Puppy Chewing 101
Owning a puppy can bring immeasurable joy and enrichment to the lives of everyone involved. Who can resist their boundless energy and unconditional love? One thing most puppy parents can resist, however, is the incessant chewing. Those cute little creatures will chomp on just about anything they can get their oversized paws on. So what can you do to help your four-legged family member through this challenging stage and (hopefully) salvage your shoes and furniture?
First, you have to understand why puppies chew. Between the ages of 2 to 8 weeks, puppies get all 28 of their baby teeth. Then, by the time they reach 8 months, all of those baby teeth are replaced by 42 permanent teeth. This means that your puppy spends most of the first year of his life teething. Just as with human babies, teething causes gum discomfort, which results in the desire to chew. Everything. As frustrating as it can be it’s important to remember that this is a natural phase that all puppies experience and that patience, consistency and love are important to getting through it together.
So what can you do about it? While you can’t stop chewing behavior altogether, you can provide your dog with alternatives. The best way to keep your puppy from destroying all of your property with her little teeth is by making sure that she always has access to something that is acceptable to for her to chew on. There are hundreds if not thousands of different chew toys to choose from, and you may find that your pup has a preference for one style over another. (Just be careful to select toys that are specifically designed for puppies and won’t pose a choking hazard.)
Next, make sure you keep enough chew toys available so that there is always one accessible whenever needed. When you notice your puppy beginning to gnaw on something (or someone) inappropriate, firmly say “NO” and present him with a chew toy to distract him. Doing this consistently will reinforce what is and isn’t ok for your puppy to chew on and provide him with a means to fulfill his natural desire to chew.
While these techniques and alternatives won’t necessarily guarantee that a few of your household items won’t fall victim to your puppy’s ravaging teeth, they should help keep the behavior under control until he or she moves out of this natural stage of puppyhood.