I have a German Shepherd, approximately 4 years old. He's a pound puppy, so his background is a mystery. He is overall a skittish, slightly nervous creature. Very sweet but also very spooked. When I work from home, he'll sit in my office with me and look so incredibly bored that I worry.
He's been with me for two months. One of the first things we worked on was "what's ok to chew." I'd offer an appropriate chew and praise and reward when he showed interest, and then when he bit, then when he chewed, and then chewing for longer duration.
Luckily, he isn't showing a lot of unwanted chewing behaviors but he hasn't really engaged with many of his "bones" (in this case Nyla- and Benebones but also horns and antlers) since the first two or three weeks. In the case of a ram's horn, he chewed it very excitedly for a few days and now finds no interest in it unless I start the game.
If I sit down with some treats and play our "let's chew!" game, he will chew to earn the treats but not much longer than that. He does seem to have fun with the game but he never initiates chewing on his own, unless it's a hoof and he grinds those down so fast he throws up sometimes. I'd like to diversify his chewing portfolio a little bit and make sure he knows he's allowed to play without me (if that is indeed what is holding him back.)
This isn't his only avenue for enrichment; I know managing his energy is important for him to be happy so we go on a short walk (deliberate training walk where we focus on loose leash walking) and a long walk (this one is more a sniffari) each day and he eats most of his food from puzzle toys or enrichment feeders (Kong and Toppl). We also are going through Dr Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol as part of our evening routine to help him learn to relax.
I know chewing is important for dogs (both for teeth and for natural behavior reasons) and that getting him excited about chewing on hard toys will make future car rides, crate time, and stressful situations easier and more fun for him. I'm afraid that my current method has taught him that chewing is only a thing we do together.
How can I help him choose to chew?