Chewing is an annoying but natural part of a puppy’s development. It is very similar to teething in babies and the chewing stages are needed to help with teething problems. Expecting a puppy not to chew isn’t reasonable, but they can be taught to chew the right thing, rather than shoes and furniture. Adult dogs that chew are often bored or have separation anxiety disorder. Adult dogs who chew can usually be taught to restrain their behavior or chew appropriately relatively easily. Some will require professional assistance from a dog trainer or behavior specialist.
Stages of growth
Puppies chew during teething. This usually occurs sometime before the six month phase, depending on the specific breed of the dog. Some of the larger breeds can continue chewing beyond the six month stage and some breeds are only known for chewing behaviors. Regardless of the breed, up to six months will be problematic for most puppies. There are several steps that owners can take to minimize the damage that can occur with chewing behaviors:
· Puppy-proof your home. This means removing all hanging wires, electrical cords, curtain rods, and other dangling objects. Hanging plants that touch the ground can also be tempted to chew and can even be poisonous.
· Keep chewable items in drawers or out of reach of puppies. For example, toys, shoes, remotes, books, backpacks and briefcases, telephones and even laptops should be stored or kept on tables or desks well out of the reach of puppies.
Provide a wide variety of chew toys while away. This means different shapes and sizes. Thick pieces of cotton cord with knots at the ends are great for chewing. Heavy gum balls or Nylabone chew toys are safe and virtually indestructible.
Freezing the dog teething rings and leaving them in the cage or doggie area of the house provides gum relief and entertainment as well.
If you notice your puppy chewing on something that isn’t right, don’t punish him. Just say “No” and substitute whatever you want them to chew. Praise them when they chew the right things. Make sure you say something like “Good boy / girl to chew your ball (string, toy, stick)”. This helps the puppy learn the word for what he is chewing. Later you can say “Catch the ball / stick / rope” and the puppy will understand what you mean.
Toys to avoid
Some toys, even those sold in pet stores, should never be used with a puppy. Toys that are fragile or have many parts that can be chewed pose a choking hazard. Toys that have long cords or cords that could wrap around the puppy’s neck are potentially deadly toys.
Stuffed animals are appropriate for some puppies and larger dogs, but for younger puppies who constantly chew the stuffed animal it will quickly be destroyed. This leaves pieces of fabric and padding material that can be ingested causing gastrointestinal blockages and possible choking problems.
Natural bones, even raw ones, are generally not recommended for puppies. They are usually too hard for puppy teeth and lead to chipping and breaking of existing teeth. Also, puppies are more likely to try to swallow any splinters and this can cause bone splinters to lodge in the gums or throat. If you wish to allow your puppy to chew bones, make sure they are raw beef bones that come from a joint. Never allow your dog to eat pork bones or raw or cooked poultry bones of any kind. Supervise the puppy while he is chewing on the bone and remove it in case of chipping or when the bone becomes small enough for the puppy to swallow it.
The chewing phase in puppies, like the teething phase in babies, will pass. Taking a few precautions with your household items, providing plenty of alternative chew toys, and teaching your pup what to chew on stage will go smoothly now or in the future.
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