Dog Eating Wood: How To Make Them Stop

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Dog chewing on piece of woodDogs chew on wood because they like chewing on things. That’s why you see dogs play with chew toys, and why chew bones and treats are so popular with dogs. 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.

  1. Small pieces of wood can lodge splinters in the mouth and esophagus, causing damage.
  2. Large pieces of wood can cause even more significant problems, including perforated intestines or stomach lining, and obstruction of your dog’s bowels.

How Do I Keep My Dog From Eating Wood?

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The key to keeping 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.

Clear The Yard

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 firewood pile, it’s essential 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

Provide them with something else to chew. Try different chew toys until you find one that he or she likes. Leave a couple out in the yard, and encourage your dog to chew on the toy instead of wood. With time, they’ll hopefully get used to leaving the wood alone.

My Dog Won’t Stop Eating Wood

If they don’t stop the behavior, you may want to consider:

  • Add something to the wood that will keep them away (bitter apple, or the sprays used to keep dogs off furniture).
  • Use negative reinforcement – say “no” as they approach or start eating wood
  • Shake a can filled with coins above their head when they go near the wood
  • Put them in their “bad room” and ignore them for a while if they get a hold of a piece
  • Reward them with treats for good behavior

These are all ways to let your dog know that wood is bad for them.

Video: How To Stop Dogs From Chewing Wood

This three-minute video goes into more detail about some causes for this bad habit and additional tips for getting your dog to stop eating wood.

More Tips For Your Wood Loving Dog

If these solutions still don’t work, you might consider a behavior modification dog training class or training collar. And if your dog does swallow a wood piece, they might choke or get an upset stomach. So you will want to be prepared by learning how to give CPR to your dog and how to cure their upset stomach.

Has your dog eaten wood before?

About The Author:

Alex holds BS degrees in Management Science from the University of California at San Diego, and Computer Science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is the co-founder of Canine Journal and his first dog was a Dalmatian named Domino. Alex and Domino quickly became best pals as dog walks, hikes, an uncanny sense of what Alex was going through at any particular time, and other canine adventures enhanced Alex's life and well-being.

Alex's experience as a parent to several dogs since then have given him over 15 years of canine insight and perspective that he brings to Canine Journal. While he's been versed in everything from basic dog training techniques, canine diet and health, to pet insurance, the takeaways he holds most dear are the inspiration to live every moment to the fullest, and start each day with gusto and a tail wag.

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June 22, 2020 8:11 am

Not sure how old this article is. Don’t see a date.

Anyway, I just want to say that there exists in this world what I call “corporal punishment” dogs. The ONLY way they seem to learn is from physical punishment…’negative’ punishment at the higher level. Bear in mind, I’m not referring to ‘beatings’ in the harsh sense of that word. I use a flyswatter. The use of a flyswatter is not damaging to the dog, but causes enough ‘sting’ to get their attention. The end result is greatly diminished ‘bad behavior’ of the kind that costly kind that puts his health or my furniture or other household items at risk. Easy admonition by simply picking up the flyswatter. The dog is not afraid of me. He’s afraid of the flyswatter. Stick-chewing is one of his big problems with a big backyard that has mature trees that ‘shed’. The only way to protect him from both the dangers of the sticks and the flyswatter is to remove the sticks all the time. Difficult to do when I’m old and not always feeling well enough. He has birds and squirrels he can chase through the yard, lots of toys and ‘chewy’ things, and I spend time with him…not a lot, admittedly, but the best I can do. So I offer this for what it’s worth.

March 18, 2020 1:59 pm

Tractor Supply sells wood stick chewable sticks. I thought it was a good alternative to the Nyla Bones. I only see little wood balls , not splinters. My husband says not to give them to our dog either that they could even be toxic whether or not they splinter. Your advice would be much appreciated.

February 23, 2020 9:17 pm

I have a Service Dog that is with me 24/7, he’s a bit over 2 years old. He chews the WOODEN FENCE. Being disabled I cannot stand at my back door the entire time he’s out there doing this business. But I play with him two sometimes 3 times a day, as in literally going outside and throwing his frizbie so he gets plenty of exercise. I’m scared for his safety with him eating wood. I have scolded him when he broke off a piece and I found him lying down and chewing on it. I don’t see him ingesting it, but I don’t see pieces of it lying around so I must assume he’s eating it. What more can I do? Put a muzzle on him when he goes outside? thanks

Apiffany Gaither Billings
February 25, 2020 4:06 pm
Reply to  Carol

Hi Carol, we would suggest looking into a wireless fence and setting the boundary within a couple of feet in front of the wooden fence so he cannot reach the fence without the collar beeping. Although it is a pricier alternative, it is less expensive than replacing a fence, going to the vet for foreign body ingestion, and possibly having your dog escape from your yard. A less expensive alternative would be to purchase a yard stake and make sure he cannot reach the fence line when he is on it. You can periodically let him out without using the stake to see if he still eats the wood. If he does, use the stake for another week or so and then try to let him out again without it.

