How to Control and Direct Puppy Chewing Behavior
by Dr. Marty Smith, DVM
Drs. Foster &
"Don't give your puppy an old shoe or sock to chew on. Puppies don't
understand the difference between new and old."
Puppies chew on whatever they can get their mouths on for any number of
reasons: they're bored, they have a lot of energy, they're teething, or
they're just curious. Dogs learn through their mouths. It's their tool;
it's how they receive a great deal of information. They are naturally
inclined to use their mouths whenever they can.
Fortunately, most destructive chewing behavior can be prevented or controlled.
To prevent problem chewing and to direct your pup's natural inclination
to chew toward appropriate objects, follow these simple guidelines:
· Puppy-proof the confined area. If possible, remove all items
your puppy can chew on, including socks, shoes, furniture, plants, etc.,
from any area in which you confine your puppy. Tape over electrical outlets
and make sure electrical cords are out of reach.
· Confine your pup in a crate or puppy-proofed area when you are
away. Because puppies learn with their mouths, giving your teething puppy
free rein in the house is asking for trouble. Keep them confined; you
don't want them to go to school on your expensive living room furniture.
· Closely supervise your uncrated pup. Not unlike caring for a
toddler, you should always be aware of where your uncrated pup is and
what he is doing.
· Give your puppy chew toys. The sole focus of your dog's chewing
should be directed toward items you select. There are a wide range of
items to choose from, including Gumabone and Nylabone-type products. There
are also many safe, long-lasting chew toys that are made especially for
teething puppies that will keep them occupied and content for hours. Examples
would be knotted rawhide and durable rubber teething products, like Kong
toys, that satisfy your puppy's need for chewing and gum stimulation.
The items should not be similar to articles you don't want your puppy
to chew. Your puppy can't tell the difference between your new dress shoes
and an old tattered pair.
· Make departures low key to avoid causing separation anxiety,
which is often expressed through nonstop barking, whining, or destructive
chewing. Before you leave, add your scent to your dog's toy. Rub the bone
between your hands and give it to your pup as you leave.
· Give your puppy plenty of exercise to relieve boredom and burn
off energy--two significant factors contributing to destructive chewing.
· Correct chewing of inappropriate objects. If you catch your pup
in the act of chewing anything but his chew toy, remove the object and
replace it with an acceptable chew toy. If your pup then chews on the
toy, praise him. You always want to reinforce desired behavior with praise.
If possible, treat the "inappropriate object" with a product
designed to deter chewing, such as Grannick's Bitter Apple or Drs. Foster
and Smith Chew Stop that will give it a bad taste.
· Teach your pup to ignore non-toy objects if he consistently chews
the wrong things. Place tempting objects on the floor along with your
pup's chew toy and pretend not to pay any attention to him. If (and usually
when) he starts to put his mouth over one of the forbidden objects, correct
with a firm "No!" and point out his bone. Once he learns he
can only have the toy when you're in the room, it's time to leave the
room for short intervals.
If he chews on forbidden objects after you leave the room, your quick
return will catch him in the act--the only time when corrective action
should be taken. Again, give him the toy, and praise if it is accepted.
If he is chewing forbidden objects but you can't catch him, he should
be crated when unsupervised until he learns what is and is not acceptable
to chew on.
The obvious purpose of this training is to prepare your puppy for the
day when he can be trusted to be alone in the house and not confined.
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