National Train Your Dog Month, Enrichment Tuesday: Give a Dog a Bone

Hello Tuesday! It’s time for some enrichment.  Dogs have some basic, primal needs that often go unaddressed in their lives with humans, and that really is a sad fact.  Often behavior problems are simply the result of inattention to these needs, and one of the most overlooked necessities in our dogs’ lives is chewing.  Because I have to, I’m going to say once again that I am not a veterinarian or a nutritionist, this is what I know from a behavior specialist’s perspective, and more importantly a dog mom’s perspective, about giving dogs bones to chew.  And while I’m at it, here’s a blog by Dr. Patricia McConnell on chew bones (and some other stuff).

Dogs NEED to chew. Some dogs REALLY need to chew.  Giving your dog safe things to chew is a great way to enrich their lives.  My personal number one favorite thing to give my dogs for chewing, and the thing I recommend the most to my clients who own dogs that REALLY need to chew is raw marrow bones.  The best babysitter on the planet for your dog is a meaty raw bone that he can work on for a long time.  The first time you give one to your dog you will see his amazing jaws do exactly what they’re made to do, he will be occupied for at least an hour or so, and he will be tired when he is done.  I also save the hollowed-out bones and stuff them like Kongs until they get old and start to break.  I prefer these bones to rawhides (though I do give rawhides also) because they last longer, I feel safer giving them, I feel like my dogs are gaining vital nutrients from the marrow, and in general dogs go INSANE for raw bones. 

“But wait! I thought real bones were bad for dogs?” I’ve heard that too, and the fact is that giving bones is not without risk, but the “scary” bones to give dogs are cooked bones.  Cooked bones splinter and break and should never be given to your dog.  Giving raw bones is not without risk, but neither is going to the playground for your child.  If you want to keep your dog and kid in a bubble, that is your perogative.  I choose to participate in a lot of activities with my dogs that are not without risk and I find that their lives are better for it.  (Off-leash hiking in the Colorado wilderness comes to mind).  You can always stick to your stuffed toys we discussed last week if you are worried about giving your dog a bone, but I feel that the benefits of giving raw chew bones outweighs the risks involved.  Your choice. 

In case you are curious about what bones to give, this is an example.  Whole Foods and high quality feed stores provide these types of bones, or you can buy them online. 

Happy chewing! What are you going to do with your free time now that your dog has a bone babysitter?