January 25, 2020 8:14 am

I take my dog in the yard to do his business, morning or night , hot or cold. When he is done,goes and lays down chewing on a twig and won’t get up until he feels like it. This is frustrating, we rescued him as a puppy. He is now 7 months old.

January 11, 2020 6:36 pm

Telling them no is actually called positive punishment because you are adding something aversive that will reduce the future frequency of the behavior. Negative reinforcement is when you remove something aversive, so if the pup is in the crate (if they want out) and you let them out.

February 3, 2020 7:26 pm
Reply to  Kasey

That’s correct, assuming the dog knows what the word no means. He might just think no is the word you shout before you look angry, not really understanding why you’re angry. Yelling no usually just teaches a dog to fear you or understand that you are unpredictable and not to always be trusted.

November 9, 2019 7:14 pm

My female German Shepherd is chewing on the baseboards of my home and when outside unattended she is eating the privacy fence around the . I have tried finding toys for her to chew on and she is completely not interested. We buy her misc bones but the huskey female we have generally runs off with them. Need advice.

January 11, 2020 6:39 pm
Reply to  LaJuan

Limit her access to things she is chewing. Then bring her in proximity to the area and provide her treats for not chewing. It’s a long process, but it will work. The problem is that when she’s unattended, she has free access, so nothing to stop her.

So frustrated
November 3, 2019 1:22 pm

My rescue dog aggressively chews trees in my yard. I have been walking him outside on a leash for a month and redirected him from the trees. I let in in the yard without a leash and we was good for over a week. Today he started chewing again. Once he starts, he can’t be redirected by anything, including a hose! Spray deterrents and hot sauce have zero effect.

November 9, 2019 2:15 pm
Reply to  So frustrated

I am no expert by any means, but I have a problem chewer, too — what’s worse is that she EATS a lot of random things. My trainer has told me more than once that she needs LOTS of activity, like full days at doggie daycare, getting out her roughhousing urge at dog parks, and even trying agility training. Also, because at 2 years she is still something of a puppy, she says that it may abate with time — but in the meantime, it can be nightmarish. Have you considered wrapping the tree trunks with sheet metal collars?

Linda Davis
October 27, 2019 8:41 am

why does my dog eat her pop after she gets threw Poppin?

November 23, 2019 7:58 pm
Reply to  Linda Davis

Our new puppy does this as well would love to know more myself.

Sarah Caci
March 3, 2020 1:17 am
Reply to  Magbtrfly

I was told to give them an inch or two of banana, either as a treat or with their food, this changes the smell of the stool and then they stop eating it. It’s worth a shot if you are still experiencing this issue 🙂

December 16, 2019 4:47 pm
Reply to  Magbtrfly

I was told by my vet that the food they’re eating is not sufficient for their diet. My does that too. I’ve changed the food and it has helped a lot

Cathy Austin
August 28, 2019 9:37 pm

Please help, how do I get my two month old puppy to stop chewing on the wood mulch that is all around my yard. It would take a dump truck to get rid of all of it and it’s way to big of an area to spray anything. Any suggestions?

Mireille Barbora
April 17, 2020 8:14 am
Reply to  Cathy Austin

I have the same issue with my 7 month old goldendoodle. How did you fix the problem?

November 2, 2019 9:48 am
Reply to  Cathy Austin

This is a problem we have with our young Caviler King Charles. Any suggestions

November 23, 2019 7:59 pm
Reply to  Gary

I would love any suggestions myself

Adam Hawryszko
June 22, 2019 10:34 pm

I have a bullarab/great dane. She is a wonderul dog, but really destroys the backyard with her random hole digging. They are only tennis ball size holes and some double that. But I am starting to get a little grief from my landlord and I wouild hate to be evicted and try and relocate. I know its her natural instict to be this way, especially as she is a hunting dog. But does anyone have any experience with these kind of breeds, to maybe help lessen the amount of hole digging going on. I walk her and run her alot. She has plenty of toys to chew on and play with. Im just not sure what else to do. I have even put her poo in the holes and ash from the fire. She still just moves it and continues to dig. Much appreciate any advice given.

