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Dog Eating Wood: How To Make It Stop

Scottish Terrier in a Hollow LogDogs chew on wood because they like chewing on things. That’s why you see dogs constantly playing with chew toys, and why chew bones and treats are so popular with dogs. The problem with wood is that it’s not the best thing for your dog. While it’s fairly common for a dog to chew on wood, especially if you use sticks or small logs to throw to them when you’re playing fetch, your dog will thank you if you help them lay off the wood. Why?

Why is Wood Bad for my Dog?

The problem with your dog eating wood is two-fold. First, small pieces of wood can lodge splinters in the mouth and esophagus, causing damage. Second, large pieces of wood can cause even greater problems, including perforated intestines or stomach lining, and obstruction of your dog’s bowels.

How do I Keep My Dog From Eating Wood?

The key to keep your dog from eating wood, as with anything you don’t want them to ingest, is to keep it away from them. Understandably, keeping wood away can be more difficult given your environment, especially if you live near a forest or wooded area. Basically, you’ll want to go out in your yard or wherever your dog is allowed to roam, and pick up all the sticks, logs, and other pieces of wood you can find. You don’t need to do a perfect job, but the more you clear out the better. If you have a wood pile, it’s important that you cover it up to prevent your dog from accessing it. You might need to tie down the wood cover or tarp to keep your dog from getting to the wood.

Give Your Dog a Chew Toy

Finally, the key to keeping your dog from chewing on any little piece of wood she finds, is to provide them with something else to chew on. In this case, try different chew toys until you find one that she likes. Leave a couple out in the yard, and encourage your dog to chew on the toy instead of the wood. With time, they’ll hopefully get used to leaving the wood alone.

My Dog Won’t Stop Eating Wood

If they don’t, however, and keep going back to your wood pile, for example, you may want to consider adding something to the wood that will keep them away (bitter apple, or the sprays used to keep dogs off furniture). Finally, if you’re present, use negative reinforcement – say no, shake a can filled with coins above their head when they go near the wood pile, or put them in their “bad room” and ignore them for a while. These are all ways to let your dog know that wood is bad for them. Trust us, they will thank you for it.

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About Alex Schenker

Alex's first dog was a dalmatian named Domino, who at the time belonged to his girlfriend (now wife) Michelle. Alex first met Domino in Redondo Beach, California and they quickly became best pals. In North Carolina, a black lab mix, Storm, was added to the family. Domino lived to be 14 years old, and Storm 9, and Alex looks back fondly at all the love and happiness these pups added to his life over the years. Alex now lives happily in Winston-Salem, NC with his wife Michelle and their two dogs Bella (yellow lab mix) and Lily (Brown Carolina dog), and he doesn't take for granted for a second how much meaning canines add to his life, and how many lessons he learns from their love, happiness, and eagerness to live life to the fullest.
  • Danny Bumpkins

    Ya I love that suggestion about picking ups sticks…that would be a snap…if it weren’t for the fact that our 2 labs enjoy our almost 7 acres of thick forest…no can do lol. Maybe if we move to the desert…hmmmm. BTW, we have buckets of fun chew and chase toys, to provide hours of entertainment, and they do love them and play with them as well, and even though they always have access to them, they will still go for sticks given the slightest chance. They require eyes on at all times. Prime example…this morning I left in a hurry, and forgot the usually ubiquitous collection of chuckit balls…fail. I did not last 25 minutes…25 hellish minutes of “no Danny, NO Elie ,,,no sticks let. LET!” …when there are bouncing whirring things other than sticks, they will ignore the sticks…well, Dan the 3 year old will, the jury is still out on the 15 week old monster.

  • Mary Lu N.

    Mine is a 10 month terrier mix. He is eating the furniture. He has plenty of chew toys, but won't stop. Help!

  • GuessAgain

    Pick up all the sticks in your yard?  Are you nuts?  We have a large backyard with over 40 trees that are frequently shedding twigs and branches – who has time to gather every freaking stick off the ground, every freaking day while also working 40+ hours a week AND have any sort of life beyond working and picking up sticks?

