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There may be nothing quite as adorable as a puppy. However, there may also be nothing (other than a natural disaster) with the same potential to wreak havoc on your home and possessions!
If you’ve ever had the joy of bringing up a puppy, you know what I mean. For every soft, floppy puppy cuddle and wet, puppy-breath kiss, it seems like there’s also a chewed up shoe, a mutilated table leg, or even a carpet that’s been peed on (to learn what to do about your dog’s urine marking, see this post). And as much as you treasure the experience of sharing your puppy’s babyhood, you may find yourself thinking (for the sake of your furniture anyway) that you’ll be a little relieved when it’s all behind you.
Although chewing is a natural part of puppyhood, there are things that you can do to minimize the damage. And with less time spent worrying about the things your puppy might destroy, you’ll be free to enjoy this precious, all-too-short stage of his life.
Why Do Puppies Chew?
Chewing is completely natural for dogs of any age, but puppies take it to a whole new level! Puppies chews for a variety of reasons, but most commonly, it’s because:
- They’re Exploring Their World.
Although they can’t see when they are born, they can taste. So from very early on, puppies learn about the world around them by using their mouths.
- Puppies Teethe.
Like human children, puppies go through a teething phase. For most breeds, this phase starts around the time that they are 3 months old and lasts until they are about 8 months old. During this time, you can expect your pup to chew especially enthusiastically.
- Puppies Get Bored Easily
Puppies need stimulation and exploring their world through chewing allows them to get that stimulation. Just like kids, puppies need to be entertained and shown how to play, or else they’ll act out — usually on your furniture or shoes!
One of my favorite ways to keep puppies stimulated is to turn on DOGTV. The segments are designed to expose them to new sounds and sights, as well as keep their minds occupied.
You can use DOGTV on all your favorite devices, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Apple TV.
How to Stop Your Puppy’s Chewing
From the time you bring your new pup home, begin teaching him the “Leave it” command. This will make it easier to discourage him from chewing an inappropriate object and redirect him towards something else.
In addition to teaching your puppy to stop chewing on inappropriate things, it’s important to provide him with appropriate things to chew. When you catch your pup chewing something he shouldn’t, firmly but gently tell him, “no” and offer him a chew toy you know he likes. Praise him when he begins to use the new toy. This will help him to learn what’s OK for him to chew.
For more puppy training tips, check out my interview with my good friend, Greg Kleva, from BarkBusters:
Don’t Leave Him Unsupervised
There will be times when you’re not home or when you’re too busy to keep a close eye on your puppy. Giving him the run of the house at these times is just asking for disaster.
Crating your puppy is a great way to keep him safe and out of trouble when you can’t supervise him. Dogs are den animals, so spending time in a crate isn’t a punishment. It’s an opportunity for them to enjoy some downtime, take a nap, and stay safe while you’re gone.
You can make your puppy’s crate inviting and homey by giving him a comfy crate pad to snuggle into while he’s napping.
You don’t want to leave your puppy in his crate for more than a few hours at a time. You should also make sure to walk him immediately before and after crating him so he has a chance to burn off some energy and take a potty break.
Keep Him Busy
Puppies have LOTS of energy, and if you don’t provide them with opportunities to work it off, they will take matters into their own paws (or teeth).
Playing with your puppy and taking him for walks are great ways for the two of you to form a strong bond, and they’ll help to keep him out of trouble too. A tired puppy is a “good” puppy. Your puppy should have 2-3 walks or play sessions every day. If there are several human members of your family, sharing playtime duties will give everyone a chance for some quality time with your puppy. It will also help to exhaust his extra energy without totally wearing everyone else out.
One of my favorite interactive toys is the Chuckit! Ball Launcher. It’s one of the best way since I know to make sure that you’re puppy’s stamina for chasing a ball doesn’t outlast your arm.
It’s also a good idea to walk or play with your puppy at about the same time every day. Dogs (even the really young ones) appreciate predictability. Try to establish a routine so that everything in puppy’s life — waking up, eating, potty time, playing, and rest — follow a fairly predictable schedule. This will help keep him out of trouble.
Toys for puppies are usually smaller and softer than those designed for older dogs. It’s important to avoid hard bones, as these can damage delicate puppy teeth and prevent his adult teeth from growing in properly. Never give a puppy (or any dog for that matter) a toy that has parts that could easily be chewed off and swallowed. No matter what toys you “chews” for your pup, make sure that you inspect them regularly for loose parts that could be swallowed, and replace them before they become a choking hazard.
Kong Puppy Binky Toy. Kong makes a full line of puppy-sized toys, but the adorable binky shape makes this one of my personal faves! These chew toys also dispense treats, so they’ll not only sooth puppy’s teeth and gums, they’ll keep his little doggy brain busy too.
Nylabone Beef Flavored Puppy Chew Toy. This toy’s beef flavor gives it serious puppy appeal. And that’s good news for your sneakers! And it also has ridges and nubs that will clean his teeth while they are massaging his gums. For extra relief try throwing it in the freezer for a few minutes before your pup begins chewing.
Rope toys. These toys are paw-some for teething puppies because they are inexpensive and durable, and they can help to clean puppy’s teeth and strengthen his gums while he chews. Most of them can be cleaned easily with plain soap and water, and if your pup likes a cold toy to gnaw on, you can freeze them while they’re still wet.
The Everything Toy. I love this toy, especially for small breeds. It’s a stuffless toy that has crinkly paper in the tail and a small squeaker in the head. The arms and legs are made of rope, so it’s perfect for playing tug of war. Plus, how cute are these little creatures?!
Chilled carrots. A carrot will give your puppy something cold to soothe his gums, and it’s a nutritious treat too. Since carrots are high in fiber, limit your pup to no more than one a day to avoid upsetting his tummy. I’ve seen a single carrot piece keep a puppy entertained for twenty minutes! A big bonus for busy puppy parents.
Sprays like Grannick’s Bitter Apple have a taste that dogs don’t like, so it’s a great way to discourage a teething puppy from chewing on table legs, door jams, or other objects that you want to remain bite free. Before you spray anything on fabric, however, it’s a good idea to test a small spot to make sure it doesn’t leave a mark.
The puppy months will be over before you know it, and as exhausting as this time is, when it’s behind you, you’ll most likely look back on it with fond memories. If you watch your puppy carefully and provide him with plenty of appropriate outlets for his chewing needs, you’ll probably find that most of those memories are not in the form of little teeth marks in your furniture!