The household destruction that comes with little puppy teeth—tattered shoes, torn rugs, gnawed chair legs—is a common challenge new pet parents face.
Preparing for a new pup requires a careful examination of your home to check for possible chewing targets. You’ll also need to stock up on appropriate teething supplies, like treat-stuffable busy toys and dog-safe bones.
Yes, puppy chewing can be frustrating, but with planning, understanding and intervention, this predictable rite of passage can be easily managed so that both your home and your new best friend stay safe.
To learn how to stop a puppy from chewing on things he shouldn’t be, it helps to understand what’s behind this common puppy behavior. Here’s what you need to know about puppy chewing.
Why Do Puppies Chew?
New puppies are detectives on four paws, and they use their mouths to help them investigate the world around them. Not only does chewing combat the pain of erupting teeth, it also serves as a way to process their environment. The puppy perspective about what to chew and why to chew it includes:
- Is it delicious? Obviously dogs enjoy chewing on items that taste good, but keep in mind that a dog’s perspective of what tastes good is vastly different from ours.
- Is it fun? Objects that “play” back, like spring-loaded door stops and tassels on rugs, have the added benefit of movement.
- Does it feel good when I bite down on it? Teething pain can be soothed by gnawing.
- Will it give me something to do? Many dogs chew as a way to relieve boredom or stress, which is why it’s critical to provide them with approved toys and bones.
Puppies will naturally try to chew anything they can get their paws on, and they don’t come into our households knowing what belongs to you and what belongs to them. That’s why puppy proofing is so important.
The drive to chew everything is a normal developmental stage, but it’s up to pet parents to channel it to the appropriate outlets. The teething phase can ebb and flow until a puppy’s adult teeth come in at about 6 months of age. However, many adult dogs enjoy chewing bones and busy toys throughout their lives.
How to Stop a Puppy from Chewing Everything
The name of the game is puppy proofing! Puppy proofing is the temporary step of removing any items that might be a tempting chew target. Sure, your home might look a little bare without the throw rug and decorative baskets, but once your puppy understands what he can and can’t chew, you can begin to reintroduce objects that used to be targets.
When it comes down to considering how to stop a puppy from chewing, you need to examine your home from your puppy’s perspective. Yes, that means getting down on your knees so you can explore at their level. Remove or secure the following types of items, keeping in mind that puppies can get creative when they feel the urge to chew:
- Electrical cords
- Baskets and plants on the ground
- Socks and shoes
- Garbage cans
- Blankets and pillows
- Children’s toys
- Dish towels
- Toilet paper
Some potential chew targets can’t be completely removed, such as the legs on your wood furniture and your kitchen cabinets. You can either get creative, like covering furniture legs with PVC tubing from the hardware store (just make sure they can’t remove it and swallow or choke), or opt for a chew deterrent that’s safe for both puppies and your home goods.
If your puppy proofing fails to catch every possible target and your pup grabs something inappropriate, avoid the temptation to chase him. Running after your dog encourages him to take off and turns your pursuit into a fun game. Instead, offer a trade for a treat, or better yet, have a bone or treat-stuffed rubber toy you can give him to redirect him.
Since puppies absolutely need to chew for a variety of reasons, it’s important to provide appropriate gnawing outlets. Plush toys are fun for team play, but they don’t provide the type of resistance that helps relieve teething discomfort. Plus, they’re not strong enough to withstand tough chewers, so they’re not the best chew toys for teething puppies.
Hard rubber puppy chew toys like the Kong that can be stuffed with treats, peanut butter, or your pup’s meal ration are great options to keep dogs happily occupied and out of mischief. Pet parents should have a variety of these types of busy toys on hand to keep their puppy interested.
Bones can also be great teething helpers, but be careful of bones that can splinter or break off and might become choking hazards, as well as bones that are too hard and could damage the teeth. A good rule of thumb (literally!) recommended by veterinary dentists is that if you can’t indent the bone or chew with your thumb nail, it’s too hard for a dog’s teeth.
Here’s another great strategy when figuring out how to stop a puppy from chewing everything: In addition to puppy proofing and providing safe chew toys for puppies, make sure that he’s getting enough mental and physical exercise. Taking your puppy outside for play and training can lead to a happily exhausted pooch that’s less likely to go searching for inappropriate things to gnaw on. That being said, there are still outdoor risks to consider. Ensure your puppy is vaccinated and on broad-spectrum parasite protection, such as Interceptor® Plus (milbemycin oxime/praziquantel).
See important safety information below for Interceptor® Plus.
Finally, use a crate when you can’t actively supervise your dog to help prevent household destruction. A crate sized so that your puppy can stand up, turn around, and lie down, used for short periods, provides your pup with a safe haven when you’re not able to watch him. You should never use the crate as a form of discipline, otherwise your dog will become fearful or adverse to it.
Puppy Chewing Risks
Chewing the wrong sorts of things can lead to a number of problems for puppies. From worst case outcomes like possible electrocution from biting cords and choking to life threatening blockages from ingesting items that can’t be passed naturally, it’s critical to take proactive safety measures during this challenging phase. Puppy proofing cords, locking away garbage cans, and using safety latches on cabinets with cleaning supplies or medication will help keep your puppy safe.
When Does Puppy Chewing End?
Many puppies begin to taper off their chewing habits once their adult teeth come in at about 6 months. However, chewing is an instinctual behavior that’s a natural stress reliever, boredom buster, and fun activity, so there’s a good chance your dog will enjoy bones and other chew toys throughout his life.
However, a dog that resorts to destructive chewing only when you leave the house might be suffering from separation anxiety or isolation distress. This behavior usually requires assistance from a trainer specifically qualified to deal with canine disorders.
Although the puppy chewing phase can be intense, pet parents can get through it with puppy proofing, proper supervision, and a toy box filled with the right kinds of chew toys.
Interceptor Plus prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls adult roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections in dogs and puppies 6 weeks or older and 2 pounds or greater.
Interceptor Plus Important Safety Information
Treatment with fewer than 6 monthly doses after the last exposure to mosquitoes may not provide complete heartworm prevention. Prior to administration of Interceptor Plus, dogs should be tested for existing heartworm infections. The safety of Interceptor Plus has not been evaluated in dogs used for breeding or in lactating females. The following adverse reactions have been reported in dogs after administration of milbemycin oxime or praziquantel: vomiting, diarrhea, decreased activity, incoordination, weight loss, convulsions, weakness, and salivation. For complete safety information, please see Interceptor Plus product label or ask your veterinarian.
Disclaimer: The author received compensation from Elanco US Inc., the maker of Interceptor Plus, for her services in writing this article.
Interceptor is a trademark of Elanco or its affiliates.
© 2020 Elanco or its affiliates. PM-US-20-1221
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