Prevent Your Puppy's Destructive Chewing
It's perfectly natural for puppies to want to explore their surroundings. Two
primary ways of getting to know the world around them are through their noses
and mouths, which is why many puppies can be seen smelling or chewing on just
about everything they encounter.
Preventing Destructive Chewing Using a Constructive Multi-Pronged Approach
Not long ago I trained an adorable five-month-old Labrador Retriever puppy
whose owner had tried for months to correct her puppy's chronic chewing
Prior to meeting with her, she had attempted to solve the problem by
disciplining her puppy after-the-fact, whenever she returned home from work and
found that he had chewed something. The chewing continued, and so did the
discipline, until finally she realized that nothing was getting any better.
Then one day -- in a desperate attempt to curtail her puppy's destructiveness
-- she went out and bought over a hundred dollars worth of chew toys and
According to the owner, it was heaven for the first couple of days while the
puppy played with all his exciting new toys and left the furniture intact. It
didn't take long, however, for the puppy to grow bored and return to gnawing on
chair legs, sofa cushions, and rug fringes.
Soon after, she called me to set up an appointment. When I arrived almost a
week later for our initial consultation, I noticed that the living room was a
virtual Toys-R-Us for puppies! And clearly, neither after-the-fact discipline
nor truckloads worth of puppy toys were the answer. Instead, I recommended the
following multi-prong approach to correcting the puppy's chewing problem:
1)Puppy-proof your home . Instead of constantly reprimanding a young
puppy for getting into things, puppy-proof any areas of the house to which your
puppy will be given access, in much the same way one would child-proof an area
for a baby:
Temporarily take up any throw rugs.
Place all plants, poisonous substances, household cleaners, trash receptacles,
paper products (such as tissue and toilet paper), shoes, and any small chewable
objects out of reach.
Either remove, cover or tape down all accessible electrical wires.
Remove or secure heavy objects which could fall or be pulled down and cause
injury to the puppy.
2)Limit the number of toys. While all puppies should have toys to play
with, the problem with providing your puppy with too many toys is that it makes
it more difficult for the puppy to differentiate what's his from what's yours.
Do not provide a destructive puppy with more than a few toys at a time. (This
rule does not apply to dogs who are not destructive chewers).
3) Safely confine your puppy. Use a suitably sized crate or
wire-reinforced puppy gate whenever you're unable to safely supervise him. When
introduced properly and used correctly, crate
training is a safe, preventive, effective and humane housetraining
tool, which provides the puppy with a secure, protective den, while offering
his owner peace of mind. Please note: Introduce your puppy to his new crate
using positive association (ei: feed him in his crate), and never use his crate
as a punishment.
4) Offer him lots of outdoor exercise. Puppies who are destructive
indoors, need one to two hours of active outdoor exercise daily, provided they
are fully immunized. Teaching your puppy to retrieve a ball, toy, or Frisbee
will help cure his chronic chewing problem. [Note: If your puppy doesn't have
all of his "shots" yet, it is probably NOT safe to allow him to play with other
dogs (other than those who are aready part of your household) or to give him
any access to outdoor areas where neighborhood dogs go. Final " puppy shots"
are usually administered by a veterinarian when a puppy is around 16 weeks of
5)Offer your (fully vaccinated) puppy playtime with a puppy playmate.
Lots of active play each day, keeps the hyperactive puppy demons away !
6)Obedience train your puppy. Just 5 to 15 minutes of training a day can
make a big difference. For young, immature and hyperactive puppies who have
difficulty concentrating during lengthy obedience lessons, even a few 30-second
obedience training "mini-sessions" offered on a daily basis will prove very
helpful. Remember to remain upbeat throughout, and always end your sessions on
There are several ways you can learn how to train your dog, including:
group obedience classes
private in-home training
training seminars and workshops.
For more information, please visit our resources section.
7) Enroll your (vaccinated) puppy in an agility training class. Agility
training helps build coordination and confidence, offers your puppy substantial
exercise, and is great fun!
8)Apply Bitter Apple spray or salve to accessible woodwork and furniture legs.
The bitter taste is usually an effective deterrent for most puppies.
9)Avoid the futile after-the-fact discipline syndrome. In order to
successfully correct your puppy's misbehavior, you must either catch your puppy
in the act, or, better yet, work on preventing his misbehavior to begin with.
10)Consider enlisting the help of a reputable dog trainer or canine behavioral
consultant if despite these steps, your puppy still acts like a canine
Choose Suitable Chew Toys
Rather than attempting to stifle your puppy's chewing tendencies, his desire to
chew should be constructively channeled and directed towards acceptable items
such as his chew toys. Avoid giving your puppy discarded socks, shoes, sneakers
or other articles of clothing. While some puppies may learn to differentiate
between those things which are his and those which are yours, most puppies
When it comes to choosing which toys to give your puppy, these are the primary
qualities to look for:
Safety . Only allow him those toys and balls which can not be chewed
apart or accidentally swallowed. Also, beware of bells, buttons and squeakers,
which may be hazardous if chewed off of a toy and swallowed.
Durability. Good chew toys should last a long time.
Fun. If it s not, your puppy won't want to play with it.
Ease of cleaning. After all, who wants to spend all of their time
cleaning chew toys?
I especially recommend the following toys:
1) The Tuffy or Kong. These are not only great chew toys, but are also
great retrieve toys as well. They have plenty of "give" for puppies who are
teething, and are also virtually indestructible for most dogs. In my opinoin,
they are two of the best puppy toys on the market.
2) Cresite, Beefy Baseball, or other durable rubber balls. Both the
solid and hollow thick rubber balls can be rolled across floor for puppy to
chase and chew.
3) Tennis balls are perfect for teaching medium to large sized puppies
4) Starballs. These odd-shaped, erratic-bouncing balls are ideal for the
consummate retriever who likes a bit of a challenge.
5) Mutt Pucks, which are both hardy enough to last with most puppies,
yet are not so hard as to discourage chewing. (Some dogs can chew their toys
apart in a surprisingly short period of time. Should this happen with your
puppy, remove any pieces which can be swallowed immediately.)
6) Buster Cubes and Actvity Balls. Fill these toys with kibble or your
puppy's favorite treats and watch the fun begin.
7) For special occasions, make "Puppy Cannolis": hollowed, sterilized
beef marrow bones, which can be filled with a thick kibble-based mixture, then
To make the mixture, place I cup dry dog food kibble, 1 small cube of
freeze-dried liver, crushed into powder, 1 teaspoon powdered or fresh pressed
garlic, and 1 cup warm water. Mix well and let sit for 1 hour. Stuff mixture
into beef marrow bone. Cover edges with approx.1 tablespoon cream cheese or
soft Velveeta cheese (optional). Freeze overnight (also optional).
Frozen "Puppy Cannolis" should be considered and extra special treat, and
offered only on an occasional basis. Make sure the beef marrow bone is big
enough that it can't be swallowed, and that bone fragments are not eaten. Owner
supervision is advised.