We've all been there -- you go into your closet, pull out your favorite pair of shoes and suddenly you notice that they've been torn to pieces. Who's to blame? The new puppy, of course.
Here are some guidelines to keep your puppy’s chewing behavior under control!
1. Be attentive.Much like you would with a baby, always keep an eye on your puppy to protect them from their own curiosity and lack of experience.
2. Contain the situation.If you have to leave your puppy alone, whether for a long portion of the day or for only a little while (like a trip to the grocery store), make sure that they are confined in a secure place, such as in a dog crate or in an area of your house that has been set aside just for them, equipped with child or pet-proof gates to secure the area. Puppies usually begin chewing on things when they are alone and bored, often getting into trouble or suffering injury when given free rein to roam around an unsupervised house. The area where you confine your puppy must be free of objects that they can chew on, except for those chew toys that have been specifically chosen for their age appropriateness.
3. Leave your scent behind.If you are leaving your puppy for a longer duration, rolling their favorite toy between your hands will give them something to remember you by. Avoid making an emotional farewell so that your puppy does not respond with anxiety, which can lead to whining, barking, and other destructive behaviors. Many puppy owners have also found that leaving calm and soothing music playing will help to put an anxious puppy at ease.
4. Prevention is key. You must put away all of the things your puppy can get into their mouth. Even things that appear to be out of reach, may be reached by a diligent puppy. This includes shoes, children’s toys (especially small toys that your puppy can choke on), articles of clothing (particularly socks and undergarments), plastic bags, containers of medicine, wallets, purses, etc. Do not ever allow the puppy to go into the bathroom unsupervised, since there are a lot of objects that you do not want to have chewed and scattered throughout the house. This includes items commonly found in the wastebasket, but also rolls of toilet paper. You must also be sure to store valuable objects, such as jewelry, in a safe place that the puppy cannot reach; a closed closet, dresser drawer, or cabinet is best.
5. Choose puppy toys wisely. Many plush animals have pieces that can fall off or be chewed off, becoming a choking hazard. Only buy plush toys that have been designed with a puppy’s safety in mind.
6. Discipline when appropriate. Your puppy needs to be taught early on that they can only chew on things that have been given to them, but before they are mentally and emotionally mature enough to understand and remember these lessons, you will need to keep everything else out of their reach.
7. Correct then divert. When you do find them chewing on an inappropriate object, correct them and then divert their attention to the object that you have chosen as appropriate for chew time. This object can be a durable rubber bone or a heavy-duty toy that cannot be shredded.
8. Do not give your puppy an old shoe or old socks to chew on. You are unintentionally teaching them that it is acceptable to chew on shoes and socks, and there will come a day when one of your very favorite or very expensive shoes ends up as puppy fodder. Your puppy — or adult dog, for that matter — cannot be expected to distinguish which shoes are the good ones and which ones are for them.
9. Create "real life" scenarios. As your puppy matures, tempt them by scattering a few different objects on the floor, including their favorite toy. The purpose of this is to teach them to ignore the objects that are forbidden. While we still advise not leaving objects lying around, it is bound to happen eventually. Training your puppy as they reach the mature age to remember and obey their lessons, will ensure both their safety and the safety of your possessions. Let your puppy lie down and pretend that you are busy doing something when you are really keeping an eye on them. When you see them begin to take a forbidden object into their mouth, reprimand them with a firm (not loud) "No!" and give them the favorite toy. Repeating this type of exercise will teach them not to chew on other objects when you are with them. As it becomes clear that they are learning the lesson, you can try leaving the room for a short while (less than 30 seconds). Immediately return so that you can catch them if they take a forbidden object, and immediately reprimand them, again giving the bone to replace the object. Repeating this exercise will teach them to chew only on their bone even when you are not around. With that being said, the best prevention is to not leave anything to chance. Be sure to pick everything up except what your dog is allowed to chew.
10. Exercise daily. Age and breed appropriate exercise every day will ensure that your puppy will not get bored. It also helps to keep their energy levels balanced and their metabolism at normal levels. Boredom and high energy levels are some of the most common reasons for destructive behavior.