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Why do they do it? What can we do about it? Is it bad for my dog? If you’ve got paper shredding questions, we’re here to help.
Does your dog go cuckoo for tissues, toilet paper, napkins, or paper towels? You’re not alone. Many dog owners struggle with maintaining the sanctity of the trash can at home, and with trash dashing on daily walks.
Is this a familiar sight in your home?
In a recent article in Psychology Today, dog expert Stanley Coren explains how a dog’s hunting instincts trigger this seemingly bizarre fascination.
Somewhere encoded in the canine genetic makeup is some kind of memory or preference for certain touch sensations such as the feel of fur or of feathers in their mouths. Such touch sensations seem to give dogs a thrill and can trigger a desire to mouth, tear, and shred things associated with those feelings.
— Stanley Coren, “Why do dogs like to shred tissues?“
It’s not just the texture of the paper that taps into a dog’s instincts. The very act of holding down a tissue box or toilet roll—and shredding it to mulch—echoes the behavior of a dog in the wild as it picks apart its meal.
Used paper goods also hold onto a range of scents and flavors that attract dogs. Just like underwear and socks, a snotty tissue is a salty treasure trove that, well, tastes like you. (Did we mention that dogs are gross?)
Boredom, stress, or anxiety can also send dogs running to shred paper.
A little paper now and then isn’t likely to result in more than an upset tummy, if anything. You might see some confetti poops, but not anything too alarming. However, larger items like paper towels, diapers, and sanitary napkins can cause serious blockages. These can require forced vomiting or even surgery to remove.
Now that we’ve got you motivated, let’s look at what can be done to prevent this behavior.
Limiting your dog’s access to the bathroom and kitchen is the biggest step you can make. Prevention is key. Other simple steps include:
- Investing in step-on or locking lid garbage and recycling cans
- Keeping paper goods up out of reach
- Hanging the toilet roll facing the wall
What to do once your dog gets a naughty-but-goodie? Fall back on obedience training classics such as “leave it,” or having a better reward on hand, like cheese or treats that you can “trade up” for. Also, make sure your dog has access to a quiet, peaceful area in the house, along with plenty of safe and healthy chews and toys to satisfy her cravings like the Hide-a-squirrel plush puzzler or the Seek-a-treat puzzle.