“Don’t chew on that!” “What do you have?!” “That's my shoe!”
Brand new puppy owners know all too well the frustrations of living with a land shark with razor-sharp teeth…I mean a puppy. We all dream of a dog that only chews on appropriate toys and never the furniture, but… your puppy will never learn what you don't teach them! If we do not establish rules now by calmly and consistently showing our puppies what is and is not appropriate to chew, you will end up with an adult dog that destroys your possessions and potentially hurts themselves.
Puppies chew for many reasons! They are exploring a brand new world except without thumbs to help them, like you and I. Also, just like human babies, their mouths are sore from teething usually between 3-6 months. I remember my childhood Golden Retriever as a puppy chewing on baseboards anytime she was left to her own devices. You are only human and of course, have a busy life to lead; you can’t be expected to have eyes on your puppy 24/7.
Insert crate here! Crate training is extremely beneficial for many reasons when raising a puppy, including teaching them what they can chew on. Any time you are unable to fully supervise your puppy, they should be in a crate with a durable and safe toy. I like to fill a Kong toy with kibble that has been soaked in just a little bit of water and then frozen overnight. Not only is this rewarding and teaching your dog to work for their food, but the cold toy will feel great on their sore gums.
Of course, your puppy cannot be in their crate constantly. Start your puppy out in one room of the house, always under supervision. They will be able to earn the rest of the house when they start to understand what is expected of them. It is very important for you to consistently redirect any chewing behavior onto appropriate and safe items. Remember that your puppy does not know the rules of the house, so remain calm and fair when showing them right from wrong.
My current Golden Retriever is just under four months old and has quickly grasped the concept that shoes, rugs, and table legs (to name a few things) are not items she should be chewing on! This is not to say she doesn’t still think about it from time to time. I will watch her approach an item she should not be chewing on, pause for a moment and then turn away! Yayyy! In this moment, I am throwing her a party to let her know she made the right choice and to give her a toy to chew on as a reward.
If you’re thinking, “Gee, this sounds like a lot of work!” you aren't wrong. There is no magic wand that raises a dog for you! However, the more consistent you are with training your puppy, the quicker you will see lasting results!
What are some teething toys and tricks you have found to be helpful? Share with us in the comments below!