Ah yes, the enthusiasm of youth. And the destructiveness! Why is it that puppies are compelled to chew everything in sight, including your best designer shoes and your favourite slippers? More than once in my life, I have been putting socks on my feet in the morning only to find they are missing toes. Either that, or one of the partners in my pair of socks has mysteriously disappeared. Like babies, puppies explore everything with their mouths, and their teething period lasts for about six months. What to do if your puppy is chewing everything?
Start with the house
Puppy proof your house as much as you can. Make sure things like electrical wires are covered and contained, no carpet edges are accessible and any garbage is out of reach. Check to eliminate poisonous house plants from puppy’s reach and don’t put anything that might be tempting in a place that may encourage him to jump up to get to the item. Try and think like a puppy! ‘If I was a puppy and knew nothing about the world, what would be irresistible for me to put into my mouth and gnaw on?’
Young puppies need constant supervision when they are loose in the house. They won’t know what is out of bounds for them if you don’t let them know. If you can’t be there to watch over them while you are doing chores or other activities, then puppy will need to be confined in a puppy-safe room, or in his crate or a puppy pen, while you go about your business. If that safe room is the bathroom, hide the toilet paper! Otherwise you may find lovely clouds and shreds of it all over your floor when you return. And do be careful that any medications are carefully stowed away out of reach.
You should carefully select the types of thing that are okay for your pup to chew on. So, don’t knot up an old sock and give it to him, and the same thing goes for old shoes and slippers. He doesn’t know the difference between your old shoes and one of your best ones. So who can blame him if you find him chewing on your best dress shoes? There are numerous safe and long-lasting chew toys for puppies on the market, so purchase a few of them and see which one is your puppy’s favourite.
Remove and replace
It’s going to happen. At some point you will find your pup chewing on something forbidden. Don’t get mad, and don’t yell NO! and rip it out of his mouth. He doesn’t understand what you are trying to communicate. All he knows is that you are upset but he doesn’t know why. After all, the item was within reach and you left it there. So, when you discover him gnawing away on something illegal, say ‘uh-oh’ and gently remove the item from his mouth and his environment. Replace it with one of his favourite ‘legal’ chew toys. As he starts to mouth it, give him praise.
Some puppies are a little sneaky and will find a way to get a hold of a forbidden item to chew on. Some will even chew on your drywall! One thing you can try is spraying ‘bitter apple’ on surfaces and items so that the very bitter taste he encounters will discourage him from chewing on it. If you don’t know what bitter apple is, it is a natural product which is commercially available in most pet supply stores and you can also make your own with a combination of vinegar’s and lemon juice. A search of the internet will get you the recipe. It’s harmless and its bitter taste is a total turnoff to most puppies. This works in the large majority of cases, but not always, so you still need to be vigilant until your puppy understands the rules of what he is allowed to chew on.
Exercise and Play
All the chew toys and taste deterrents in the world will not replace the time you spend with your pup playing with him, training him and getting his exercise. Tired and engaged puppies tend to get into much less trouble and the bonus is that playtime and exercise time will only strengthen your bond with each other. Soon enough he will learn the rules and life will settle down for both of you.
Enjoy these puppy months, as they are short lived and precious!
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