Why Do Dogs Chew On Wood? How To Make Them Stop

Dogs are avid chewers. They can chew on all kinds of materials. Even materials that we would deem inedible. But why do dogs chew on wood?

Chewing wood is a behavior commonly seen in dogs that are going through teething. Dogs that feel anxious or bored can also be found chewing on wood. There are also some nutritional deficiencies and diseases that can be a reason for this behavior.

Why Do Dogs Chew On Wood?

There are many reasons why a dog would chew on wood. The dog may just like the taste and texture of wood. But it also could be a sign of some serious medical issue.

Dental Health And Teething

The most common reason for puppies chewing on wood is to relieve the pain that comes from teething. Puppies start teething at around the age of 3 weeks, but it could be later for some. During teething, the baby teeth fall out and get replaced by permanent ones, during which the gums get inflamed. Chewing is a good way to relieve the discomfort of inflammation.

Gum inflammation can also be present in older dogs that are experiencing some dental issues. These dogs can also be found chewing on hard surfaces such as wood to relieve the pain.

Stress-Related Chewing And Separation-Related Chewing

Other reasons for dogs chewing on wood is separation anxiety. There are some breeds of dogs that are more exposed to developing this condition. For example, Beagles get separation anxiety as they are very loyal and affectionate dogs that need a lot of attention.

“Separation anxiety happens when a dog that’s hyper-attached to their owner gets super-stressed when left alone.”, says Dr. Amy Flowers. These dogs will become clingy and show attention seeking behavior. They will start barking, peeing, and pooping everywhere, and chewing on all the furniture. Dogs can also develop anxiety when they are exposed to loud voices, strange people, or changing their environment.

Natural Instinct And Boredom-Induced Chewing

Some dogs are naturally inclined to chew compared to other dogs. This is especially common in retrievers and hunting dogs used to use their mouths to grab things. The fact that dogs come from wolves also gives them the instinct to chew on things.

Another reason why dogs gnaw on wood is boredom. Dogs can get bored if they don’t get enough attention from their owners. Besides chewing and destroying the furniture, they will also lick and over-groom themselves, often damaging their fur. This is why dogs should have something to do while you are not present.

Nutrient Deficiency

Feeding an improper diet to your dog might lead it to become deficient in certain nutrients. This deficiency can often be a cause for chewing inedible objects like wood. 

Due to a nutritional deficiency, some dogs can develop a condition called Pica which causes them to eat inedible and harmful objects. This condition can also be caused by intestinal parasites. “Pica is also considered an attention-seeking behavior and can result from lack of socialization with humans or other dogs.”, says Dr. Barri J. Morrison.

A specific subset of Pica, called Lignophagia, describes a situation where a dog only wants to eat and chew on wood. Contacting a veterinarian is a must in this situation.

Are Certain Dog Breeds More Prone To Wood-Chewing?

There are certain breeds of dogs with wood-chewing tendencies. For example, Labradors stop chewing late in their development and oftentimes continue throughout their life. Other breeds that have this tendency to chew on wood include the Chihuahua, Border Collie, Jack Russell, Golden Retriever, and Beagle.

Are There Health Risks Associated With Dogs Chewing On Wood?

There are a few health risks that can significantly harm a dog if it tends to chew and digest wood. These can include choking, digestive issues, and splinters, among others.

Harmful Bacteria

Wood is inedible and has no nutritional value. In some cases, it can get infested with bacteria and fungi. This usually happens to wood fallen on the ground or wood that has rotted away. If a dog chews on this infested wood, it can get infected by these bacteria and fungi and develop a life-threatening infection. 

Affecting Dental Health

Although the dog wood chewing behavior can happen because of dental issues, it can also cause them in some ways. Woods like walnut, oak, and ebony can be extremely hard. If a dog tries to chew on them it may result in breaking a tooth. To determine the risk of this, you should know how strong of a bite your dog has. So let’s say you have a Belgian Malinois, you need to know how strong is a Belgian Malinois bite and if it can break the wood it’s chewing. If not, it might end up breaking its tooth. Besides breaking teeth, dogs can also damage their gums by chewing on wood.

Choking Hazard

Dogs can chew aggressively and cause parts of the wood to break off and get stuck in their breathing tube. It is more common in dogs that chew as a result of anxiety or stress. This can lead to the dog choking which is a life-threatening situation. It will require immediate treatment by a vet.


Small pieces of wood, called splinters, can break out and cause significant damage to the dog. They can embed in, or perforate the mouth, esophagus, or intestine. This causes a lot of symptoms like pain, blockage, and infections which require immediate surgery by a veterinarian surgeon. This will cost you a lot. Such digestive issues can occur if a dog eats uncooked rice or other inedible things.

Should I Consult A Veterinarian If My Dog Chews On Wood?

There are indeed situations where veterinary behaviorists are needed to deal with the wood-chewing habits in dogs. In some situations, if the dog doesn’t show many symptoms, observation should be fine

In other cases, where the dog is seen showing serious symptoms, a visit to the vet is inescapable. Even if the dog has no serious symptoms, the fact that the behavior is constantly occurring should worry you and cause you to ask for help.

