It’s normal for dogs to chew things like sticks, toys, and food, but your collie doesn’t understand the difference between a stick and an antique table leg.
Destructive or compulsive chewing is a big problem for your dog and also for you. It results in destroyed furniture, damaged houses, an angry and miserable you, and a very unhappy dog as well.
So, what should you do if your collie is chewing everything in sight?
Collies can be prone to compulsive and destructive chewing when they aren’t getting enough mental stimulation. The best way to stop your collie from chewing is by redirecting them to more positive outlets and ensuring their physical and mental needs are met.
In this article, we’ll look at collie chewing behaviors, the reasons behind compulsive and destructive chewing, and how you can help manage it with your collie through training and lifestyle changes.
Why do collies chew everything?
Collies may chew things for a number of reasons, though it’s most commonly just a sign that they are bored.
Occasional chewing is not a huge problem, but if your collie is showing signs of compulsive chewing it can be a sign that your collie needs more mental stimulation.
Chewing is normal behavior for dogs but destructive chewing is commonly caused by boredom, stress or the dog just really likes to chew.
Collie chewing furniture
If your collie is chewing your furniture, it may be a sign that your collie is not getting enough mental stimulation and is feeling bored, or that they don’t have (or can’t find) any other toy to play with.
A great short term fix for furniture chewing is to use an anti-chewing spray, which is harmless but foul tasting spray that will prevent your collie from chewing table legs, chair legs, leather sofas, or other furniture.
If your furry friend has nothing else to do, consider getting them a chew toy to play with. Make sure it’s durable since collies can be quite rough with their toys.
If they already have one but it’s stored away somewhere they can’t reach, give them it! Collies love to play and if they can’t find their toys they will just start playing with other things instead.
Collie Puppy Chewing during Teething
Like most mammals, young collies have two sets of teeth when they are born. This process is known as teething and is normal for collies. The teething process lasts for a few months, and your collie should have their full adult set of teeth by around six months old.
When your collie loses their baby teeth and their adult teeth begin growing in, they may experience some discomfort and chew on things to help them deal with it.
You can help your collie deal with their teething by getting them a puppy-safe chew toy. These are softer than regular chew toys to help your collie shed their baby teeth without risking them damaging their fragile teeth and gums.
DIY Collie Puppy teething toy:
If you can’t get your hands on a puppy chew toy, another great option is to make a DIY toy with a frozen washcloth or hand towel.
How to make a DIY teething chew toy for your collie puppy:
- Soak a washcloth in clean water
- Ring out the cloth gently, enough so that it’s still wet but won’t drip
- Put the washcloth in the freezer until it starts to freeze
- After a few hours, remove the cloth and give it to your puppy
This type of DIY teething toy is great for puppies because the cloth is soft enough not to damage their teeth, and the cold temperature helps soothe their gums.
(This type of toy is also great for adult dogs, especially if you freeze a treat inside of it!)
When do collie puppies start teething?
Collies start teething from around 12 weeks old, and the teething process lasts around two months.
During this period, you may notice your collie’s baby teeth falling out. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.
When do collie puppies stop teething?
Collie puppies stop teething once their adult teeth have fully grown in, which usually happens between the ages of five and six months.
Collie chewing rocks or dirt
If your collie is chewing on stones, rocks, dirt, gravel or other materials, it can be a sign of compulsive chewing and needs to be addressed quickly to prevent damage to your collie’s teeth and mouth.
How to prevent your collie from eating rocks or dirt:
1: Remove any rocks, stones, or other material from the area
First and foremost, you should remove any stones or rocks which are causing a problem. With the stones removed you can start working on the underlying problems, but it’s important to make the place safe.
The usual advice for collies is to ignore unwanted behavior, as they often act out for attention and this is the best way to stop them, but in situations like this where what they are doing is potentially harmful, it’s better to try to prevent it from happening.
2: Distract your collie with something else
Although the ultimate goal is to prevent unwanted chewing, it’s much safer for your collie to be chewing on a soft dog toy or a rope than dirt or rocks, which may harm their mouth.