    You can train your dog not to eat sticks as sure as you can train your dog to do anything (sit, speak, whatever).  Watch "The Dog Whisperer" (and read Caesar Milan's books) if you really want to learn how to RELATE to dogs (rather than break your back picking up sticks).

  • Linda

    My daughter had a border collie who when he comes to our house constantly jumps into all of our trees and swings once then let's go then repeats. It almost like he has a compulsion to do so. I know the breed are high energy but I've never seen one do this. We have his son who is almost a year old and large for a collie and so far (knock on wood, pun fully intended) he hasn't shown signs of doing the same, although he does love chewing wood to our consternation. He has damaged almost every branch under six feet high on most of our trees in several varieties. We've told him repeatedly no, and even tried getting him to play ball or frisbee which when not in tree chewing mode is his favorite thing to do. Help please!

  • effdog

    Is it just me or is clever canine carrying on conversations with themselves?

  • Chomper

    Hi there,

    I have a ten month old chocolate lab. He eats every stick or piece of mulch at the park. Trainers say keep him on leash or put a muzzle on him but for those that have a lab, you know that wont enable energy to be burnt. The only success I have had is with an e-collar. I know most people will say its cruel, etc. but my little man was at the vet every week and would throw up around the size of a salad bowl quantity of sticks and mulch.

    The e-collar has a shock level of 1-100 and we are on around 15-20. I have tried it on myself. This has been the only way to stop him. If he is chomping in the park, we zap him. Only for that. We had major success but we got him neutered six weeks ago and have regressed so the collar needs to come back on. We initially used it for two weeks, then had around six weeks of no chomping. They will regress and you use the collar for a few days to reinforce the training. Just thought I would share my success story — only problem now is the collar is faulty so I have had to return it and while waiting for a new one my little man is regressing.

    If you use the e-collars properly, they are wonderful. We tried everything else and nothing else worked.

     

    • It’s a secret…

      I was trying to do some research on this topic and stumbled across your question. Your dog sounds like a monsta muncher! ;-)

      How long until you get the new e-collar?

      I'm sure he's a very happy, healthy, spoiled little man, you'll win the fight eventually, so hang in there! (Remember he is, only a puppy.)

  • Vinita

    My dog literally will not quit eating our fence! I've given her toys, sprayed stuff, disciplined her, literally nothing had worked! :( Please help!

    • Bella

      Have you tried giving her a safe wooden toy? Mine loves sticks so I just bought him a toy stick that won't damage his mouth.

      • anita

        Where do you buy those toy sticks?

        • http://www.coverstorymedia.com/ Jeff Butler

          Please use caution with wood sticks. Injuries to gums and digestion issues can come from dogs chewing on wood.

          A good compromise could be the Petstages Dogwood Stick that is only made from 30% wood, is not toxic, and will not splinter.

  • Buffy G.

    My dogs chew the branches off the trees in my yard. They have plenty of toys and play with them but prefer to kill my trees. Any ideas??

     

    • Denice

      Hey Buffy, I feel your pain: Our Rottie puppy (10 months) has been chewing trees — he actually gnawed a palm tree that was about six inches around, down), untold bougainvilleas and any other plant he can get a hold of — for months. We've tried every behavior modification we can read about: new and different toys, positive and negative reinforcement, crating…nothing's helped. If you get any good ideas or find a solution, I'd sure love it if you could share!

  • Finn

    My dog had an episode of colitis, no idea if it was related to eating pieces of small branches that fell in the yard — it was earlier this winter when he wasn't outside as much, but he still could have ingested some wood fiber. But now that it's May we're all outside more and he constantly is grabbing a piece of mulch or a stick and can chew it and swallow some before I can get to him. And I'm constantly picking up the sticks, but they're always falling from our many trees.

    This afternoon he had diarrhea and I can't help but wonder if it is because of swallowing the wood. If I see him with a stick or piece of mulch and rush to grab it from him, he'll chew real fast and swallow some before I can get to him,too.

