Why do Dogs Eat Paper?

Why Do Dogs Eat Paper?   By Dancun Kingori   |Last Updated 01-07-2024

Dogs sometimes have funny cravings. It’s puzzling really; this particular craving for paper and tissues.

If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering what you’re doing wrong to have your dog digging so relentlessly into the trash to get out a piece of tissue or paper, then sit up. This article is just for you.

A small terrier is about to eat a roll of toilet paper.Why Do Dogs Eat Paper?

To be honest, one too many a dog is super intrigued by paper, tissues, napkins, toilet rolls and pet parents are used to coming home to meet their paper products shredded all over the floor. Kinda annoying, especially if that piece of paper was important to you.

Why Do Dogs Eat Paper?


But why are dogs so accustomed to chewing paper? What’s so fascinating about this particular practice? Scott Sheaffer, a certified animal behavior consultant, says it comes down to odor, and that when you’ve used tissue paper to wipe your mouth/nose, there is an appealing scent on that piece of paper, which in turn, fascinates the dog.

Boredom and Anxiety

A labradore retriever tore up paper and broke a plate

Quite an amusing theory for why do dogs eat paper.

There are also other notable theories on the practice of shredding paper by dogs; some attribute it to boredom, anxiety or pica.

However, when a dog begins to compulsively devour paper products, you might have to start considering if it is a behavioral issue and not appetite-based.

Another certified dog behaviorist, Erin Jones, attributes it to dogs simply wanting to have fun, shredding everything made of paper within sight because they enjoy the shredding sensation. Maybe it reminds the dog of a grooming scenario where you make use of a dog shedding brush on her? Perhaps.  

Historical Perspective

Dogs descend from wild canines, like wolves, who exhibit various instinctual behaviors related to hunting, marking territory, and caring for their young. One such behavior is shredding.

Wild canines would often tear apart their prey for consumption to exercise their jaw muscles and clean their teeth. They also shred materials to create bedding or nests.

In today's domestic setting, dogs no longer need to hunt for food or create nests but retain these ancestral instincts.

That's where paper shredding comes into play. To a dog, a piece of paper or a toilet roll may closely resemble the texture of prey or potential nesting material, triggering the instinct to shred.

Furthermore, these behaviors can be reinforced if they trigger positive attention from their owners or lead to playtime.

Are There Some Breeds That Eat Paper More Than Others?

A shiba inu is shown surrounded by shredded paper

Certainly, certain small dog breeds have instinctual habits linked to their historical roles that could influence their propensity to shred paper.

1. Jack Russell Terrier: Jack Russells were originally bred for fox hunting, which required them to dig and burrow. This instinct can sometimes translate into shredding behaviors, as the action of ripping apart paper can mimic this burrowing and foraging activity.

2. Dachshund: Similar to the Jack Russell, Dachshunds were also originally bred for hunting small animals, particularly badgers. Their hunting instincts may make them more prone to shred paper to mimic the digging and tearing involved in their historical work.

3. Beagle: Beagles were hunting hounds used for tracking small game. Their keen noses may lead them to paper products that hold interesting or enticing smells. This, coupled with their natural curiosity and energy, could result in the shredding of paper.

4. Miniature Schnauzer: Historically, Miniature Schnauzers were excellent ratters, used to control vermin on farms. This instinctive drive can often result in shredding behavior, as tearing at paper may simulate the pursuit of prey.

Whatever the case, we will get juicier information on these different perspectives in a bit!

Some More Reasons Why do Dogs Eat Paper

Could Your Dog Be Suffering from Pica?

Pica, is defined as the ‘persistent craving and compulsive eating of non-food substances’ occurs in both humans and animals, and the cravings can range from dirt to ice, to literally anything! A common subsection of humans who commonly experience strange and odd cravings are pregnant women.

Now, Pica, according to the New York Times, is caused by anything from anemia to zinc deficiency and even behavioral issues like obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

If your dog is suffering from pica due to some form of micronutrient deficiency- and subsequently, is stuffing up toilet rolls and papers discarded in the bin or stored anywhere else in your house, then you need to consider seeing a veterinarian.

Relief of Teething Pain

Show of hands if you’ve ever had any issues with your teeth!

Quite a number of us know the excruciating pain associated with a toothache and would do anything to relieve it.

This could be what your dog or puppy is experiencing, and as such, your small dog might want something soft to stuff in her mouth. Pretty straight-forward, right?

One thing you can do here if you notice that your dog might be having teething problems is that you place something acceptable to chew on, perhaps a teething toy, within your dog’s reach.

Your Dog is Bored or Stressed


Your dog may be so bored, the only thing that looks interesting within reach is playing with paper rolls and shredding them into bits.

Do you find that when you go out and leave your dog home all day, you come back to piles and piles of disrupted paper? It just might be because your dog is bored, or it could be that your dog is under severe stress. If your dog is stressed, he might play less or repeatedly engage in certain behaviors.

Before you make that needed trip to the vet to find out what’s causing your pet stress, reduce the level of boredom by ensuring these dogs have lots of things around them to play with, such as puzzle toys.

Your dog might also not be getting enough exercise, resulting in boredom. Try taking your dog on longer walks allowing her to be involved in more aerobic activities. These activities will also improve her fitness.

What If Your Dog is Hungry?

One simple reason your dog is chewing paper and tissues is hunger. Yeah, basic hunger. This does not in any way mean you’re a terrible pet parent or anything, and PetMD talks about some background situations that could lead to this.

