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More Than You Can Chew

By Dr Katrina Warren on June 15, 2012 in Other

Photo: Paul Jameson

One of the most annoying aspects of owning a puppy is their desire to chew and eat pretty much everything they can find. Shoes, hoses, brooms, mats, pot plants and garbage are all fair game. Chewing is a natural behaviour for puppies because they are inquisitive and this is their way of exploring the big new world. Chewing also helps relieve the pain associated with teething.

For most puppies chewing behaviour eases substantially by twelve months of age, but it can become a lifelong habit if your puppy is not well managed. You can set your puppy up for life by following these few simple tips to create an adult dog that is comfortable to chew on appropriate items that you choose.

A puppy playpen will solve most of your chewing issues
Puppies can be placed in their playpen whenever no one is able to supervise their actions. This way the puppy doesn’t get the chance to make mistakes. In its playpen, provide plenty of chew toys and raw bones to keep your puppy occupied.

Provide suitable chew-toys
Young dogs enjoy chewing and need to chew while teething. Provide chew toys, changing them regularly to maintain your dog’s interest. Stuff a ‘Kong’ toy with soaked dry food, wet food or chicken necks then place it in the freezer. This can be given to the puppy when left alone along with some larger raw bones. Kongs make excellent chew toys and are almost indestructible. Don’t give toys that can be easily torn apart or have squeakers in them that can be swallowed.

Puppy proof
Temporarily remove anything that your puppy might chew such as plants, electrical cables and rugs. Until your puppy can be trusted not to chew your household items, it should not be given full run of the house unsupervised.

Do not leave your puppy unattended in the yard
There are far too many chewable temptations. Puppies love to do gardening but not necessarily to your standard!

If your puppy does chew up your favourite shoe or piece of furniture, remember you are the one who left it unsupervised. There is no point getting angry after the fact because your puppy will not know what he has done wrong. Just clean up the mess without a fuss and make sure you don’t leave the puppy unsupervised again.

Reinforce your puppy’s chew-toy habit
Encourage your pup to chew appropriate chew-toys whenever it goes to its playpen. Use a term like ‘chewie’ and lots of verbal encouragement. With time, your pup will know that the term ‘chewie’ means to go and lie down with its favourite thing to chew.