The first time you saw your puppy chewing on an old pair of shoes you thought it was cute and all, but now that he is all grown up and he still chew on ALL your stuff (including those brand-new shoes you just bought!) you've sort of changed your mind and think it is not so cute. Don’t worry no more, we’ve got some tips to help you stop the massacre!
First of all, chewing is a normal behavior for puppies but becomes undesirable behavior when it is directed towards inappropriate objects such as your shoes, furniture, or even your hands and feet. Puppy chewing is an important part of the teething process, and, as adults, dogs often chew for fun, or to relieve boredom. It is your job to redirect the chewing on appropriate chew toys.
- Puppy (and dog) proof your house.
The first thing we encourage you to do is manage the environment. We are all familiar with “puppy proofing” our houses – we learn to put shoes in the closet, and put pups in the crate when we are not actively supervising them. But we often forget that many adult dogs need the same type of management to keep them out of trouble (and keep your stuff safe at the same time!).
- Discourage inappropriate chewing.
If you do find your dog chewing on something inappropriate correct him by taking the object away and scolding him. Direct his attentions to an appropriate chew object and give praise when he chews on said object. Gradually, your dog will learn what objects are his and which are not. Sometimes it can be difficult to discourage chewing if the pattern is already established. Taste deterrents such as bitter apple can applied to the object, the noxious taste will hopefully deter the determined chewer and he will learn to leave the object alone.
- Provide appropriate chew toys for your dog to enjoy.
Each dog will have their own personal preference as to what they prefer to chew and play with. Dog toys such as balls and kongs may appeal to your dog, just be sure to select a size that is appropriate for your dog. They should be able to pick it up and carry it but it should be of sufficient bulk that it cannot be swallowed. Do not give toys that resemble inappropriate items; for example do not give your dog an old shoe to chew on because he will not know the difference between the old chew shoe and a brand new pair.
- Play with your dog!
Spend time playing and exercising with your dog on a regular basis. This not only reinforces the human-animal bond but expends energy that your dog might be otherwise directed to inappropriate chewing and behaviors. Exercise is vitally important for dogs prone to inappropriate chewing or other destructive behaviors. A tired pup will be less likely to get into things. Exercise also produces endorphins, which have a calming effect. In fact, it is these endorphins that are stimulated by chewing, so if your dog is not getting enough exercise, he may unconsciously be seeking to replace needed endorphins by releasing pent-up energy through chewing.
Always remember the chewing stage will pass more quickly if you understand your dog’s needs. If you provide a range of chews, plenty of play sessions and exercise well, you are well on the way to having a contented dog that only chews the right things.