Caitlin UltimoTraining / Training Tips

Do You Have A Problem With Your Dog Eating Paper?

In my home office is a shredder, plugged into an outlet and capable of converting unwanted office papers and even expired credit cards into instant paper confetti. I push a button and — presto! — the deed is done.

But like many of you, my home also features a pair of four-legged paper shredders. Mine answer to the names Chipper and Cleo. If I am not tidy or careful, grocery lists, receipts for computer equipment and the sports section from the newspaper are torn to pieces and littered on the floor. And, if a package arrives and I fail to promptly fold up the cardboard box and place it in my recycle bin outside, my dog duo gleefully teams up to stage a cardboard confetti party on my kitchen floor.

The strangest item Cleo ever chewed? Somehow, she pawed off a book from the lower level of my bookcase. She gnawed on the corners of the hardcover book and ripped and shredded several inside pages. It was a puppy training book! Very funny, Cleo.

Fortunately, Cleo and Chipper engaged in shredding paper far more intensely when they were younger. They are now older and I have become wiser on how to take steps to keep important chewable documents out of their mouths.

Why Do Dogs Shred, Tear Up Or Eat Paper?

It’s common for many dogs to enjoy tearing up things. Shredding paper is great fun for dogs and they do not see any harm in it. Hey, in their minds, they are “attacking and killing” prey. The act of stealing your magazine and ripping out pages provides the same satisfaction to your domesticated dog as tearing at prey would if they were hunting in the wild outdoors.

Yes, there are so-called super-shredder breeds. Boxers, Golden Retrievers and even the seemingly mild Maltese revel and delight in unrolling toilet paper and leaving a shredded paper trail down the hallway. But any dog of any age can be guilty of committing this “canine crime.”

Some dogs shred paper out of sheer boredom or as a way to cope with feeling anxious or stressed. Their oral needs are huge, and they are looking for anything to make them feel a bit more safe or secure.

How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Paper

To help your dog kick the paper-shredding habit, do a room-by-room patrol of your home and pick up any chewable paper item. Stash them in drawers and inside file cabinets. Besides the threat of having your dog destroy an important document (like your income tax form or your child’s homework essay), there is a potential health threat. Dogs who swallow paper can develop digestive problems. Or swallow staples or a large amount of paper that can cause internal bleeding or an intestinal blockage that warrants emergency veterinary care.

Keep bathroom doors closed to tame the must-shred-toilet-paper temptation in your dog. Or simply place the toilet paper on a counter that is too high for your dog to reach.

Next, provide your dog with a suitable alternative for his oral fixation needs by offering him a chew toy or a hollow rubber dog toy filled with treats or peanut butter to occupy his mouthy need.

You can also channel this desire into training your dog to fetch papers and bring them to you intact by offering him grade A-level dog treats for completing this mission.

Start by wadding up a piece of paper from your notebook and tossing it past your attentive dog. Give him a treat when he picks up the paper wad. Call him to you and give him more treats when he brings the paper wad to you and drops it when you give the “drop it” cue.

Conduct mini training sessions each day until your dog is consistent in this paper-fetching activity. The goal is to reward him for desired behavior. Some people have had great success in using clicker training to help their chew-happy dogs convert into fetching dogs.

I know it can be frustrating to see the remains of your homework or free-dinner coupon littered on your floor, but it is futile to yell or scold your dog for shredding paper. This response only causes heightened stress in your dog and weakens your bond with him.

The best advice is to start your newly adopted puppy or shelter dog off on the right non-paper-shredding path from Day 1. Never give him the hollow cardboard tube from an empty paper towel roll to use as a fun, free chew toy. Unintentionally, you are creating a bad habit that could last a lifetime. Instead, provide your dog with appropriate toys he can mouth and chew on to occupy his time.

By: Arden Moore

Featured Image: Agnes Kantaruk/