Vets are also needed for all the complications that occur after the dog chews on the wood, especially if it breaks its teeth. In fact, Dr. Lorraine Hiscox says that:

If the pulp is exposed, root canal therapy or extraction of the tooth are the only treatment options. Leaving the tooth without treatment is not a good idea, as infection will have direct entry through the fracture site and a more serious infection is likely to occur

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Chewing On Wood?

To get your dog to stop chewing wood, you can offer it a chew toy to chew instead. Besides that, proper training, exercise, and nutrition are important to avoid the behavior altogether. But there are a few other things you can try to deal with a wood-chewing dog.

Preventative Measures

If you want to know how to stop dogs from chewing on wood, you first need to dog-proof your house and yard. Go through your yard and pick up any branches, twigs, and other non-edible items found on the ground. This will prevent your dog from getting its chompers on it in the first place.

You can also restrict the dog from entering certain areas of the house by setting up barriers in places where you don’t want it to enter.

Improve The Diet

A malnourished dog will be tempted to chew on wood. Because of that, you need to keep up with its nutritional requirements and prevent this behavior. 

Make sure you feed a diet that is full of protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fatty acids. Avoid diets with lots of carbs and artificial ingredients. Always make sure you are giving the proper formula depending on the breed, size, and activity level of the dog. The dog food you buy should be made by a respectable company like Pedigree or Purina.

Obedience Training And Positive Reinforcement

Preventing a dog from wood chewing requires proper training methods. Obedience training means teaching a dog to obey the command “no” and “drop it” whenever it gets its mouth around some wood.

Yelling or hitting the dog won’t help you stop this unwanted behavior. It can only make the behavior worse due to negative reinforcement. Good behavioral modification techniques for wood-chewing dogs include positive reinforcement. This is done by giving treats and praises whenever the dog does well helps much more. Training should be consistent and done every day to get the best results. Professional dog trainers can also help you in this situation.

Buy Chew Toys

If your dog is going through the process of teething, or simply wants to chew a lot, you can help it by getting some dog toys for wood chewers. 

Make sure you choose a high-quality chew toy for the dog to avoid any complications. If a dog swallows a string from a rope chew toy it can experience a lot of digestive problems. Puzzle toys are a great option for dogs because they also help with mental stimulation. If you can, get more toys so the dog will have a variety to choose from.


To know how to stop dogs from chewing on wood, you first should know how much energy your dog has. Dogs with excess energy are more prone to destructive chewing behavior.

Depending on the breed and size of the dog, the needed amount of daily exercise can vary from 30 minutes to 2 hours a day. You can exercise a dog by taking it for a walk or taking it jogging or hiking. Some dogs also like to swim and others really enjoy playing games like fetch. This will provide an energy release and prevent chewing behaviors.

Chewing Deterrents

Sometimes the only way to stop a dog from chewing on wood is to spray some chewing deterrent on your wooden furniture. You can make your own chewing deterrent by mixing one cup of vinegar and one cup of apple cider. Then, put it in a plastic spray bottle which you can use to spray the deterrent. You can reapply this spray every day for up to four weeks. During this time, use proper obedience training to teach the dog that chewing the wood is wrong.

Set Up A Pet Camera

Wood chewing and dogs’ dental health are connected, as chewing wood severely damages the teeth. So buying and setting up a pet camera will help you keep an eye on your dog and prevent it from damaging its teeth.

A pet camera will also be of high value in monitoring a dog with separation anxiety. Some of these cameras also allow you to speak through a mic and give vocal commands to the dog. Some pet cameras also have a remote-control laser dot that can help redirect your dog’s attention.

What Wood Is Safe For Dogs To Chew On?

If you want to give your dog wood to chew on, choose a soft and durable wood. These include woods like pine, cedar, apple, cherry, and maple. Among these, some can even bring benefits if a dog is actively chewing on them. 

Dog chewing on a fallen branch

Why Do Dogs Chew On Wood? – Final Thoughts

Chewing wood is a behavior often found in dogs and drives their owners crazy. It can happen as a result of teething and problems with dental health. Anxious and nutrient-deficient dogs can also show this behavior. This behavior is also more common in certain breeds, especially hunting breeds.

By chewing wood, dogs expose themselves to harmful fungi and bacteria. They can also choke or get splinters from small pieces of wood that break off. It also affects its dental health as it can break a dog’s tooth.

To prevent your dog to chew on wood, you should clean up your yard from wood. You should feed the dog a proper diet and give it enough exercise to spend its energy. Obedience training can help a lot as well. You can also get some chew toys and set up a pet camera to keep an eye on your dog.


Does lemon juice stop dogs from chewing?

Yes, you can use lemon juice as an effective chewing deterrent for dogs. You can mix half cup of lemon juice with half a cup of water and store them in a plastic spray bottle.

Is it OK for dog to chew sticks?

The same reason why dogs chew on wood is the same as why they chew on sticks. However, the dangers are also the same. Dogs can damage their teeth, choke, and get exposed to many infections due to this behavior.

What wood is toxic to dogs?

There are many wood types that can have a toxic effect on dogs. These include woods like red maple, orange, cherry, wisteria, yew, cacao, avocado, jasmine, and more. Instead of this, use pet-friendly wood alternatives like pine or apple.

More dog behavior resources

Here are a few other resources talking about other unusual behavior in dogs and how to deal with them.

You can find a lot more information on weird dog behaviors on our site Dogisa!

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