Make sure your collie has plenty of toys and soft things to play with. Collies love tug of war, and usually destructive chewing is a result of lack of stimulation so this kills two birds with one stone, keeping your collie happy mentally as well as satisfying their chewing urges.
3: Address underlying mental stimulation issues
If your collie is chewing rocks, they are seriously in need of something better to do with themselves.
Try giving your collie something interesting to do, like teaching them a trick, playing fetch or tug of war with them, take them a big walk, hide treats around the house for them, or fill up a Kong for them.
Collies need just as much mental exercise as they do physical exercise to keep them healthy and happy.
I wrote a separate guide to collie mental stimulation that might help if you’re looking for more ideas!
Why does my collie chew on my clothes?
Collies love to play, and to your collie a stray sock or glove is just as much fun as a ball or a toy, especially if every time they pick one up you chase them around the room to wrestle it off them.
While it seems harmless, chewing clothing can be dangerous and sometimes it indicates deeper problems for your collie so it’s worth stamping the behavior out when you see it.
To stop your collie from chewing clothing, you need to first work out why they are doing it. Here are some reasons your collie might be chewing your clothes, and how to stop it.
1: Boredom or Compulsive Chewing:
Without adequate mental stimulation, collies may chew on items from around the house purely because they are bored witless and need something to occupy their minds.
Collies need a LOT of mental stimulation, and without it they can develop compulsive habits like chewing.
If you think this might be the case for your collie, you can help them by playing lots of games with them, taking them for long walks to exercise, providing them with cognitive enrichment toys, and giving them something to learn via training.
2: Attention Seeking:
If your collie knows that every time they grab your clothes from the basket you end up chasing them around the room to get it off them, don’t be surprised when they come proudly prancing in to the room with a sock or a glove to initiate a chase.
The best way to avoid this behavior is to ignore them when they steal a piece of clothing, and instead entice them away from it with a toy or something that they are allowed to chew on.
This will reinforce to them that stealing garments isn’t a way to get attention and that they should play with their toys instead.
3: Separation Anxiety or Loneliness:
Collies have a tendency to become overly attached to their owners, due to their working dog heritage they are used to working cooperatively with humans and don’t do so well on their own.
If your collie is lonely and left by themselves at home, they may seek comfort with a piece of your clothing, which smells and tastes like you and calms your collie down.
Collies should not be left alone for long periods, and although this behavior may seem cute, loneliness is a big problem for collies and you should try to address it by making changes if possible so your collie is not left by themselves.
If you’re going out, there are plenty of things you can do to make your collie more comfortable on their own. One example is to leave a blanket that smells like you, that your collie can go to sleep on.
Collies destructive chewing
Collies are incredibly intelligent dogs, and without sufficient mental and physical stimulation they are prone to destructive chewing and other compulsive behaviors.
It’s easy to get angry with your dog, but remember your furry friend is not able to tell you how they are feeling, and this type of behavior is usually a sign that something needs to change in their environment to ensure your dog has a fulfilling life.
How to stop your collie from destructive chewing:
Destructive chewing in collies can be incredibly frustrating, especially if they are chewing expensive furniture or things that might hurt them like stones or dirt.
Thankfully, although this type of chewing can be frustrating it’s a simple process to get rid of, once you understand the reasons for the behavior in the first place.
1: Get them something else to chew
It’s normal for collies to play with balls, toys, ropes, or anything else they can find that looks interesting to them.
If your collie doesn’t have something fun to play within the house, they may start “playing” with other things that you don’t want them to.
Being able to access chewing toys at all times is critical for any collie, especially one with chewing problems. Having permanent access to a chewing toy makes it possible for your dog to find and choose a better outlet for their chewing energy. Having one toy in every room your collie has access to is a good idea too.
Whenever you see your dog using their chew toy, praise them for using it! Collies learn best by positive reinforcement of good behavior, not negative reinforcement of bad behavior.
