Rip. Rip. Rip! You turned your back for only a moment, but in that time your chihuahua has snagged a tissue from the wastebasket and is busily ripping it into tiny shreds. Chihuahuas seem to love shredding tissues, but why do they like it so much?
The answer is a little bit complicated. There are several reasons that make tissues and other paper products like toilet paper and paper towels irresistible to your pet.
It’s Sometimes Medical
Most dogs shred their tissue into a delightful pile—and then leave it there.
If your dog is also eating most or all of the tissue, and there’s no food on it, it could be pica. Pica is the desire to eat non-food items and it can sometimes be caused by mineral imbalances in your dog’s body.
If your dog is consuming paper and not just shredding it, see a vet to make sure it is not a medical problem.
While ripping tissues is harmless in itself, eating large amounts of tissue or paper could potentially cause a blockage of the pet’s digestive system.
A Genetic Component
Some animal behaviorists believe that shredding paper has a genetic component. Before dogs got their food out of a bowl, they had to hunt for it. While they may only hunt squeaky toys these days, tissues can simulate ripping feathers or fur out of a bird or animal.
The desire to rip can be easily satisfied by the sound and feel of tissues. They can hold down the tissue and tear it apart bit by bit, satisfying those deeper instincts.
An Attractive Scent
Another reason behind tissue shredding could be what is on the tissue. We blow our noses on them, clean our mouths, and wipe up bits of food with paper products. All of these smells are very attractive to our pets.
They may specifically seek out these used tissues to rip up because they enjoy the smell as much as the feel of them.
It’s Just Fun
One other reason dogs may go to great lengths to get those odds and ends from the trash is that it’s just fun to do. When Chihuahuas get bored, they don’t just sit around feeling bored. Shredding tissues can be a way to help resolve that boredom.
What You Can Do
If you aren’t wild about constantly having to sweep up paper explosions, there are things you can do to manage the situation. You can place lids on your trashcans to help shut your little explorer out and keep
paper products out of reach.
You can also help give your pets’ things to do so they’re not looking for things to get into. Enrichment toys like food puzzles and Lick-It mats can help give their busy little minds something to think about.
There are even toys that let your chihuahua de-stuff them over and over again. Squirrel-in-the-log for example is a toy with 3 or 4 squeaky squirrels inside a log. The chihuahua has to pull the squirrels out of the log to get the toy.
Andrea Kuska is a chihuahua lover and blogger over at All Things Chihuahua. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her 4 chihuahuas.