Why Do Dogs Chew? A Guide for Decoding & Managing the Habit

Chewing is your dog’s natural instinct! In addition to its many mental and physical benefits, chewing is an activity dogs simply love—not a “bad” habit like many believe. In fact, our furry friends have been chewing bones and other natural chews for centuries. And while dogs have evolved in many ways, it’s no surprise that chewing is still a natural instinct for them.

So, why do dogs chew, and how can you teach your furry friend healthy, non-destructive chewing habits? Learn more about how this fun activity can enrich your dog’s life!

Why Do Dogs Like to Chew? 6 Common Reasons

From soothing sensitive gums to keeping their brains busy, there are many reasons why your dog could be chewing.

Reason #1: Boredom

A lack of mental stimulation is one of the most popular reasons why dogs chew! Whether you have an adult dog or a young puppy, every type of companion is susceptible to dog boredom. If your pooch isn’t staying entertained or receiving proper stimulation, they might start chewing on things they shouldn’t.

To give your dog the enrichment they need, find them some delicious-tasting chew toys with interesting shapes. These will help keep your dog’s brain occupied...and prevent them from chewing your shoes, furniture, or other belongings!


🐶 Related: The Best Types of Toys for Bored Dogs


Reason #2: Loneliness

One of the more difficult challenges pet parents face is leaving their dog home alone. Whether you’re going to work or running some errands, your dog can resort to destructive habits if you don’t help them positively cope with alone time.

Offer them chew toys when you’re around to encourage positive dog chewing habits so that when you leave, they know what is and isn’t off limits in your home.


Reason #3: Nervousness or Separation Anxiety

It’s not unusual for dogs to experience nervousness, separation anxiety, or even stress at some time. From taking a trip to the vet to hearing fireworks outside, there are many tense moments where chewing can be a natural coping mechanism for pooches!

There are a few methods you can try to calm an anxious dog, like adding more exercise to their routine, playing soothing music in the home, or simply giving them their favorite chew toy. This will help take their mind off the stressor and toward a stimulating activity instead. To offer an extra-special distraction, you can even add a fun treat like peanut butter inside a stuffable chew toy. Talk about a delicious way to give your dog something else to focus on!

puppy chewing on a person's thumb


Reason #4: Teething Pain

Puppy teething discomfort can make our little furry friends try anything for relief—especially chewing! When the adult teeth start pushing their way in through their gumline, puppies chew and gnaw to ease the pain. Puppy chew toys specially designed for the teething phase can help soothe sensitive gums. You can even freeze many varieties for extra relief!

Puppies also chew to explore their surroundings, so providing them a safe chew toy will encourage positive chewing habits that will last a lifetime (and help keep their teeth clean!).


Reason #5: Hunger

Humans aren’t the only ones who act differently when they’re hungry! In fact, hunger is one of the top reasons why dogs chew. This doesn’t mean you should give your dog a second dinner every time they start chewing, but there are ways to help sustain them from morning to evening.

Consider feeding your pooch smaller amounts throughout the day instead of one large amount. You can also occupy them with a long-lasting chew treat during the day.


Reason #6: Zoomies

Chew time often follows play time! The zoomies typically involve quick sprints across the room, sudden barking, and even a quick spell of chewing everything in sight. Your furry friend likely has some excess energy they need to release through playing, running, or chewing!

The zoomies are often harmless, but if your dog starts chewing off-limit items, try tiring them out with an extra play session.


🐶 Related: Dog Zoomies: 5 Reasons Pups Go Wild!


Create Paw-sitive Chewing Habits

french bulldog chewing on basted blast dog chew toy

Now that you know the answer to “why do dogs like to chew,” you know this habit doesn’t have to be an act of destruction! In fact, the “solution” to dog chewing can be as simple as providing your dog an appropriate chewing outlet so they can do what they love in a healthy way.

Finding the Right Chew Toy

Chews-ing the perfect chew toy can seem like a big decision—especially with so many options to pick from! Consider these factors next time you’re shopping for your dog:

  • Size: It's important to choose the right size chew toy for your dog. If you live in a multi-dog household, select chew toys for your largest chewer. In other words: small dogs can chew larger chew toys, but large dogs should never chew a toy intended for small dogs.
  • Chewing style: Even dogs of the same breed or size can have different chewing styles! If you need a chew toy for your puppy, check if they still have their puppy teeth or developed any permanent adult teeth. If they have any adult teeth, it’s time to graduate to materials intended for active chewing (typically more durable materials like rubber or nylon) instead of soft materials intended specifically for the teething phase. Follow our chew style guide to better understand which strength your dog needs.
  • Toy shape/function: Chew toys come in a wide variety of shapes and textures for different functions, such as teeth-cleaning nubs, easy-hold paw grips, and multi-textured chewing ends.
  • Flavor: Whether your dog’s preferences lean savory or sweet, there are plenty of flavors to choose from. Flavorful chew toys will entice your dog and keep them chewing and chewing!

Our Dog Product Finder will help you pick the best chew toy for your dog!


Find Your Dog’s Next Chew Toy


Happy Chewing!

Once you understand why dogs chew, it’s important to provide your furry friend all the essentials! Chew toys not only help discourage destructive behaviors, but they also deliver lots of fun! With the right tools, chewing can become the best way to enrich your dog’s life and strengthen your bond moving forward.

Did you know that healthy chewing habits can save lives? Nylabone Cares donates high-quality, durable chew toys to shelters dogs, service animals, and other canines to promote healthy, non-destructive chewing habits. This helps satisfy their natural urge to chew and teach positive habits so they ultimately find—and stay—in their forever homes!


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