December 16, 2019 4:50 pm
Reply to  Adam Hawryszko

My sister had this problem. She filled the holes back up and put red pepper on top. She said they moved on digging to other places and she kept up filling and peppering and they finally quit. I’m going to have to do the same. Mine is starting the digging

November 9, 2019 2:18 pm
Reply to  Adam Hawryszko

Maybe take her to dog parks or hikes/outdoors where she can get out that digging urge harmlessly?

Lisa M
May 18, 2019 9:08 am

That’s not negative reinforcement dude.. The procedures you described are punishment.

June 15, 2019 1:51 pm
Reply to  Lisa M

Negative reinforcement IS punishment. It’s the opposite of positive reinforcement. Agreed not the ideal way to train.

October 2, 2019 7:32 pm
Reply to  Jeff

No friend. It’s not. Reinforcement means that the behavior will continue and punishment means that the behavior will decrease. Negative means you’re taking something away and positive means you’re giving them something. Yelling no or hitting someone is positive punishment IF it actually decreases the behavior in the future. Don’t post online about things you don’t know about.

October 19, 2019 7:24 am
Reply to  Heather

Nicely said Heather. Not understanding pos/neg reinforcement/punishment is one tool I use to determine if a website’s information is likely to be accurate. Unfortunately this article not only gets negative reinforcement wrong but also states “Put them in their “bad room” and ignore them for a while if they get a hold of a piece”. What terrible advice.

May 17, 2019 10:11 am

My adult American bulldog has an incessant desire to lick/chew on dead tree stumps. He foams at the mouth! Is there something in tree stumps he needs or enjoys?

Kimberly Alt
May 20, 2019 8:42 am
Reply to  Lynne

It’s probably a nutrient deficiency that your dog is experiencing. Speak with your vet about his diet and see if there is an element he needs more of. It could also just be that your dog is bored and wants to lick/chew on the stumps.

May 8, 2019 1:10 pm

My Yorker is eating mulch chips..

Kimberly Alt
May 9, 2019 8:27 am
Reply to  Msmithg

Your dog could be lacking a nutrient, but more commonly, dogs do this because they are bored or curious. Try to keep your dog away from mulch. Ingesting wood can cause issues for your dog.

jason weeks
March 23, 2019 12:33 pm

I have a 4 year old dog he is rot/red healer/blue healer/pit and golden retiever. I know a big mix… he is chewing the vinyl siding on my house and my wood porch. What can I do to get him to stop chewing on these things.

February 18, 2019 6:27 pm

My dog smokie a gray doberman/pit mix has chewed the back of my china cabinet, the legs on my desk, the wood frame on the door, the baby gate. I’ve tried the sprays that are suppose to discourage, the can filled with coins. It doesn’t work. Please help.

Mary chambers
January 5, 2019 11:17 pm

I have an older 10 year dog recently he srarted chewing on our deck..wood and nails. We have had this deck fir at least 4 years. I gave ny granddog she is 3 so i need to watch her close when she is outside. What should i do to keep the older dog to wuit chewing on my deck. He will not play with toys. Help please

December 30, 2018 2:55 pm

My daughter had a Minnie Doberman . Her dog was okay and they turned her lose with her male dog they went outside and she said that afternoon she was bleeding on the bottom and didn’t look good. She said she thought she was chewing on the fence well she called vet and friend they told her what to do the dog last night ended up dying .

November 13, 2018 7:00 pm

My 1yr old Malamute is eating the wood mulch in the yard. We have a large area on a hill and it is covered with mulch. We are looking for an alternate ground cover that will work on the hill and or trying to get her to stop eating the mulch. She has had GI issues and is on a hypoallergenic diet for her stomach and this is not helping. She has toys, a large yard to run etc. When she is eating a piece of wood and sees us she runs away to finish it. We are at our wits end with this. Any ideas for alternative ground cover for a large hill or some way to get her to stop would be great.

Kimberly Alt
November 14, 2018 9:53 am
Reply to  Chris

Oh no, that is not good! Have you considered replacing the mulch with river rock? You could also go to Home Depot/Lowes/Menards/etc. and ask them for recommendations. In the mean time, I suggest not letting your dog outside unless she is supervised or she is on a leash/stake to prevent her from eating the mulch. Eating wood can be life threatening to dogs. She may enjoy snacking on it but she has no idea what it could do to her.

