Can Dog Chews Calm my Dog?
Updated: Jun 26, 2021
If you are dealing with dog separation anxiety, a long-lasting dog chew can help.
While severe cases of separation anxiety should be addressed by a team of training and veterinary professionals, a dog that is mildly concerned with being left alone can often be soothed with a long-lasting dog chew – particularly if your dog is a puppy.
Why Do Dogs Chew?
Chewing, as with digging, barking, and chasing, is a natural dog behavior. Our dogs are hardwired to engage in these behaviors, especially if they are bored and looking for something to do. This is also the case in dogs that are anxious. You’ll often see anxious dogs with their head to the ground as they sniff, or chewing on things around the home. Engaging in these natural behaviours is soothing for dogs.
Besides recognising that chewing is soothing based on our own observations, studies have looked at what happens in a dog’s brain when they chew as well. When a dog chews on something, it triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins cause feelings of euphoria and calmness, and are produced in your dog’s brain. Thus, chewing on things feels good to dogs! It’s naturally reinforced by their own brain, and can promote a calmer and less-anxious dog.
Chewing also promotes a healthier dental environment, which is important for our dogs – especially if you are not brushing their teeth daily. Do note that whilst it is an important supplement to brushing, it does not replace it entirely.
Many owners are frustrated by a dog’s need to chew. However, rather than trying to curb their chewing, you should instead focus on how you can give your dog an appropriate outlet for their natural chewing instinct.
Lasting Chews Can Help Anxiety in Dogs
Because chewing releases the “feel-good” endorphins in a dog’s brain, the act of chewing can help your dog to feel less anxious. When the chew lasts longer than a few moments, as in the case of a long-lasting dog chew, the benefits of the process can continue.
Dogs require both physical and mental exercise, and will be much more content and trainable if those needs are addressed. Many dogs become mildly anxious when left alone, especially if their needs are not being met. One way to give your dog some mental enrichment is to give them a long-lasting chew. The act of chewing will help your dog to feel calmer and provide them with an opportunity to be mentally engaged as well.
If your dog displays only mild separation anxiety like whining and don’t enjoy being confined when you leave, it may be the case that your dog is simply bored and mildly stressed, and giving them a chew could help calm them down and change the situation.
Do note that dogs with severe separation anxiety may require intervention from a Certified Separation Anxiety Trainer and/or a veterinary behaviorist, as the combination of separation anxiety protocols and prescribed medications may be needed.
Consider how to safely give dog chews
Chews have to be long-lasting to be beneficial for your dog. If given before you leave, your dog will also come to positively associate that when you leave the home, they get a delicious snack! At the same time, while doing that we have to make sure that reasonable steps are taken to ensure the safety of our dogs.
A variety of holders and toys are available to make chew toys safer for your dog. Most of these work with only bully sticks or yak chews though - and focus only on the safety aspect. If you're looking for more, Lunoji's upcoming ChewDen can not only make a wide variety of chews safer for dogs, but it also helps with slowing them down and preventing any unwanted mess at home from the chewing process.
It’s best to supervise your dog with chews until you are confident of a particular chew paired with a chew holder of your choice is safe for your dog to have while alone for a short period of time.