The internet is rife with dogs caught in the act of chewing everything from antique carpets to yesterday’s spoiled milk bottles.
And as long as the chewing stays relegated to someone else’s dog on the other side of the internet, we can take vicarious enjoyment in scrolling through those photos.
But if you are asking, “Why is my dog chewing carpet,” then chances are you are now experiencing this behavior closer to home.
Believe it or not, a bit of carpet chewing is completely normal dog behavior albeit vexing for the human on the receiving end. It’s not always a sign of illness, as strange a behavior as it may seem.
Reasons Why Your Dog Is Chewing the Carpet
You might be surprised to hear there are several different explanations for this behavior.
Dogs have as many different personality types as people, and getting to the root of why they do anything depends on contributing factors, like:
- Additional symptoms
- Environmental considerations
So, why does your dog chew the carpet, and what can you do to stop it? Let’s explore some of the typical causes below.
We mentioned age as a consideration when diagnosing why your dog chews the carpet. That’s because at around two weeks old, many puppies begin teething.
We belong to two charming dogs, and we remember their teething period well because they ate everything. Blankets, carpets, expensive watch straps, beloved slippers, nothing was safe. We still don’t keep our shoes where the adult dogs can get them; They have us that well trained.
So, if you recently acquired a puppy and suddenly find your carpet riddled with chew marks, don’t rule out teething.
The good news is that while it takes time, they’ll outgrow it. You just have to wait for those adult teeth to come in.
Keep in mind that even though most puppies get rehomed when they are 12 weeks old, they haven’t finished teething. They won’t have their complete set of adult teeth until six months, and the growing-in process can be painful.
Another answer is that they’re bored. Earlier, we talked about environmental considerations, and this is what we meant.
Dogs need lots of sleep, it’s true, but they also enjoy healthy bouts of play and exercise. An under-stimulated dog will find entertainment elsewhere. If you’re lucky, that means they have a mad half-hour racing around the house.
It could equally mean that they settle down with a corner of your carpet and start munching.
Yet another possible answer to the vexed question, “Why does my dog chew the carpet” is that they’re stressed.
All kinds of things trigger stress in dogs, but some of the biggest causes are:
- Loss or death of a loved pet or person
- Move to a new house
- New family member (animal or human)
Typically, stress comes with other indicators, too, like inappropriate elimination (vomiting or defecating) or over-grooming.
So far, in discussing why your dog chews the carpet, we’ve stuck to innocuous things that shouldn’t cause alarm.
But dogs are funny. Sometimes when they start doing something unusual, like chewing the carpet, it’s because they want to communicate something to you. And while it could be stress or boredom, it could also indicate an underlying illness.
Pica, in particular, is a condition that causes your dog to eat things it shouldn’t. And we don’t mean that bit of dried-up gum on the pavement because that’s normal dog behavior.
Dogs with pica compulsively eat things they shouldn’t. The most common and most dangerous is other dogs’ feces. It also includes things like your living room carpet.
How to Stop Your Dog From Chewing the Carpet?
Now that you know some of the reasons behind this behavior, what do you do about it? This depends on the diagnosis.
As discussed, teething runs a natural course. But there are things you can do to discourage inappropriate chewing and make the teething easier for your puppy so that they won’t feel the need to gnaw your carpet.
The best strategy here is a diversionary tactic. Our dogs recommend a rope giraffe dipped in chicken stock (plain, no onion) and frozen. But you don’t need to get that fancy.
A frozen tea towel is an equally good improvised teething toy for your growing puppy.
Rubber kongs stuffed with a favorite treat are another trick you can try, as are plain bagels. All these things give your puppy something to sink their teeth into while preserving your carpets.
If your dog chews the rug out of boredom, then environmental enrichment is the key to breaking the habit. Hiring a dog walker for part of the day might help save the carpet.
Alternatively, consider toys that foster independent play, like puzzle toys. They will break up your dog’s day and give them something to play with that isn’t your carpet.
Crucially, if you catch your dog in the act, divert them with your weapon of choice. Gently turn their head away from the carpet and hand them a chew toy, kong, or another carpet substitute. And remember, at any age, consistency is essential with dogs.
If your dog chews the carpet because they are stressed, don’t panic. This is easily addressable.
Whether it’s a new baby or a new home, one of the best ways to treat canine stress is through pheromone dispensing therapy.
Pheromones are the markers dogs leave on their environment, whether they are rubbing up against chairs, curtains, or chewing your carpet.
Pheromone dispensers release similar synthetic pheromones that help soothe your dog and reduce stress levels by making their surroundings feel more familiar. There are various dispensers available, but the one we like is Adaptil.
So, that’s how to stop your dog from chewing the carpet when the reason is benign. But what do you do if you suspect a more serious condition?
The first thing to do is assess the damage. How much of the carpet has your dog chewed?
If it’s a small amount, don’t panic. Chances are you can safely observe your pet for 24 hours to see if they vomit up the modest amount of carpet they ingested while chewing. Your dog won’t feel comfortable, but they won’t be in danger, either.
However, if the amount of chewed and ingested carpet is substantial, call the vet immediately. It’s never ideal when your dog eats something they shouldn’t, and carpet has some unique properties that make it more dangerous than, say, your child’s marbles.
One of these is that the fibers from the carpet can soften after ingestion and wrap around the intestines. If that happens, your dog may experience an internal blockage, and that has all kinds of side effects.
The other consideration is that carpets pick up all kinds of bacteria. So, a dog that chews and ingests carpet may pick up a bacterial infection. Even if you don’t end up going to the vet, watch for symptoms of infection, like:
- Loss of appetite
Your vet will also be able to examine your dog and tell you if you can induce vomiting and end the episode there or if further medical procedures are necessary.
The Bottom Line
There are any number of reasons why your dog chews the carpet. Some of them are harmless, and some indicate a more serious problem.
Try to diagnose the underlying reason behind why your dog chews the carpet, as this will help you proceed in a way that helps your dog. By now, you’ve probably figured out what’s going on, but, if necessary, don’t hesitate to call the vet. Carpet chewing can pose potential health risks, and the damage to the carpet is a small consideration next to your dog’s health and well-being.