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Help Your Puppy Stop Chewing

Puppies explore the world with their mouths. Unlike humans who can touch everything around them with their hands, puppies rely on their mouths and this can cause some serious problems for their owners. No one wants to come home to find their couch, their shoes, or their important papers mutilated by a puppy.

Puppy chewing on a pair of nice sandalsThe good news is that your puppy, and even your adult dog, can be trained to stop destroying your personal property with their chewing.

When you have a young puppy, you have a great window of time available to teach him about what is appropriate chewing behavior. And it's almost always easier to prevent a behavior than to stop one that has already begun.

First, you need realistic expectations. Your puppy is going to chew. It's natural. No amount of scolding or punishing will ever stop him from chewing; it will only strain your relationship with your canine friend and make you both miserable. Instead, you should provide appropriate chew toys. Hard plastic toys work best because they are more durable. You want to avoid stuffed toys, especially with squeakers. Dogs love chewing on them, but they can easily destroy them and possibly choke on the squeaker. Rawhide bones are another choice most veterinarians warn against. Because the rawhide is hard to digest, it can occasionally become lodged in the dog's stomach.  Sure, the chances of this happening to your dog may be slim, but why take the chance?

Second, you can't expect a bored puppy to chew on only those toys when he's not being supervised. Generally, when you're away at work is when the puppy will do the most damage if he's allowed to roam around the house. Crate training is really important for this reason, among others. By using the crate to give your puppy boundaries while you're gone, you'll be preventing him from developing a love of chewing inappropriate items and you'll be encouraging him to enjoy his toys.

Third, make sure your puppy has plenty of exercise. Bored dogs who have lots of pent-up energy are not only more likely to chew but are also more damaging when they do it because they can chew longer and with more force. Walking your puppy is the best way to help him release that energy which, in fact, will help you deal with all kinds of behavioral issues, including separation anxiety, escaping, and digging.

Finally, you need to know how to correct your puppy when he chews on inappropriate things. For example, if he starts trying to eat your table leg, you should redirect him to chewing on a nearby toy. When he does, you should praise him. If you catch him in the act of chewing something inappropriate, you can startle him with a loud noise, such as a clap of your hands, to stop him. Unfortunately, punishing your dog for chewing up something important while you were not supervising him won't do you any good. Dogs don't make the connection, so he won't understand what he's done to upset you.

You can learn more ways of dealing with your puppy's chewing behavior by reading Chewing Behavior: How to Stop It, written by a veterinarian. Remember though, the best methods to stop bad chewing behaviors are done before it really gets started.

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