    I was looking to see what the dangers of all this wood chewing really are.

    • Concerned and extremely frustrated!

      My dog is also doing the same, except it’s all of my wooden furniture, which I can not pick up or keep away! It’s gotten so bad. To the point that she has chewed through the legs of my dinning room chairs!! ( like a rabbit on steroids)

      I’ve been up all morning and night now (2:30am) because she has uncontrollable diarrhea and has also just recently, this evening, started to throw up as well! I also found a small amount of blood in her poo earlier today.

      I desperately need to find a solution… So we can all get some sleep!!

      In desperate need if advice and help!!!!!!

  • brianna

    My dog is a year old. When we leave him home so we can go to work he chews the corners and legs of the coffee table. It is a wood coffee table. The past two days he will not eat or drink and he has been throwing up a lot. He is not the same puppy anymore and it's killing me because I don't know what to do to help him or stop him from doing this so he can eat again. He hasn't ate in two days ); someone please help!!!!!

    • Cindy

      I finally smeared Vicks on all the wooden legs on my furniture. My puppy took one sniff, tried to lick it and never touched any of the furniture again. I even smeared some on the corner of a chair cushion and she left that alone, too.

  • Marcy’s mom

    Although I am a big proponent of letting dogs be dogs, I wish people were not so quick to cast judgment. Our dog, an 8 month old golden retriever, spent $600/night at the vet after severe dehydration and blockage (not allowing her to eat or drink) due to eating wood and gravel. And no, she did not learn from that, she is still chewing away when we are not looking. We are working on training her. I understand that in the wild, nature would have ran its course, and our dog would be no more. I know there are people that are fine with that concept. I am not. So sure, let your dog be a dog, but when it is behaving peculiar, monitor. And if it is causing problems, work with your dog to fix it.

  • Anonymous

    I think sometimes that we worry too much about the things we were never meant to control. Nature has a way of working things out. Everything we do is based not only on what we know, but that what we know is the correct thing. We could very well be wrong.

    Yes, most dogs like to chew on wood. They also like to chew on bones and hooves. It's not just that they gravitate to these kinds of things for the fun of it. There may be something that we don't even know they are getting out of chewing on these kinds of things. I mean, I'm not saying you should feed your dog the mulch or anything, but you might want to relax a bit and just accept the fact that nature leads animals far more than we are ever going to be able to do.

    If your dog is chewing on wood on a regular basis, you might want to consider that he or she may be missing something vital from their diet. Instinct tells them that they can get whatever it is by eating wood. People so the very same thing. Some people eat dirt because they are missing some kind of vital mineral. It's not the most "normal" way to get what they need, but nature guides them to it. Animals are the same way, only they are working purely from instinct rather than from education.

  • Anonymous

    I love my dog. Sure, he's a pain in the butt sometimes. He has no idea what sleeping in means and he really needs to get over the concept that flip flops are his personal chew toys, but he is a pup after all.

    I see him chewing on wood pieces now and then. What I'm about to say is going to sound kind of cruel, so hang on tight. Sooner or later he is going to figure out that he gets splinters from the wood. I've known dogs who constantly chewed on wood. There was simply no stopping them. And they never got sick or even hurt from it. I think we're being a bit overprotective of the animal kingdom. I mean, nature survives better without us than with us and our dogs probably aren't the exception to that rule.

    I live out in the country. The man who used to own this place was a wood cutter. You can't go anywhere in the back of my land and not find a pile of chopped wood. And we have bonfires at least once a week. No, I will not be covering wood piles with tarps or hiding the wood. Yes, I will correct my dog, but I'm not going to stalk him about it. He will figure it out or he won't.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and another thing…

    Dogs love to run around and play. They particularly enjoy playing fetch. This also is not some news flash to anyone even remotely familiar with dogs and dog behavior. To deprive your dog of this game would be somewhat cruel. There is certainly a fine line between being a good owner and being slightly protective. Personally, I think doing something like picking up all the sticks and wood from your yard would into the realm of being mister or miss over protective parent of the decade!