Gill Watson
November 8, 2018 11:42 am

My 7 month old German Shepherd has started to strip the bark off my young tree. and the demolish the branches from it…. any ideas how to stoop this or if its dangerous?

Kimberly Alt
November 8, 2018 1:04 pm
Reply to  Gill Watson

Hi Gill, did you read the article and watch the video? It has information regarding your comment. 🙂

December 9, 2018 5:04 pm
Reply to  Kimberly Alt

I have a golden retriever with a similar problem. The article recommends removing the wood, but my dog will dig up roots and strip trees. The removal solution is not effective. In addition, negative reinforcement becomes a game when he is left outside since he is getting attention. Are there other resources to access to solve this problem?

Kimberly Alt
December 10, 2018 10:31 am
Reply to  Frank

I am not a trainer, but my next suggestion would be to only allow the dog outside when he is on leash with you so you can prevent him from digging up and eating wood.

Cassie Mitchell
October 26, 2018 5:06 pm

My great danes wont stop eating my porch they have toys treats bones but they prefer the porch my last great dance did the same treated un treated it doesnt matter but they dont eat sticks unless were at my moms out of town plus the lick my floor vent all the time would both of these fall under pica how do vets treat it

August 13, 2018 1:34 pm

We have two small mix-breed puppies. Brothers nearly 3 months old. They are what we are calling Yorki-Poo-Chiweenies. But our flowerbeds all around the house from the previous owner are pine or bark mulch. It seems nearly impossible to keep them away from it. The runt, Gus 4.5 lbs at 3 months is obsessed with these little hard pieces of wood. We’ll see him emerge from flower bed trotting away with a chunk of wood in his mouth. It’s keep-away at this point while he runs and we try to catch that little mug. But they are constantly supervised while outside. We are going to try the can of coins or other noise-making devices.

October 13, 2018 11:20 pm
Reply to  Chris

Mulch is especially dangerous for animals to ingest as it is chemically treated and/or artificially colored.

Jo lorns
June 30, 2018 6:55 am

My dog Springer will just chews wood for attention. It’s a ‘i will chew wood until you take me for wallies!’
That’s just what poppy is like though!

June 24, 2018 7:09 am

Why would a nine year old dog suddenly start to eat sticks? They have always liked to destroy a stick, but never eaten them. Could this be a medical issue or behavioural? We are trying to find out why suddenly after 9 years she has started to eat them?!
Many Thanks

Kimberly Alt
June 25, 2018 10:10 am
Reply to  Emily

Hmmm that’s very interesting. I would suggest calling your vet and asking. I would think they should be able to answer your question over the phone without paying an office visit fee and then you can assess whether a trip to the vet is necessary or not. I have called my vet before with questions and she is always great about helping me assess my dog’s health and determine if an appointment should be made.

Meredith Sena
April 5, 2018 3:38 pm

My 11 month old hound/lab mix loves to chew on my furniture and has destroyed a few pieces. I have used that bitter apple stuff and it doesn’t phase him. What else can I do to stop this? Chew toys only last so long before he goes back to my furniture.

May 17, 2018 11:43 pm
Reply to  Meredith Sena

Those “antlers” you can buy work really well for my two puppies. A year old husky and a 1 year 2 month great pyrenees – we’ve had them both since they were young pups. They can’t easily eat or swallow them like every plastic or nylon toy, they can’t splinter like wood, and they don’t cause diarrhea like himalayan yak chews or bully bones or rawhide. I also recommend buying yourself a dozen “Kongs” and stuffing them with kibble, whole milk unsweetened plain yogurt and peanut butter and only feeding your dog with Kongs from now on. Make your dog work for the food you give him, and freeze the Kongs; it takes them 45 minutes to eat the frozen food out of them and that’s 45 minutes of peace and quiet for you. Your dog will be tired from working at it and chewing on it. Do this for a few weeks and all of the sudden the chewing and destructive behaviors dissipate. Walk your dog so he isn’t bored. A tired dog is a well behaved dog. Good luck!

Jennifer c.
March 25, 2018 10:12 am

My chihas started chewing on wood right after her puppy’s were born. She use to never chew on anything. Now destroys everything. Mostly wood. Her and her 6 month old pupps are spoiled, have plenty of chew toys, bones, etc..but yet only wNt to chew the wood off of the bottom of the house, off the trees in the yard..and it’s getting rediclious.