3 Simple Steps To Stop Destructive Chewing
Puppies love and need to chew. As a new puppy owner, you have probably found this out the hard way—finding your favorite pair of shoes destroyed or realizing that your pup has been making it 'snow' after gnawing the stuffing out of the couch.
So first of all, why do puppies feel the need to chew on everything?
While you might think that your puppy has set out to make your life a living hell, they actually have better reasons to chew than to simply add to your daily drama. There are a few key reasons for puppy chewing habits:
- Puppies, like human babies, chew when they are teething; therefore, the chewing of objects soothes their gums.
- Also, like babies, puppies put objects in their mouths to figure out what the object is, and what to do with it.
- Finally, puppies may also chew when they are bored or have a lot of energy.
Because of the reasons listed above, dogs actually have a need for chewing, just as they have for sleeping, eating, etc.
Your dog needs to and is going to chew. However, no matter your dog's age (although you may think otherwise at this point), the good news is that you CAN control what your pup chews on and does not chew on.
To do this, you simply have to teach your puppy what is appropriate to chew on and what is not appropriate to chew on.
While puppy chewing is extremely important, if not corrected in the puppy stages, this natural tendency can turn into a truly detrimental behavioral problem when not properly monitored.
How does one go about stopping destructive chewing? Here’s your plan of action:
1. Be sure that you have appropriate chewing objects available for your pup.
We have established that dogs have a need to chew and are going to chew no matter what.
With that in mind, you need to provide them with chewing items that are appropriate for them to chew on.
There are a lot of different types of acceptable chewing items for dogs.
Chewing items are essential for puppies, as dogs actually have a need for chewing, just as they have for eating, exercising, etc.
Also, chewing objects benefit the health of your puppy’s teeth and gums and can provide your puppy with healthy minerals.
Here are the chewing items that I recommend:
Antlers are one of the most amazing chewing object for dogs. They are full of vitamins and minerals, they are natural, and they last FOREVER (‘Forever’ in dog language, meaning a few months).
Why are they so great?
For one, they are much safer than any other chewing item because they are a lot less likely to break off into pieces or splinter.
In addition, antlers will keep your pup busy for a long time, while providing him with health benefits. Antlers are a little bit more pricey, but I promise you they are worth it.
Bully sticks are another great chewing object to have at your disposal. They don’t last nearly as long as antlers, but last quite a bit longer than other chewing treats.
They have a very strong odor which makes dogs love them. They will only last a day or two, but will keep your puppy busy for a little while.
They are also natural and also full of vitamins and minerals for your pup.
Kongs are a great chewing object for puppies!
You can fill them with food and all kinds of goodies your dog will love! I like to fill my pup’s with peanut butter and mix in some of his food and then freeze it for a couple hours before giving it to him.
The frozen treat will last much longer, and the coolness feels great on your pup’s gums and teeth!
However, there are also some marketed chewing items that I advise you to stay far away from:
Despite common belief, bones are very dangerous for dogs.
Bones, especially cooked, can splinter very easily, which can cause an irreparable amount of damage to your puppy.
The splintered bones can get lodged in your puppy’s esophagus or severely injure the stomach.
A puppy who has splintered bones in your his body will most likely need surgery to remove them. Not fun!
You will find rawhide chewing objects at any corporate pet store, like PetSmart or Petco.
It is the most commonly marketed chewing item, but do not let the abundance of it and the low price tag fool you!
What a vast majority of puppy and dog owners DON’T know is that it's very easy for a puppy to bite off a large piece of rawhide and swallow it whole.
This is dangerous because rawhide isn’t digestible for a puppy and can cause gastrointestinal problems or blockage; which means surgery for your puppy and a ridiculously high vet bill coming your way.
There is certainly a risk with anything that your puppy chews, so I suggest closely monitoring your puppy with his chewing items.
Be cautious of the items you are giving your puppy to chew on.
As a general rule of thumb, never give your dog anything that is made outside of the USA. Toxic chemicals have consistently been found on chewing objects for dogs made outside of the United States.
Foreign bones and other items can be deadly to your puppy if he consumes something that is toxic or artificially created.
This plays into the U.S. made distinction, which is important to take into consideration because other countries don’t have nearly as strict regulations as the U.S. when making dog and other animal products.
2. Be very strict with what is appropriate to chew on and what is not.
Do not EVER let your puppy chew on an inappropriate object—not even once... this will only confuse your pup!
Your puppy is just learning right from wrong, so you need to make sure that you are teaching him right from wrong in every area of his life, including what is right to chew on and what is not.
If you are repeatedly telling your puppy to not chew on an inappropriate object, at some point you may think that it is easier to just give up and allow your puppy to chew on the object.
Do not do this!
If you allow your puppy to chew on an inappropriate object, even once, all the progress you had made to that point in teaching him right from wrong chewing objects will be thrown out the window.
Raising a puppy is simply a series of repetitive routines!
It will get annoying having to repeat things a million times, but that is part of raising and training a puppy.
Therefore, you need to be consistent and strict with what is appropriate to chew on and what is not.
Even if it seems as though your puppy will never learn to stop chewing on inappropriate objects, he WILL learn in time as long as you are consistent and patient in consistently guiding him to appropriate chewing behaviors.
3. Redirect your puppy to an appropriate object to chew on.
This is hands down the most important step!
If your puppy does try to chew on an inappropriate object, tell your puppy “NO” and REDIRECT HIM TO THE APPROPRIATE CHEWING OBJECT.
If you don’t redirect your puppy’s attention to an acceptable item, he will continue to find new objects to chew on to satisfy his urge.
Just simply telling your puppy “No” will not teach him anything, which I find to be a mistake in SO many dog owners.
For example, let's say your puppy is chewing on your shoes, you tell him “No”, take the shoes away, and that is it.
Why would your puppy, who has a need to chew, want to stop chewing on your shoes in that situation?
The reality is that he wouldn’t, and he will continue to do it again and again when you approach the situation like this.
Therefore, instead of just telling your puppy “No”, you must REDIRECT him to an appropriate chewing item that will satisfy his need to chew.
Redirection is key to stopping destructive chewing and it is a step that most dog owners never take.
So… yes, you WILL have to be persistent and consistently redirect your puppy to appropriate objects.
But, the more consistent and persistent you are, the faster your puppy will learn and stop those inappropriate chewing habits!
For more detailed information on how to correct destructive behaviors like chewing, plus 19 other inappropriate behavioral problems, check out “The Puppy Training Handbook” Program!