HOW CAN I STOP MY PUPPY FROM CHEWING?
There is no doubt about it: Sharing your home with a young puppy is lots of fun. But some puppies have the tendency to chew on everything they can find. In doing so, they can damage our possessions, and even bring themselves into danger: No one wants to have their shoes destroyed, or find their puppies gnawing on power cords. So, how can we keep both our dogs and our possessions safe? In this article, we will explain why dogs are so fond of chewing – and how we can manage this behaviour.
WHY IS MY PUPPY CHEWING?
Chewing is a completely normal behaviour for young dogs. After all, they do not have hands like humans. Instead, they must rely on their mouths to gain information about their environment. Taking different objects into their snouts, tasting them and nibbling on them, helps dogs to better understand the world around them. Of course, puppy teeth are quite sharp. And without meaning to, puppies can accidentally pierce the skin of their owners, or damage their clothing.
So, the first reason why puppies are chewing is their desire for exploration. The second one is the need to alleviate teething pains: Just like children, puppies experience discomfort in their gums. Typically, the transition from milk teeth to adult teeth happens between the age of 4 and 6 months. During this phase, puppies instinctively seek to alleviate these pains by chewing. Doing so not only alleviates the discomfort – it is also necessary for the healthy development of their gums: Young dogs have to work their jaws a lot to expel all the milk teeth, and make room for the adult teeth to come in.
Another reason for excessive chewing is pent-up energy. Just like children, young dogs are brimming with energy, and have an unstoppable zest for life. This is beautiful, and it contributes to the joy that they bring into our homes. But unless they get the opportunity to release this energy in positive ways, they can channel them into destructive chewing. This is not only typical for teething puppies, but also for adolescent dogs in their so-called second chewing phase, which sets in around the 9 months mark. And now, let us see what exactly we can do to prevent young dogs from engaging in excessive chewing.
HOW TO STOP PUPPIES FROM CHEWING ON EVERYTHING?
As we have seen, mouthing, gnawing and biting is necessary for puppies – at least, to some extent. Young dogs depend on their mouths to gain information about the world they live in. They also have to expel their milk teeth. But to protect our young dogs from harming themselves, we must prevent them from nibbling on toxic plants or sharp objects. We also have to keep them from swallowing items that can cause internal blockages or even injuries. So, let us look at a few simple solutions to puppy chewing.
1. Puppy-Proofing Your Home
Puppy-proofing your living space is one of the most important things you can do for your new dog. The extent of such safety-measures largely depends on the areas that will be accessible for your puppy. For example, some owners only secure the kitchen and living room – as this is the only indoor space the dog will be allowed in. Other people dog-proof their entire house and backyard. Here are some of the measures you can take to puppy-proof your home and garden:
✓ Get a crate and/or playpen to leave your puppy in whenever you cannot watch them
✓ Keep your puppy out of any unsecured rooms
✓ Keep cabinets and drawers securely closed at all times, and your floors tidy (doing so prevents your puppy gaining access to socks or other smaller objects that they could swallow)
✓ Remove toxic plants from the garden
✓ Relocate toxic pot plants to spaces where the dog cannot access them
✓ Secure windows, doors, staircases, garden gates, balconies and fireplaces (for example, by using baby gates)
✓ Cover plug sockets
✓ Secure electrical cords – for example, by tying them up or covering them with a PVC pipe
✓ Keep chemicals, cleaning supplies, human food and medications in high cabinets
✓ Make the trash bin inaccessible for your puppy
✓ Put a fence around swimming pools or ponds on your property
2. Providing Safe Chew Toys
As we saw, chewing is quite natural to puppies. And we recommend redirecting this impulse to adequate objects - such as soft dog toys, and chew toys that are designed for puppies. Following the simple 3-step formula Correct – Redirect – Reinforce, we can verbally correct our puppies whenever we see them mouthing something we want them to leave alone. Then, we redirect their chewing efforts to a toy. In this way, our puppy learns to use objects of our choosing to alleviate their teething discomfort. Frozen washcloths, or frozen puppy toys, are ideal to soothe aching gums. Our Fenrir Hammer, for example, can be filled with peanut butter for dogs, wet puppy food, or meat paste. Filled and then frozen, the Hammer keeps puppies entertained for quite a while. The Fenrir Hammer is an extremely versatile toy that your dog can enjoy in various ways: Virtually indestructible and easy to clean, the Hammer is an excellent treat-dispenser, chew toy, retrieval dummy and tug toy.
The 3-step formula Correct – Redirect – Reinforce is ideal for redirecting your puppy’s chewing. But you can also apply it for any other undesirable behaviour such as jumping up or counter-surfing.
HOW TO STOP ADULT DOGS FROM DESTRUCTIVE CHEWING?
Puppies and adolescent dogs are generally more given to chewing than older canines. But some adult dogs can also display tendencies to gnaw on anything they can get hold of.
Some breeds are more prone to this behaviour than others: Energetic working dogs like German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois and Dobermans, for example, are often strong chewers – to the point where they destroy most commercial dog toys. Sporting breeds like Golden Retrievers and Labradors can share this tendency for heavy chewing. Our Fenrir Hammer Chew Toy, however, will withstand even the most aggressive chewers: We have tested the Hammer’s resiliency in many ways, and we can attest that even the enormous bite-force of a Cane Corso or a Turkish Kangal will not harm the Fenrir Hammer.
By redirecting your adult dog’s desire to chew to safe dog-bones or toys such as the Fenrir Hammer, we can prevent them from gnawing on our carpets or destroying our furniture. And in providing plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, we can drain our dog’s excess energy – no matter their age. Tired dogs indeed are good dogs. And a content canine that has the chance to go on walks, to run and to play, will spend a good amount of their free time resting. No matter their age: Providing exercise is key for keeping dogs happy and balanced. And happy, well-balanced dogs are less prone to destructive chewing.
Chewing is a common behaviour for puppies, adolescent dogs and even some older dogs. We all love our dogs, and enjoy their affection and companionship. But even the most sweet-tempered house dog still is essentially a carnivorous predator. And as such, activities such as hunting and tearing apart their kill are natural. In the wild, canines routinely gnaw on animal bones. If we respect our dogs’ roots as predators, we can better understand them – and their desire to hunt, tear, and chew. And by providing constructive, fun outlets for these desires (such as playtimes, runs off leash and chew toys), we meet their needs. In this way, we help them to enjoy the best lives possible. And at the same time, we get to enjoy our lives with them to the fullest. This is what perfect canine companionship is all about.