shepherd may chew everything because of stress, puppy teething, separation anxiety, fear, boredom, attention-seeking, or inadequate training. Chewing is a natural instinctive habit that is common in all dogs but if not controlled can lead to a behavioral problem that is destructive.
Common Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Chew everything
Stress and frustration
Sometimes Australian Shepherds will chew when they are experiencing a stressful situation. They chew on anything in sight as a coping mechanism.
Stress and anxiety can come from moving to a new home, a change of routine, being in a crate, or the introduction of a new pet in the home.
The Australian Shepherd puppy that is teething will chew everything in sight. This is normal because chewing helps to ease the irritation, pain, and discomfort due to the growth of adult teeth.
Puppy teething starts at 3 to 4 months and up to 8 months. Therefore the Australian Shepherd puppy will chew on everything to feel better as the process continues.
This can be a very frustrating stage because your puppy will constantly search for items in your house to chew on.
By being aware of this stage of development, you can put in place appropriate measures to help your puppy get through it without damage to your house.
Australian Shepherds are very attached to their human companions and are highly susceptible to separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety means that the Australian Shepherd becomes extremely anxious when left alone and separated from its owners. This occurs in dogs that are very dependent on their owners or very attached.
The Australian Shepherd with separation anxiety shows distressing behaviors such as restlessness, withdrawal and being quiet, scratching on doors, barking excessively, shivering, shaking, pacing, refusing to eat, and chewing on items to try to cope with the anxiety.
Related: Why is my Australian Shepherd so annoying?
Fear is a normal response in animals. Australian Shepherds can be frightened by a variety of things from situations, objects, or people which present a real or perceived danger to them.
This can be from traumatic experiences, loud noises, or other perceived dangers.
Fear and anxiety can be caused by poor socialization, dementia due to aging, an individual Australian Shepherd’s temperament, and illnesses that contribute to phobia and fears.
A fearful and anxious Australian Shepherd will show behaviors that indicate they are distressed such as pacing, trembling, crying, drooling, excessive barking, growling, snapping, incontinence, excessive grooming, and chewing on objects.
Australian Shepherds get bored when they’re not physically or mentally engaged. When bored, they direct their energy and attention to activities that can be destructive such as chewing on everything.
The Australian Shepherd is a high-energy dog and requires activities and exercises for enrichment and to be healthy.
If they are not provided with activities to physically and mentally engage themselves and outlets for pent-up energy, they get bored and chew for fun.
See Also: Australian Shepherd digging: Causes and how to stop it
the Australian Shepherd chewing everything can also be a call for attention to have you focus on them. Australian Shepherds love and thrive on human company and your dog may just want to spend more time with you.
To do this and to get your attention, they can communicate by engaging in destructive behavior because they know you will focus on them.
Australian Shepherds are naturally compelled to chew on things for exploration, during teething, or for fun therefore it is in their nature to do it.
If not controlled this natural habit can become destructive and everything in your home will be a target for destruction.
The Australian Shepherd without adequate training to avoid chewing on items in the home will continue to chew anything that they can get.
Therefore inadequate training contributes to the Australian Shepherd chewing everything.
How to stop your Australian Shepherd from chewing everything
Properly manage the puppy teething stage
During the puppy teething stage, the Australian Shepherd puppy will chew on everything to relieve its discomfort as the adult teeth come in.
To manage this and to help them during this stage, provide alternatives for them for pain and discomfort relief.
You can do this by providing ice cubes or toys and washcloths designed for teething puppies which can be frozen and chewed on to relieve gum discomfort.
Training is required to teach your Australian Shepherd desired behaviors that you want them to have such as not chewing everything in your home.
This can be done by training them on what they can chew on such as their toys and what items are off-limits.
Continuously use positive reinforcement to train them by rewarding good behavior with treats or praise, so that they understand and show what is required of them.
Command words are also important to stop your Australian Shepherd from engaging in chewing when they start or are tempted to chew an item they are not supposed to chew.
Training is also helpful in teaching your Australian Shepherd how to cope with separation anxiety or fear-related anxieties.
You can also seek the help of a certified professional veterinary behaviorist to help you with the training process against destructive behavior.
Exercise and activities
Exercises and activities help to reduce boredom and help to redirect your Australian Shepherd’s energy to beneficial tasks. This reduces destructive chewing.
Also, spend time with your Australian Shepherd by playing with them regularly so that they can utilize their energy and bond with you.
When you do not have time to be with your Australian Shepherd, you can also enroll them in a dog daycare where there will be activities to engage in.
Provide toys to your Australian Shepherd which will engage them and what they can chew on. This includes chewing toys for medium-large dogs.
This minimizes destructive chewing in your home. Toys distract your dog as the main focus and also help puppies during teething to ease discomfort, and also reduce stress or frustration in your dog.
Toys can also be used in training sessions to teach your Australian Shepherd about items that are ok to chew on and what household items are off-limits.
Utilize chew deterrents
Another way to prevent your Australian Shepherd from chewing on everything is to use chew deterrents which are safe bitter solutions that are sprayed on the items in the home to discourage your dog from chewing on them.
Grannick’s bitter apple spray for dogs on Amazon is a great chew deterrent. You can also DIY a simple deterrent mixture consisting of apple cider vinegar with water and spray it on pillows, furniture, or other items.
When your Australian Shepherd starts to chew on the sprayed items, they will taste the bitter solution which will discourage them from continuing their chewing mission.
Supervise your Australian Shepherd
Supervise your Australian Shepherd when in the house to keep an eye on what they may be up to. Keeping watch allows you to be aware of inappropriate behavior and give you the opportunity to correct it.
Dog-proof the home
Keep valuable items in your home out of reach to avoid damage from your Australian Shepherd.
For example, put magazines, newspapers, and books on drawers or shelves, use indoor dog gates or prevent access to some rooms.
Chewing is a destructive behavior when not controlled therefore it is important to train the Australian Shepherd not to do it on certain items in the home.
The first thing to do is to know the reason behind why your Australian Shepherd chews everything, then secondly implement the appropriate action to control the habit.
Always be patient with your Australian Shepherd and do not punish them by yelling or hitting them which will negatively influence them and increase their anxiety.
Even well-trained Australian Shepherds slip up and chew on everything because chewing is a normal instinctive dog habit, therefore be calm and patient with them when it occurs.