Stop dog chewing

Question:

How can I stop my puppy from chewing everything in sight?

Answer:

Puppies, like babies, tend to explore the environment by putting things in their mouths. The problem, of course, is that not everything a pup finds lying around is appropriate to chew, and many things can be downright dangerous.

Just as with a new baby, having a puppy requires a lifestyle adjustment. Pre-pup, you might have kicked off your shoes as you walked through the door, leaving them lying in the entryway. Maybe the kids left toys and socks strewn around the living room, or half-eaten sandwiches lingered on countertops. No more! From now on, you’ve got to be vigilant about not leaving tempting objects or food where the puppy can reach them. Performing a quick nightly scan of floors, low tables, and other places your dog can reach should become a habit. Close doors to rooms that are off limits, and be especially careful about leaving potentially toxic foods such as chocolate, grapes, or raisins where your puppy can get to them.

The other piece to this is to provide lots of appropriate chew toys that will be more enticing than, say, an old running shoe. A Kong — this is a hard, rubber snowman-shaped toy with a small hole at the top and a large hole at the bottom — is a great option . The idea is to stuff it with layers of food so that your dog will have to work at “excavating” through to the bottom. For example, start with a layer of canned food, than add a few pieces of kibble, a little more canned food, and then some bits of cookie. You can find plenty of recipes and stuffing ideas on the Kong Company website.

Interactive meal dispensers like the Molecuball, which your dog must roll with his nose and paw in order to get the food to spill out, also help to release energy in productive ways. Bully sticks make fine chew items as well.

The more your pup’s energy is directed toward acceptable activities, the less likely he is to engage in undesirable behaviors (like vacuuming the floor with his mouth). Be sure to provide plenty of exercise and training as well. If you do catch your dog chewing on something he shouldn’t, give a sharp verbal “Eh-eh!” to interrupt. Then call him to you, ask him to do something simple (such as sit), and give him an appropriate chew item. Above all, hang in there. The good news is that this behavior will naturally fade as your pup grows up, but all that you do now will help to curb it sooner and more effectively.