Breaking a Puppy’s Chewing Habit

Puppies chew “stuff.” They chew on whatever is available. They aren’t connoisseurs of the best chewing materials. They’ll chew on an old house slipper or a new pair of Pradas; one is just as good as the other from the puppy’s point of view. The corner of an antique table works just as well as the corner of a chew toy when a puppy wants to chew.

If your puppy chews on your furniture, your shoes, your hands, or electric wires, it isn’t the puppy’s fault. The puppy is simply engaging in perfectly normal puppy behavior. It’s YOUR fault, so can the “no, no, bad dog” lecture.

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Sometimes puppies who didn’t chew will suddenly begin chewing everything he can get his mouth on at about three months of age. This is the time when the puppy’s permanent teeth are developing. Dogs don’t have all of their permanent teeth in place until they are about 6-10 months of age. And then they might continue chewing until they are two years old, as they develop their jaw muscles.

Sometimes dogs chew for the purpose of comforting themselves. Chewing relieves tension and stress in dogs. Dogs don’t have “hands.” They use their mouths to explore their world and the things that are in it.

But no matter what purpose your dog or puppy’s chewing is satisfying for him, for you the objective is to protect your “stuff” from becoming chewing material. Remember that your dog really does want to make you happy. He doesn’t want to do anything that will make you unhappy. But it is up to you to get the information about what is acceptable to chew and what is not acceptable to chew across to him.

Obedience training can help. Substituting a satisfactory chew for an unsatisfactory chew consistently can help. Meanwhile, keep your “stuff” out of the dog’s reach.

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