    Having said this, I do think the author makes a good suggestion about wood piles. If you have a pile of wood that is accessible by your dog it is probably a good idea to place a tarp over it. Also, tying it down securely will help to ensure that your dog is not able to get into this.

    Another great idea that the author proposes is to make the wood taste bad. Add something to the wood so that it has a bad taste for dogs. Use something like bitter apple or a specially made spray. I think that there is actually something designed to be put on furniture that is quite effective.

    Of course, if you have a dog, and not a puppy, they have probably not been properly trained to avoid chewing, biting and eating whatever they want. Make no doubt about it, training an old dog will be more difficult than training a puppy. It will require more time and more patience on your part. Remember that their habits (especially the bad ones) have become ingrained and they must be broken. It is not easy for anyone to break ingrained habits. However, it can be done. You simply use the same techniques that you would use with a puppy, but just be even more consistent. You may also want to consider having something like a time out room to reinforce that their behavior is not acceptable.

    Some of the folks who study canine behavior tell us that many times such bad behavior can just be a way for them to get attention. If a dog is cooped up all day in an apartment while their owner is off at work, they may become very lonely and even nervous. Scratching, gnawing and eating the wood furniture may seem to their little dog brain an excellent way of getting some attention, even if it is bad attention. This is especially true if the owner pays little to no attention to the animal even after coming home. Of course this depends on your breed, but the dog may have a lot of pent up energy and they want you to play with them since they are so excited to finally see you. In many cases, just spending a bit more time and attention with them can solve a baffling problem like eating wood.

    It seems kind of silly that a dog would do this for purely psychological reasons. Actually, it almost seems down right human. Maybe they are more like us than we give them credit for?

  • Anonymous

     

    In my opinion the author of this article just scratches the surface of this topic. After all, the big idea seems to be that the best way to prevent your dog from eating wood is to keep it away from them. Presumably the it is wood! I am so grateful for that brilliant flash of blinding insight. Now I can just go around to every room in my house and simply remove all of the wood. The wood cabinets, the wood tables and even the wood furniture. That would be a sure solution, right?

    The problem with this is that it fails to take into consideration the fact that dogs will be dogs. They will continue to do what comes naturally to them. The simple fact is that dogs like to chew. Although the author does mention this, I do not think that enough time or consideration is given to this line of reasoning.

    If your dog is still a puppy, then the main reason they like to chew is because of teething. As a puppy, new teeth coming in can be painful, just like a human baby getting their first few teeth. You remember all of the crying, whimpering and whining, right? Well, it is the same for dogs. Except that a puppy will be a bit more proactive about the situation. They will actually go out and look for things to chew and bite, since this actually gives them some relief.

    The puppy may even attempt to bite anything that is put in front of them. This can include hands and fingers, so be careful! The solution to this problem is good old fashioned training. They need to hear and understand the word no enough that they know what it means. Also, each time you see them bite or chewing on something which is not appropriate (wood, furniture, wires, plants, the baby, etc…) give them a chew toy or something which IS fine for them to bite and chew.

    Doing this enough and being consistent about it will have your puppy trained not to bite, chew or eat wood. I am also convinced that they would only actually EAT the wood if they were not properly trained and allowed to run free to their own devices. Trust me, this is not just a phase that the puppy will grow out of as they become a dog. If it is not nipped in the bud now, it has the potential to become a serious problem, even if they otherwise develop into a mild mannered pet.

    The author suggests going out into your yard and actually removing all of the wood that you can find! I had to read this several times, because at first it seemed like a joke to me. What kind of clown would actually recommend going out into your yard and picking up all the sticks, tree limbs, branches and any other type of wood that could be found so that your dog will not grab it and start eating?

  • Anonymous

    I’d suggest some behavior modification techniques to get your dog to stop eating wood. I’m particularly concerned about the splinters from the wood disrupting the intestinal tract. Instead, why don’t you try some dog behavioral modification techniques by substituting a Kong toy whenever your dog would normally go after the wood. A bit of bitter apple spray on the wood to make it unpleasant may also help.

