Ah, chewing. It’s the bane of most puppy parents when their little one resembles a tiny land shark instead of their fluffy bundle of canine cuteness. The most important thing you need to remember is that this, too, shall pass. Next, keep reading to learn how to stop your dog from chewing up all your stuff.
It can be helpful to understand why your sweet puppy is gnawing on everything up to and including your delicate fingers and toes. Chewing is common in puppies and some adolescent dogs. It’s also completely normal – necessary in fact. Puppies need to chew and there are several reasons for this. Similar to human toddlers who put all kinds of random things in their mouths, dogs use their mouth to explore the world. Before puppies learn an acceptable level of bite inhibition and what’s appropriate to chew on (and what is not), their explorations lead them to bite on just about everything.
Young puppies will chew on electric wires, furniture, rugs, shoes and body parts. Chewing is also enjoyable for dogs, especially when they are babies and teething. It feels physically good on their mouths and can be emotionally soothing similar to how a human baby sucks its thumb. Dogs will also chew out of boredom and even frustration.
So, dogs need to chew. However, they don’t need to chew on the things you don’t want them to chew on. It’s your job to teach your dog what is – and what isn’t – appropriate to chew on.
How to stop your dog from chewing up all your stuff:
Here are the steps to control your dog’s chewing so they meet their need in an acceptable fashion.
- Put everything you don’t want your dog to chew on out of his reach. That means shoes in closets, books on higher shelves, human toys put away, etc. Anything that can’t be moved such as furniture should be blocked so that your dog doesn’t have access to it. As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
- When interacting with your dog and she is nippy with you or your clothes, redirect her to appropriate chewing items like her own toys and dog chews such as Kongs. Nowadays you can even get teething rings for puppies. You may have to redirect your puppy many times during a play session so be patient, your dog will eventually learn that she can’t chew on you.
- I also like to teach a “leave it” cue to client dogs which can be used for chewing as well as things puppy may want to pick up on walks.
Puppy chewing is a fact of life and some dogs carry this habit into adulthood. If you are patient and consistent with making sure you supervise your dog and direct him to appropriate chew items when need be, teach him a strong “leave it” cue and provide lots of enriching toys and activities, those teething “nightmares” will easily fade into memory.
Read these articles for more information on stopping problem dog behaviors: