Puppies, just like babies, have teething issues when they're just getting used to the world around them. Unfortunately, their first response to these issues is to chew everything in sight. As a puppy owner, you'll have to figure out the most effective way to deal with this problem. You shouldn't try to discipline your puppy by hitting them. They can't help their behavior, and it's unlikely that they'll even associate it with your punishment. Puppy brains don't work that way. Instead, you should be looking at an approach that keeps your puppy's curious and playful nature intact while keeping them from destroying your property.
Make Sure Their Chewing Is Due to Teething
Even though chewing on your property might be due to them getting teeth, it could also be due to a plethora of other issues, most of which are unrelated. Some of the problems that can lead to destructive chewing include:
- Separation Anxiety: Puppies that are worried about whether you'll come back for them tend to chew when they're left alone. Other signs of separation anxiety, such as whining or barking, may also form part of their behavior.
- Fabric Sucking: Some pups aren't interested in chewing wooden fixtures but enjoy licking or biting at fabric. Some experts suggest this may be because they were weaned too soon. Dealing with this problem may require seeing a veterinary behaviorist with specialized training for dealing with obsessive behaviors in animals.
- Hunger: Sometimes, the simplest explanation makes the most sense. Some dogs start chewing on everything around them because they're just hungry. If you find your dog chewing on objects that smell like food or remind them of food, then they're probably chewing because they're hungry.
How To Control Your Dog's Destructive Chewing
As a pet owner, you need to know the most effective ways of dealing with your puppy teething. Among the proactive things that you can do are:
Take Care of Your Belongings
Puppies are notoriously short, and if you don't want them getting to something, the easiest thing is to place it on a shelf out of their reach. Items like shoes, clothing, eyeglasses, etc., make for great chewing targets for a puppy, so keeping them on an elevated shelf is the best idea. Your pup can't chew something he or she can't reach, after all.
Make Sure Your Pet Toys are Recognizable
When you give your pet a chew toy, make sure it doesn't look like other furniture you have in your house. If a puppy can't distinguish the difference between a chair leg and a chew toy because they look the same, they'll happily bite either one. Also, remember that shapes are more important than colors since puppies can't tell the difference between a brown chair leg and a red chew toy.
Separate Your Dog From Chewable Things
This suggestion isn't a call for locking your puppy away. However, limiting your dog's access to chewable parts of your apartment may help to control their destructive tendencies. Setting them up in a cozy corner, complete with a microfiber fur dog bed can help to calm them down and keep them happy. It's essential to remove all chewable items from this area and remember that confinement means you'll need to spend extra time walking them and playing with them to make up for their isolation.
Use Chewing Deterrents
Chewing deterrents are chemicals that are harmless if ingested but taste and smell awful to your dog. The best way to administer deterrents is to put a little bit on some cotton and offer it to your dog. Your puppy will smell it and then take it into their mouth, eventually spitting it out and never touching the cotton again. Once they learn this lesson, it's easy to apply a deterrent to all surfaces that you don't want your dog to chew on. Deterrents aren't a permanent solution and are usually best when used in tandem with teaching your dog what they're allowed to chew and what they aren't.
If your dog listens to commands, this might be a novel way of dealing with their chewing. Offering them a treat to let go of something in their mouth can help to train the behavior. If you add the command "Give" to their repertoire and temper it with a snack or a treat, you can extend it to chewing training. The "Give" command can allow them to let go of whatever they're chewing on in exchange for a treat. This technique could backfire if your dog figures out that they can ply you for treats by chewing your furniture, however. It's a risk you'll have to be willing to take.
Engage In Physical and Mental Activity With Your Dog
One of the most common reasons dogs chew things is because they're bored. Physical and mental activity both feature prominently in a pet's life. If you aren't giving them enough physical activity in the form of walks or playtime, they will get bored. Mental stimulation comes from playing with you and from meeting other dogs. If you do have to leave your dog alone for a little while, play with him or her a bit first so that they get that physical rush. They're far less likely to chew your furniture if they get that little bit of playtime in.
Try Freezing a Washcloth
if your puppy's teething, then you will have to approach the chewing problem a bit differently. Instead of focusing on tiring your puppy out or deterring them through awful-tasting deterrents, you should try to soothe their pain. Freezing a washcloth can help by giving your puppy something to chew on, which is comfortable to bite down on and soothing because of the cold. If you go this route, you'll need to be present to supervise your puppy, so they don't accidentally swallow pieces of the washcloth.
Don't Chase Them!
Puppies and dogs are likely to pick up items to chew on when they feel like it. When your dog does this, your first instinct is likely to be to run after them and command them to drop it. Unfortunately, this is precisely the opposite of what you should be doing. Dogs see being chased by their human as loads of fun. Consider offering them a treat and calling them over for it. Smart dogs will realize they can't have the treat unless they give up the item they're chewing.
What NOT To Do
When dealing with a dog that chews, there's a right and a wrong way to approach the problem. The sad thing is that a lot of pet owners go about it the wrong way. Instead of helping their pup deal with their situation, they instead cause more problems. If your pup is chewing and you want them to stop, there are a few things you shouldn't do under any circumstances:
- Don't spank or scold your dog while showing them any damage they did. Dogs don't think the same way as humans, and punishing them like this will have no impact. It will scar your dog and will make them trust you less. Your pup won't be able to connect your punishment with something they did hours ago.
- Don't duct-tape your dog's mouth around something they chewed. Not only is this inhumane and barbaric, but it can cause lasting physical and mental scarring for your pup. In the past, there have been reports that some dogs have died from this method of punishment.
- Don't muzzle your dog to prevent chewing. This approach also doesn't help your dog and is inhumane. Such cruel and unusual punishment can't communicate to your dog that he or she shouldn't chew things. Instead, it makes them view you with distrust. When you lose your dog's trust, it takes a long time (of ever) for you to recover it.
- Don't isolate your dog for an extended period. You can keep them away from the rest of your apartment or home once they have enough place to run around a bit. However, if you're isolating your pet for a long time to "teach them a lesson," that will lead to worse behavior and even worse chewing following the ordeal. This type of punishment might lead to serious trust issues and increase any anxiety your pet may already be feeling.
Approach This Practically, But Humanely
Punishment for something like chewing isn't the most practical way to deal with the problem. At its root, it's an issue with how your dog sees the world around him or her. They may be suffering from other impactful issues that might lead them to think chewing is an excellent way to resolve them. As their owner, you need to guide them and be understanding about their situation. Puppies might be chewing because they're teething, but older dogs might do it because of anxiety or several other issues. Trust your pet and take care of them. Once you find an approach that works, you'll appreciate how much more manageable and humane this method is than trying to punish them for something they can't even help.