How to Manage Chewing as Your Puppy Matures
Maureen Brown, KPA CTP
Puppies chew for a variety of reasons. A puppy, much like a uses toddler both its nose and mouth to gain information about its environment. A very young puppy will mouth nearly everything around him. At approximately four months of age, puppies begin replacing baby teeth with adult teeth. At this point a puppy will use chewing to alleviate the discomfort associated with teething.
There are several ways to both redirect and manage puppy chewing. Firstly, and perhaps the most obvious step would be to puppy proof your house. Make any inappropriate chewing objects unavailable to your pup. This serves the dual purpose of both keeping your pup safe and limiting the number of times your dog has to practice inappropriate behavior. Take actions such as:
- Make sure any electrical wires out tucked out of reach
- Put plants out up out of reach. Temporarily relocate large floor plans to a room that is off limits
- Pick up all pens, pencils and crayons
- Keep your trash in a closet or cabinet with a tight fitting lid
- Find a safe place to store all children’s toys
- There are many common food items such as raisins, and sugar free products containing xylitol as well as many cleaning products that are toxic to dogs. Please do your research and make sure your puppy does not have access to these items.
Next, once your home is thoroughly proofed, create a safe place for your puppy to stay when you are not available to supervise him. Crates, or a small exercise pen, are both great tools that provide your pup a safe quiet space of his own. A young puppy should never be allowed to roam freely in the house for both safety reasons and for housebreaking purposes. Provide your puppy with a variety of safe chew toys. Limit the pup’s access to just a few toys at a time, rotating to provide variety.
Provide training for your puppy by teaching cues such as “leave it” or” take it” to help him differentiate between what belongs to him and what is off limits. If your puppy does pick up an item that is off limits, don’t reprimand your pup. Instead, you can give him the “leave it” cue and trade the item for something more appropriate.
Ensure your pup gets plenty of exercise and stimulation. Puppies will often chew due to boredom or to channel excessive energy. Provide several play sessions per day. Expose your pup to new environments in a way that your puppy feels safe and enjoyable. Keep training fun and interesting. For very young puppies, 2-3 min. of training per session is plenty.
Keep it in perspective. Your pup is bound to destroy a few things that are of value to you. Puppy raising is tough but utilizing the tools above will help keep the peace in the home while your puppy matures.