Everyone who has had a puppy will have some experience of “chewed shoe syndrome” as their puppy goes through the normal teething process. In fact chewing is fairly common in young dogs as puppies use their mouths as a means of exploring the world around them. It’s perfectly normal behavior for puppies but becomes a headache when your shoes, furniture, or even your hands and feet are the target! So what is appropriate versus inappropriate chewing?
Your puppy’s first teeth will come through between three to eight weeks of age and at around four to six months these teeth will be gradually replaced with permanent teeth. The process of teething is painful for all young animals and your puppy will chew more during this period because their gums get sore and the act of chewing relieves their discomfort. However if you allow your puppy to carry on chewing whatever and whenever they like, then it can become a real problem even after all the adult teeth emerge and teething ends.
The first thing to do is accept that it will happen so “puppy proof” your house or flat. Imagine that you are an inquisitive puppy and take a look around to see any dangerous electrical leads that are at puppy height. Put household cleaners and chemicals out of reach along with potentially toxic plants. Your puppy likes things that smell of you so make sure your shoes sock etc are all out of reach and simply block access to rooms that have not been puppy proofed. Finally consider crate training your dog for the times when he cannot be supervised. Its not cruel!
The other obvious thing is to provide appropriate chew toys for your puppy to play with. Every dog has their own personal favourite as to what it prefers to chew and play with. There is a HUGE range of hard rubber and nylon chew toys out there and some that can be chilled in a freezer to give extra comport to a teething pup. Toys such as Kongs work great but make 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 big enough so that it can’t be swallowed and if you buy your dog a Kong type toy make sure the hole in the toy is not so big that the dog can get his lower jaw stuck in it. There have been cases where a dog gets toy stuck in his mouth. Be careful with rawhide and beef bones as determined chewers can whittle them down to smaller pieces that can be swallowed. Avoid chicken bones since they splinter easily creating sharp fragments that can easily puncture your dog’s gut. Nylabones and dental chewsticks encourage appropriate chewing while combating dental disease. but never give your puppy a toy that resembles an inappropriate item. So for example don’t give your dog an old shoe to chew on because how will he know the difference between the old chew shoe and your brand new pair of Jimmy Choo’s? ( Did you see what I did there?)
So if you do find your dog chewing on something inappropriate, calmly correct the dog by taking the object away and let him know that you are not happy before swapping it with a chewy toy. Then of course give him lots of praise when he starts chewing the toy!
Gradually, your dog should learn what objects are his and which are not but sometimes it can be difficult to discourage chewing if the pattern is already established. A lot of dogs left home alone suffer from separation anxiety and chewing is often a symptom.
Finally, spend time playing and exercising with your dog on a regular basis. It’s great for both of you and not only reinforces the bond between you but expends energy that your dog might be otherwise directed to inappropriate chewing and behaviors.
If all else fails then there are some sprays available!