How to Stop a Puppy from Chewing

One of the most frustrating things about getting a new puppy is their drive to chew.  But, you must remember that it is, in fact, a drive.  Dogs do not chew things out of spite or malice, they do so out of boredom, loneliness, frustration, teething pains and a compulsion to have fun.  Your job as their owner is to give them positive outlets they will prefer over destructive chewing so that they don’t chew inappropriately and cause problems at home.

One of the first main mistakes people make when they bring home a new puppy is to give them free reign of the house.  Bad idea.  When you have brought home an untrained puppy, you can not yet trust him with the responsibility of free reign of the house.

The first step you should take to properly training you new puppy is to give him a designated area of the house that is his to play in.  A guest bedroom, a small bathroom, a garage or a basement are all good options if they have been properly puppy-proofed.  This is the area he will stay in when you can’t keep an eye on him and you can not put him in the yard.

Dogs often chew out of boredom.  To keep him entertained, litter his “room” with all sorts of dog toys that he can safely chew on.  There are all sorts of toys out there, from those that are bones or rawhide to those that look like stuffed animals or those that you have to bat around to retrieve treats out of.  Make sure he has plenty of positive chew options and no negative options in his room.  He will have no choice but to chew on his appropriate chew toys and will associate them with what is allowed to chew on.

One thing to keep in mind is that once a dog chews something and finds that it is pleasurable to do so, it is nearly impossible for him to learn that, so first impressions about chewing are important.  Keep anything small enough for your puppy to chew up and put away from him or keep him in an area where those things aren’t.

Additionally, make sure that the things you want your dog to chew on are very exciting to play with.  You can smear peanut butter into grooved toys, soak raw-hides or bones in chicken broth and let them dry out, find toys that are very engaging to play with. Make sure your puppy has a good reason to play with his toys!

Oftentimes, puppies chew near the end of the day, right before you get home from work. They are ready for you to be home to play with and just about can’t take it anymore!  They are frustrated from anticipating you and have the potential to do some destructive chewing.  So, your job as their supportive and smart owner is to harness this frustration.

Teach your dog to bring you they’re toy/toys when you get home.  When you walk in from work and they excitedly greet you, do not pay them any attention other than to tell them to find they’re toy/toys.  Help them find they’re toys if they need to for the first few days.  Once they have gotten that part down, do not do any happy greeting at the end of the day until they have brought you they’re toy.  Then praise them excessively.

They will learn that you do not say hello unless they have a toy, not their foot, for you and they will be encouraged to play with their toys close to the time you get home, right when they are most prone to chewing on inappropriate things.

Mark Mansfield

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