How to Deal with Your Small Pet’s Chewing

As their owners know, small pets love to chew, even when they shouldn’t be.

Rabbits and other small pets love to chew. In fact, they need to chew. Chewing is a natural instinct and helps keep their teeth healthy. Unfortunately, your pet doesn’t always know what he should be chewing. Not only can this be disastrous for your furniture and carpeting, it can be hazardous to your pet. Wires and other household items can present grave dangers for curious and ever gnawing animals. It is thus very important to get control of your pet’s chewing. Here are some tips for doing just that.

What Not to Chew: In addition to the obvious, such as your furniture, carpeting, and personal belongings, here is a list of what your small pet should not be chewing. All of these items should never be given to a pet, and you should make sure they is securely out of their reach when your small animal is out of his cage.

  • Wires
  • Treated wood
  • Toys with small parts
  • House Plants, as many could be toxic.
  • Fresh wood from fruit trees. This wood is only safe when dead and dried.
  • Household chemicals

Alternative Chewing: The first thing you must do to correct your small pet’s inappropriate chewing behavior is to give them something good to chew. It’s not feasible for your pet to stop chewing altogether; chewing is essential to their health. Try giving your small animal any one or more of the following to chew on:

  • Blocks of untreated wood
  • Cardboard boxes or toilet paper rolls
  • Chew toys with no small parts
  • Hay Tree branches (Willow is best)

Training: Some pets, notably rabbits, can be trained to avoid chewing the wrong things. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it will help curb bad behavior.

  • Hint One: Whenever you notice your rabbit chewing on something he shouldn’t be, you can clap loudly and say, “No!” This will startle your rabbit and he should stop chewing for the time being. Chances are, though, that this will not be a viable long-term solution. Also, make sure you only do it when your rabbit is chewing: scolding your pet after the fact or for prolonged periods of time will only stress him.
  • Hint Two: The most effective way of stopping bad chewing behavior is positive reinforcement. Provide your rabbit with proper chewing materials, such as chew sticks or toys. When he chews these and not your furniture, reward him with praise and a treat. He will soon learn that chewing the right things is a lot more rewarding than chewing wires and carpet.
  • Hint Three: Always be positive and gentle with your rabbit. Yelling will get you nowhere and you should never hit your rabbit. Remember that chewing is natural!