Make sure your collie has lots of fun toys to play with, and always make sure they have something available to play with so that they don’t go start looking for other things.
Another option is a long-lasting chew treat, which will keep them occupied for several hours.
2: Ignore unwanted activities
If your collie is chewing for attention, stop giving it to them!
Collies are incredibly good at adapting to their environment and learning new behaviors. Most collies can pick up on new skills and training in only a few hours.
The problem with unwanted behavior like compulsive chewing is that it’s tempting to grab your collie or chase them away from what they are doing. While this may protect your antique bookshelf from collie teeth marks, it gives completely the wrong message to your collie.
If your collie is lonely and thinks chewing your furniture is a great way to get your attention and get you to play with them, they will keep doing it.
Instead of reacting to unwanted chewing by chasing or grabbing them, ignore it and distract them with something else which is more fun for them.
Grab their favorite toy or play a tug-of-war with them. This helps them to know you still love them and that if they want to play they should bring you a toy instead of chewing your furniture.
3: Give them lots of mental stimulation
The most common reason for a collie to chew things is that they are bored.
Without adequate cognitive enrichment activities throughout the day a collie’s mind becomes addled, leading to destructive behaviors like compulsive chewing. Helping give your collie a more mentally stimulating life will help with compulsive behaviors like unwanted chewing.
There are so many ways to help your pup have a fulfilling life. A few ideas you can try are scatter feeding, puzzle toys and feeders, playing games with them, teaching them new skills, not leaving them alone for long periods, or getting them a friend to play with.
Collies take to mental training like a fish to water, and there are so many amazing things you can do to help them fire up their grey matter.
Check out my other article on mental stimulation ideas for collies for more ideas.
4: Use an anti-chew spray
Anti-chewing sprays are foul-tasting but harmless sprays (usually made from citrus juices) that are designed to stop your collie from chewing on certain items or objects.
Spray a bit of this on any areas your dog likes to chew, and they will soon go and find something else to occupy them.
While this isn’t ideal if your dog is chewing everything, it’s a great solution if your collie is constantly chewing the same thing or spot.
5: Give them additional exercise
Since Border Collies are high energy and can get bored easily, one of their potential bad habits is taking out this extra energy by chewing whatever they can get their teeth on. Physical exercise will help expend their additional energy, without them having to chew up your furniture.
More walks and harder walks are always a great first option when it comes to exercising your collie, but there are loads of fun options. Taking a ball with you on walks for them to chase, going for extra long walks with them, and going to more difficult terrain for walks will all tire out your collie and help curb their boredom
Agility training and other sports are also fantastic for Border Collies. Check out our collie exercise ideas article for more collie exercise ideas.
6: Remove the Temptation to Chew
If your collie is constantly chewing on the same things, it might be possible just to remove those things from your home so that your collie isn’t tempted to chew them.
This is especially important if your dog is chewing something that might be harmful to them.
You may also choose to block their access to certain rooms in the house where the temptation is greatest, or where you can’t keep an eye on them.
7: Schedule some extra play time
Destructive chewing is often a sign of boredom or loneliness in collies, so it’s important to take it seriously. If you notice your collie chewing something even when they know they shouldn’t, they may be craving attention from you and it’s a sign that they might be feeling neglected.
You are your collie’s whole world. They love nothing more than playtime with their favorite human. Just look how their eyes light up when you grab their favorite toy and start playing with them.
Collies are very social and love playing with you. Even a 30-minute long play session with your dog can brighten up their day and help them to feel cared for, reducing the need for them to chew things just to get your attention.
What games your collie enjoys playing depends on their personality, but a good starting point is to focus on home activities and toys where your collie will use a lot of physical or mental energy. Scatter-feeding, tug-of-war, hide-and-seek, agility training, and herding games are all great options for collies, but they will be equally happy chasing a ball as long as you’re there throwing it for them.
They should have access to different toys and puzzles during the day even when you aren’t available to play with them.