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How To Stop Puppy Chewing

Is your puppy chewing on your carpets, furniture, clothes and anything else he can get his little teeth into?

If so, the good news is that he's a perfectly normal pup...... but  you do need to discourage this behavior to protect her, and your home/belongings!

Chewing just comes naturally to your puppy.

It helps keep her little teeth clean, exercises her jaws, reduces teething pain and (in her opinion anyway) is just good, clean fun.

Unfortunately, realizing that this behavior is normal doesn't make it any less frustrating. Especially when you find her chewing the heel clean off your last surviving pair of shoes!

For the first four or five months, puppies chew as a way of exploring their environment and surroundings, much the same was as human babies go through a stage where they put everything in their mouths.

Two Dalmation puppies chewing on shoes

Then, as their baby teeth grow in, and then start to fall out to be replaced by their adult teeth, chewing and biting seems to reach a peak..

This is a normal puppy teething stage, but it can definitely be challenging!

Young puppies aren't deliberately disobeying you, or intentionally choosing the most expensive chair in the house to use as a teething ring.

They're just trying to satisfy their overwhelming need to chew; and if your Persian rug or favorite leather jacket is the nearest, and most attractive, proposition it's going to get teeth-marks on it.

Things You Can Do To Reduce The Problem

If you want to stop your pup chewing her way through everything you own you're going to have to be pro-active.

Close up headshot of Pug puppy chewing on a bone in the back yard

A few simple puppy-proofing steps will help cut down on the chewing frenzy and limit the number of forbidden items she can lay her paws (or teeth) on -

One of the first steps towards putting an end to the destruction, is to start by taking a walk in your puppy's boots!

It helps if, for a few minutes, you can try to forget that you're a 5 or 6 foot tall human, and instead pretend that you're a 14" high puppy.

When you try looking at your home and surroundings from your puppy's point of view (literally), you suddenly see all kinds of things that you don't want her to see.

In any home there are tons of things which you definitely don't want your puppy chewing on. Some you don't want damaged, others you don't want to hurt her.

I'd strongly suggest buying some Bitter Apple spray. This is exactly what it sounds like.... a bitter-tasting (but non-toxic) spray that's been specifically formulated to discourage puppy chewing behavior.

Puppies are especially attracted to any item that has the scent of their family members on it.

This is why their most favorite puppy chewing objects are often clothes, shoes, hats, pens, purses etc.

To help your puppy tell the difference between what she can chew and what she can't, make sure not to confuse her by allowing her to chew on old shoes, knotted up socks or your kids discarded soft toys.

Remember she's only a baby and can't tell the difference between your old, beaten up running shoe and the brand new Nike's you bought yesterday.

Supervision & Confinement

Even if you've done a great job of puppy-proofing your home you're not done yet.

When you're trying to stop a puppy from chewing you have to take a  multi-pronged approach, because I can guarantee you that little Fifi will still be able to find some forbidden treasure to chew on, no matter how well you puppy-proof your home.

The next step is to make sure your pup is supervised whenever she has free access to your home.

This may be a good place to mention that a small puppy should rarely be free to roam around the house, and never be allowed to do so unsupervised.

Obviously even puppy parents have lives and you can't be glued to your little furball's side 24/7 so - whenever you can't supervise Fifi make sure she's confined somewhere safe.

The best option here is often a crate (find out how crate training can benefit both you and your puppy) or you can set up a small exercise pen or playpen. You can even use a gate to keep her in the kitchen with you.

And wherever you choose to confine her make sure she has several interesting, safe and durable toys to keep her amused. Sturdy Nylabones and Kong toys are a good choice, and there are tons of excellent puppy teething toys on the market.

For a great selection of natural puppy chews, check out this page. All-natural, majority are fully digestible, all are healthy options for your puppy to exercise his teeth and jaws on.

Puppies get tired of the same toys pretty quickly. To keep your little one interested in her toy box it's a good idea to have a fairly large selection (maybe a dozen or so) of good quality dog toys and swap them out every 2 or 3 days.

If your absolutely set on your little one having a nice soft, comfy bed to sleep on, I'd highly recommend investing in a chew-resistant dog bed. You won't find these in your local pet store, but there are some great choices online and they're pricier than your average dog bed.

However, while they will last longer, and often come with a guarantee or replacement warranty of some sort, most puppies will still use them as chew toys!

Correction & Distraction

When your puppy is chewing on something that is NOT a toy and therefore a forbidden object, you need to correct her right away and then move her attention towards one of her toys or something she IS allowed to chew.

Tell her "No chew" in a firm, but kind, voice (don't shout or scare her) and then either remove her from the vicinity of the object she's chewing on (if it's furniture or a rug or whatever) or remove the object from her vicinity (if it's a shoe, clothing, kids toys etc.).

Right away distract her with a toy or bone that she IS allowed to chew on so that she forgets about the forbidden object quickly.

If you really want to stop this indiscriminate puppy chewing behavior, you need to correct her in the same way every single time. Repetition and consistency is hugely important.

exchange like for like

If she's chewing on something hard like a wooden building block, furniture or your hairdryer, replace it with a hard toy such as a sturdy bone or rubber toy.

If she has your T-shirt or your daughter's soft toy, replace it with one of her own soft toys.

Exchanging like for like is your best bet for keeping her busy with her own new treasure.

The 'Bait & Switch' Technique 

Okay, so what if your pup is in the living room and you've turned your back for a minute and she suddenly streaks past you with your sons baseball glove clamped firmly between her teeth?

Shih Tzu Maltese cross puppy with chew stick in her mouth

First do not run after her - yes I do know how much that glove cost - but that tactic won't work!

When you chase your puppy she thinks it's a delicious new game and I promise you she'll be better at 'tag' than you are. Besides, even if you do succeed in catching her she'll be so excited that she'll have death grip on that baseball glove and you're going to be surprised by how much pressure per square inch those little jaws can exert!

Here's what you do instead:

Pick up one of her very favorite toys and get a tasty treat (try to keep a stash of treats and a special toy handy for just this purpose), then call your puppy's name in a bright, happy voice and say something like this:

"Oh Fifi! What have you got there? Oh my goodness, can I see that?"

Your puppy will probably come bounding over to show you her prize, her little tail wagging up a storm. When she gets to you, slowly take hold of her collar and show her the tasty treat in your hand. Chances are good she'll drop the stolen item right away. If she doesn't, gently remove it from her mouth. Then offer her the treat in exchange. It's a win-win. Repeat this routine every time she grabs something forbidden.

Puppies learn through repetition, so be firm and consistent and she'll get the message.

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