  • Anonymous

    My dog is doing the same thing – chewing door frames, window frames, the end of tables. Sprays, toys, discipline, walks, training, etc. won’t work. He even has another dog for company. We need real advice because the constant damage, repairs, and necessity to crate him for long hours as a result is hurting me and wearing me down.

  • Anonymous

    My dog is constantly bringing me and/or chewing on pieces of wood in our yard, which backs up to the forest. It’s cute that she’s bringing us gifts, but I’m a little worried about her health. She’s 4, and has been doing this all her life. No issues so far, but should we be discouraging her from chewing on the wood?

  • Anonymous

    There are some techniques that will help your dog stop chewing and eating wood. These include exercising your dog, which is an important part of being a dog owner anyways. If they get enough exercise it will cut down on boredom and anxiety. Take him or her in the back yard and throw a ball around with them. To keep your dog interested in his toys give them a different toy to play with on different days.

    I think these activities help improve their overall health also. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.

    Regards,
    CoolDogs.com.au

  • Anonymous

    I have been looking online like crazy trying to figure out why my dog is eating wood. I read all these things, and you all have it made! Your dog is eating wood outside. My dog has literally eaten my window frame, my door frame and a hole right through my wall. Ate my SHEET ROCK even! I have no idea what’s going on. Is my dog the only insane dog doing this?

    • Anonymous

      No..my insane pooch also eats the sheet rock and door frame, not so much eats it but he seems to be trying to get to the other side really. I have no clue what to do. When we leave for the day we put up barriers but if we forget he’s at it again. He uses his teeth and I also saw it in claws. The first time he did it he puked all over so each subsequent time he just seems to gnaw and spit it out and repeat!! I’m looking everywhere for a solution and can’t seem to find one! He can’t be crated, he’s too big and will go nuts.

  • Anonymous

    My dog likes to chew on my carpet so I got a special one for him.

  • Anonymous

    So not only do I have this problem with my dog chewing wood, but now my 2 year old daughter started chewing on her crib in the same manner!! She just devoured it to the point where we had to put tape and guard rails over the entire thing.

    Watch your dogs and your children!

    • Maori

      Baby see's dog eat wood, wants to copy. Made me laugh. My friend found a frog in her baby's mouth. We noticed the legs sticking out of his mouth. It jumped out when she opened his mouth. A kodak moment, alas no camera.

  • Anonymous

    I think with all the sticks dogs have been chasing for years, we don’t need to go have a cow if a dog chews on a bit of wood. Isn’t it just as bad if they chew on a tennis ball? I think you’re right with the “everything in moderation” approach.

    If your dog is literally eating the wood, that’s not good. But to play catch with them using a stick? Not a problem in my unprofessional opinion – but considering that’s what dogs have been doing for years, I see no reason to panic now.

    • Anonymous

      So what do you do when your dog eats your window frame? And your door frame and eats a hole through the sheet rock to the point where you can see the other room on the opposite side of the wall? My dog is eating my house away day by day. Pretty soon I’ll have no house!

      • Anonymous

        What are you feeding your dog? It sounds like maybe your dog is missing out on some nutrients it’s trying to get from the wood. That, or hire a dog trainer and train him/ her to stop eating your house!

      • Anonymous

        What is more important? Your dog or your house? Either shell out the bucks to have him trained, or shell out the bucks for home repairs. Or get rid of the dog. A properly trained animal can be a joy, otherwise it causes you undue stress. Make a decision.

      • Been there

        I just had to laugh and I laughed so hard i cried!  This has to be a Lab.  Did he go to the fridge and have a beer after all that hard work?  I have had a lot of dogs (mostly shepherds) and I have been around a lot of hunting dogs and the labs seem to be the best at eating anything they can get a hold of.  They like the satisfying crunch and the reward of a job well done even if it wasn't the job you wanted them to do.  My father in law has a Jack Russell that is addicted to nylons and anything made out of nylon material.  Some do it out of spite or boredom or maybe they do it just because they can. I say get that dog a job in demolition.