Why Does My Dog Eat Tissue Paper?

by Chris Miksen, Demand Media
    Lots of playing in the daytime means no tissue paper eating at night.

    Lots of playing in the daytime means no tissue paper eating at night.

    You might ask who in their right mind would eat tissue paper. Your pup's rebuttal would be one of those exaggerated canine sighs. As disgusting as tissue paper might sound to you, some dogs have nothing better to do, while others munch down out of fear or compulsion.

    Bored

    All dogs need physical and mental stimulation, especially younger canines. If they don't have a lot of toys to play with or ways to empty their energy reserves, tissue paper looks mighty inviting to them. Throwing a ball with your little girl or taking a daily stroll with her around the neighborhood can cut down on her tissue eating completely, if it stems from boredom. Leaving a treat dispenser lying around and giving her a nice selection of toys can discourage her from peeking her head into the bathroom and destroying your last roll of toilet paper while you're away.

    She Just Can't Help it

    Everyone has those annoying habits that seem compulsive, like nail biting. Dogs can behave the same way. Stuffing her belly full of tissues or toilet paper may not be the perfect snack in your pup's mind, but it's just something she has to do. Often, compulsive behavior happens because of a certain stimulus. Sometimes it happens because of seemingly nothing at all. If something is causing her to eat tissue paper, try counter conditioning her to respond positively to the stimulus versus scarfing down unhealthy amounts of paper.
    Let's say she's afraid of thunder. Try playing thunder-like noises on your computer with the volume turned way down. When the sounds play and she doesn't become nervous, pop a treat in her mouth. Keep turning up the volume until she realizes thunder is the gateway to treats and awesomeness. If nothing in particular is causing her compulsive behavior, teach her the "leave it," and "drop it" commands, and grab her attention away from the paper when she is about to chow down.

    Separation Anxiety

    Some dogs can't deal with the horror of being left by themselves. Destruction usually ensues, from tearing up the carpet to chewing themselves incessantly. If your pup has separation anxiety, she likely will do more than only eat tissue paper. If she's just eating a bit of paper and chewing a few other items, a treat dispenser might dissuade her enough until you return, if you leave for just an hour or so. If she's making herself bleed by chewing her skin, or trying to break out of her crate when you leave, visit your vet. Moderate to severe separation anxiety requires a lot more than just a treat dispenser, but you can get your furry friend back on the road to recovery.

    The Joys of Puppyhood

    If the tissue paper predator is a puppy who hasn't yet crossed that barrier into adulthood, hang onto your seat for a little while longer. Puppies sometimes see even the most mundane things as the best chew toys in the world, so yours might decide to unravel a roll of toilet paper or pluck a couple tissues out of the box. When you catch her, say, "ah" sharply, and give her a toy to play with instead. Remember to give her lots of exercise and playtime too.

    Blocking off Access and Crating

    The simplest way of stopping your conniving canine from making a plan to eat your tissue paper is to prevent her from doing so altogether. This is helpful especially for puppies and those who eat paper compulsively. Shut the door to your bathroom and move tissues up high where even a jumping pup can't reach them. If your pup isn't suffering from separation anxiety, or if she is but doesn't try to hurt herself while crated, keeping her in a crate when you leave is a perfect solution. Ease her into the crate, making it a good experience. You don't want her to be afraid of it or think it's punishment.

    About the Author

    Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

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