Introducing a new puppy to your family is an exciting time. Everyone is looking forward to hours of playing and cuddling, but it quickly becomes apparent that your puppy also is interested in chewing on everything.
This natural behavior is exhibited by all dogs, though some individual canines seem to have a stronger instinct for chewing than others. While you may feel angry or helpless when your puppy chews up your new sneakers, take heart. There are many things you can do to train your new dog to chew on appropriate things like toys while avoiding inappropriate things like the furniture.
Understand Your Dog
In some ways, puppies are a great deal like babies and researchers have determined that dogs have the mental capacity of a 2 year old. They use their senses of sight and smell, but there’s really no substitute at this age for putting things in their mouths.
It’s a way to explore the world, but chewing may serve other purposes. For instance, many puppies spend an approximate six-month period teething. Chewing is one way that they relieve the pain and discomfort that teething brings.
It’s also possible that dogs may chew out of fear or separation anxiety. If this appears to be the case with your pup, then it may be wise to seek the help of a trainer or behavioral specialist.
Puppy Proof Your Home
It’s wise to move anything that you would prefer that your dog not chew on out of their reach. This means that you may have to be tidier than you are used to with habits like putting shoes in the closet and hanging clothes after taking them off. The fewer inappropriate objects that are scattered around on the floor, the less likely it is that your puppy will have a chance to destroy them.
It’s especially important to make it impossible for puppies to access cleaners and other chemicals as well as electrical cords as chewing on these items may make them ill or cause a serious injury.
If certain rooms are not puppy proofed, then keep the doors to these rooms closed to minimize the puppy’s temptation. Providing frequent supervision is a great way to ensure that your dog only chews on appropriate items. For those times when you cannot supervise him, consider using crate training.
Teach Your Dog What to Chew
Chewing is a normal, natural instinct for any puppy. To encourage appropriate chewing, ensure that your dog has constant access to a variety of toys.
Try to get a good selection of different toys, puzzles and cuddly toys so that your dog will receive varied stimulation. For instance, your puppy will appreciate a fluffy toy in his crate or other confined space to take the place of her littermates. A squeaky toy is great for interaction and it helps to ease the teething process. Rope toys, balls and Nylabones all are suitable for interaction and teething.
Play With Your Dog
Enjoying regular playtime with your pup serves several purposes. It’s strengthens the bond between dog and people while also helping to show your dog what is appropriate for her to chew. If your dog starts to chew on something inappropriate, take the opportunity to redirect her attention to one of her toys. The more you play with your dog using her toys, the more fun she’ll think those toys are and chewing on other items may look less attractive.
Play also has an advantage in that it tires out your dog. When dogs are tired after a good play session, they are less likely to be bored or anxious. They are much more likely to take a nap than they are to chew on something when their energy has been appropriately directed toward play.
Do Not Discipline
You may feel irritated or even angry when you discover that your puppy has chewed a shoe or a couch. However, trying to discipline a dog for such behavior is impossible….remember they are 2 years old.
If you come home and discover that your pup has destroyed something, it doesn’t matter if the damage happened 10 minutes or 10 hours earlier. Disciplining your dog now will only be confusing and ineffective. There’s simply no way for your dog to associate his earlier inappropriate chewing behavior with the punishment that he’s receiving now.
A much better approach is to redouble your efforts to keep inappropriate items out of your puppy’s reach. If he’s determined to chew on a certain item or piece of furniture, try an application of Bitter Apple, which has a flavor that many dogs can’t tolerate. As much as possible, redirect your dog’s chewing to his toys whenever you see him chewing on things that you want to be left alone.
Puppies aren’t too young for training! In fact, dogs tend to be much easier to train when they are young and less set in their behaviors.
At Doglando, we specialize in training puppies that are as young as 8 to 12 weeks old with potty training developmental training. More advanced training is introduced between 12 and 20 weeks with our Puppy Preschool. From the age of five to seven months, Doglando even provides Pre-K9 Training.
Through this training, you and your pup will get the guidance and support that you need to forge a deeper and more meaningful relationship. Puppies who complete this type of training are less likely to exhibit inappropriate behavior, like chewing on shoes, which means that you can fully enjoy your puppy-raising experience.
Teena Patel is a Certified Dog Trainer and Behavioral Counselor who works with pet owners and owners of doggy daycares to bring her philosophy of Enrichment to the canine population. After almost two decades of successful dog training under her belt, Teena has done away with the standard doggy daycare “warehousing” of animals in kennels and runs. In place of an industrial model, she focuses on what is right for the dogs as living beings, providing experiences that improve and enhance their behavioral health. Coupled with a program of careful training, the Doglando experience results in companion dogs who are better-behaved, better integrated into their families, and above all, much happier. True to her passion, Teena Patel gives dogs the freedom “to be dogs”.