Intestinal Worms

Intestinal worms: this could cause your dog to eat and poop within a short time interval. The best option would be to deworm your dog at this stage or visit the vet.

Inadequate Nourishment

Your dog may not be getting adequately nourished from the food being eaten: Again, the food may not be providing him with adequate nutrients, for which you might need to try healthier food options

Your Dog Might Just Be Having Fun/Goofing Around

When considering this puzzling scenario, also remember that your dog could simply be goofing around. This habit of chewing on toilet paper or tissues might just be the fun thing to do for your pet. There are other options for items to chew on, such as treat-dispensing toys.

Addressing Your Fears: What If Your Small Dog Gets Hurt when She Chews on Paper?

As a pet parent, you might have an instinctual response to this habit of chewing paper that makes you feel like your dog could get hurt.

Who wouldn’t, knowing that paper wasn’t meant to be digested by the body? And with repeated episodes to this otherwise non-edible material, and lots of irreparable damage might be done, right?

You do have a problem; excessive chewing of paper or tissues can get your small dog’s intestines blocked up, causing digestive issues; and it might also increase the risk of the dog being lethargic.

According to a prominent Veterinarian, Dr. Jennifer Coates, small amounts of paper would easily pass through a dog’s digestive tract, but when large quantities are ingested, some parts of it can get stuck along the gastrointestinal tract, requiring corrective surgery.

As well, when a dog eats tissue paper or paper towels that are coated with a cleaning product or any other possibly toxic substance, the dog is exposed to a lot of harm.

One thing you can do as a pet parent is to ensure that paper towels coated with any toxic substance or chemical are completely out of reach of your dog, having established paper-ripping behavior. While trying to stop the act, it is important to keep them away from harmful triggers.  

How to Deal with This Behavior Without Losing Your Cool

It can be very exhausting to deal with a dog that aptly reminds you of teenage behavior always doing what you instruct him or her not to do and in this case, ripping up shreds of paper despite express instructions not to.

1. Why Do Dogs Eat Paper?  Keep it Out of Sight, Out of Mind

The first thing to do is to keep these papers out of your dog’s reach; the key to any form of training here is to manage the environment.

If your dog has been frequenting the trash can, use one with a secure, automatically closing the lid. Of course, a proper training process still has to be carried out because of the risk of tearing out the paper from a toilet roll.

2.Why do Dogs Eat Paper:  Use the "Drop It" Command

An implicit rule can be one such as a “drop it” cue for your dog to follow. Then reward your dog for listening to the prompt- if a dog associates obeying you to getting a reward, it becomes easier to obey you because guess what’s coming next? A sweet reward!  

3.Why do Dogs Eat Paper? Restrict His Movement

Another practical step to try when all others have failed is to restrict your dog movement when you’re not around to properly monitor his movement. You could use baby gates to wall off certain areas of your home, and keep it safe from being accessed by your dog.  

4. Give In (Sort of?)

One other creative means of going about this is to put treats into a paper box that’s within reach, and allow your dog to tear the paper box apart.

This serves as an outlet for the behavior, and see how far that can go. This could even be your treat for obeying you by refusing to tear apart a toilet roll you told your poochie to stay away from.

Do's and Don'ts For Dealing with a Paper Eating Dog


  • Don’t Scream at your dog in an attempt to get back a piece of paper or toilet roll; you increase the value of the piece of paper or tissue and make your dog non-responsive
  • Don’t chase your dog around. Your doggie would think it’s all fun and games!


  • Do use ‘drop it’ cues without raising your voice at the dog
  • Do take away paper that’s covered in dangerous substances far away from your dog
  • Do allow for time to make your dog more compliant with your instructions

Dogs will always be dogs; don’t sweat it out too much when a dog simply wants to have some fun!  

Wrapping Up Why Do Dogs Eat Paper

The whole point of having a dog companion is to make your home lively: what’s a little dog without a bit of mischief here and there?

However, if this habit of chewing paper is getting out of hand, make use of the advice in this blog post, and of course, you can thank me later! 

Why Do Dogs Eat Paper (Pin)Why Do Dogs Eat Paper Pin

Author Bio:

Dancun has been working with writing-challenged clients for over five years now. He offers ghostwriting, ghost editing, coaching, and SEO writing for businesses that want to see their sites at the helm of Google SERPs.

His education background in communications and public relations has given him a concrete base from which to approach different topics in various niches.

His writing skills can be confirmed on upwork.com, where he is a top-rated freelance writer. He especially enjoys writing website and blog content for startups and established businesses.

If you found this article, "Why do Dogs Eat Paper," helpful, may we suggest some other dog behavior articles you might like?

More Dog Behavior Pages to Explore

About Janice (author and voice behind this site)

Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, Janice served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu, but she has also lived with poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, beagles, English bulldogs, carin terriers, and a Cocker Spaniel.

When not writing, reading, and researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, husband, and family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu and Smart-Knit-Crocheting

You might like these articles if

you found this one, Dog Training Tips for New Owners Helpful

Does This Article Deserve Your Thumbs Up?

We always appreciate your support and encouragement.  Your thumbs up means so much to us.  Please like this article.

If you find this page or any page on Small Dog Place Helpful, or useful in anyway, I'd love it if you would click the small heart found on the bottom right of each page.

You can also share or bookmark this page -- just click on the:

10 Mistakes People Make When Choosing a Dog Breed

Free Monthly Newsletter

Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter and get our Free Gift to You.

my  E-book, The Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Choosing a Dog (and how to avoid them)