You can't stop puppy chewing, because it's normal dog behavior. Puppies don’t chew your prized possessions because they’re mad at you. They instinctively use teeth the way human babies reach out with tiny fists. Your puppy chews to explore the world, to manipulate objects, to relieve boredom, and because it feels good.
Destructive chewing still makes owners howl. Years ago I hobbled for weeks when my pup gnawed a quarter inch off just one of my high heels. He also chomped my husband’s favorite property—the TV remote. He targeted items that smelled like us to feel closer to us, and soothe puppy loneliness, but we still didn’t appreciate the compliment!
Chewing gets pups in trouble when they aren’t provided with legal chewing opportunities, and forbidden objects are left within reach. Puppy chewing can break teeth, result in dangerous swallowed objects, or burns and electrocution if Junior bites an electrical cord or eats a poisonous plant. Teething increases the urge to gnaw because it relieves sore gums, but dogs usually continue the habit into adulthood.
Don't try to stop it. Instead, prevent puppy chewing problems by removing temptation, and offering lots of better (legal) opportunities. Refer to these 8 tips to manage your puppy's gnawing habit.
8 Training Tips to Stop Puppy Chewing
- Puppy Proof the House. A new puppy forces us to become better housekeepers. Keep tempting objects like shoes, handbags, tissues, and your child’s favorite stuffed toy safely out of reach.
- Confine the Pup. When you can’t supervise, provide a "safe" room that has no dangerous or forbidden temptations. Baby gates work well to control puppy access, and can block off a hallway, stair, or room.
- Use Repellants. Products that taste nasty can keep puppy teeth at bay. Bitter Apple applied to electrical cords helps train pups to leave dangerous items alone. Many dogs find the scent of Vicks Vapo-Rub offensive. Paint Vicks on wooden baseboards or apply to cloth draped over other forbidden targets to keep puppy teeth at bay.
- Don’t Confuse Him. Puppies can’t always tell the difference between your new designer sandals and the “legal” old slipper. It’s best to offer chew toys that he won’t confuse with forbidden objects.
- Make A Trade. Chasing a pup to retrieve your stolen wallet becomes a great game of keep-away, and can teach your smart-aleck pup to swipe things to invite a tag marathon. Instead, when you catch your pup chewing a forbidden object, tell her "no." Offer an irresistible legal chew toy (maybe filled with liverwurst?) as a trade.
- Offer Puzzle Toys. Rubber chew toys with openings stuffed with healthy treats keep puppies interested and on target. Some are mint or peanut butter scented to be more appealing. Goody Ship, Buster Cube and Kong products are examples of a wide range of outstanding puzzle toys that can be filled with soft food, peanut butter or commercial treats designed just for puppies.
- Provide Chewies. Rawhide chews or edible “dental” chews come in all shapes and sizes, complete with a variety of strong scents and flavors. Soak rawhide in warm water and zap with the microwave for ten seconds to soften the leather and make it more pungent for tiny puppies. Monitor rawhide fun, though. Larger pups are able to gnaw off and swallow pieces, and eating too much rawhide spoils appetites and may prompt constipation or even blockage.
- Rotate Toys. Puppies get bored with the same-old every day. Provide at least three to five “legal” options for your chew-happy baby and rotate a couple of times a week. That keeps puppy happy, your precious belongings undamaged, and your fur-kid safe despite himself.