One piece of advice that us trainers are always giving to our clients is “give your dog something to do.” Whether it’s getting them accustomed to a crate, settling on a tether or not bothering your family while you are eating, there are many occasions when giving your dog something to keep him busy is a key to harmonious living. If that distraction also satisfies his natural urge to chew, it’s even better!
The gold standard is the Kong, which I wrote a previous blog about using. In terms of other chews, my dog tends to find most non-food toys, such as bones made of nylon or rubber pretty uninteresting, and I’m not crazy about him ingesting hunks of synthetic material. I tend to stay away from rawhide as much of it is imported, may be treated with chemicals and can potentially be a choking hazard for dogs. Bully sticks have always been a favorite, but my Lab can vanish one in under a minute. They seem to work better for puppies and smaller dogs. Many of them are also pretty smelly! I’ve also given antlers a try, but my dog is only moderately interested in them, and they are really hard and I’ve heard of several dogs breaking teeth on them.
I have recently come across a chew, however, that my dog and I absolutely love! It’s called a Himalayan Dog Chew. It is a bone made from only yak and cow milk, salt and lime juice. That’s it. No mystery chemicals or even mystery animal parts! The best part is that they last! If my dog eats it in one sitting, which is rare, it takes up to 45 minutes. They aren’t much more expensive than a bully stick, but in our house, they last much, much longer.
I also recently learned of a neat trick for what to do once the dog has chewed the Himalayan bone down until there’s just an inch or two left. I used to just throw that piece away or my Lab would swallow it whole and then sometime in the night, when his stomach decided that a piece that big wasn’t going to be digested, he’d throw it up. Lovely. Now, though, I take that last chunk and throw it in the microwave for a minute or two. The bone puffs up and gets fragrant (sort of like a grilled cheese) and crunchy. It takes all of the patience that my dog can muster while we wait for it to cool enough to eat.
A conversation with your vet is always a good idea about the pros and cons of various chews for your particular dog. For example, your vet may not recommend using a milk-based chew if your dog has a sensitive tummy or may warn you away from antlers if your dog is a really aggressive chewer. Finding a chew that suits your dog can be a challenge, but we seem to have found a good solution for our dog.