My Puppy is a Chewing Machine!


By Tony Wolfe/Tail Waggin’ Dog Training


chewing dogPuppies may be just as much work as human babies – maybe more so because puppies can’t wear diapers and they have very sharp teeth!! It’s definitely true that, similar to infants and toddlers, puppies explore their world by putting things in their mouths. In addition,puppies are teething until they’re about 6 months old, which usually creates some discomfort. Chewing not only facilitates teething, but also makes sore gums feel better. Although it’s perfectly normal for a puppy to chew on furniture, shoes, shrubbery and such, these behaviors can be a problem for you. A puppy won’t magically outgrow these behaviors as he matures. Instead, you must shape your puppy’s behaviors and teach him which ones are acceptable and which aren’t.It’s virtually inevitable that your puppy will, at some point, chew up something you value. This is part of raising a puppy! You can, however, prevent most problems by taking the following precautions:

  •  Minimize chewing problems by puppy proofing your house. Put the trash out of reach, inside a cabinet or outside on a porch, or buy containers with locking lids. Don’t leave socks, shoes, eyeglasses, papers, or TV remotes lying around within your puppies reach.
  • If, and only if, you catch your puppy chewing on something he shouldn’t, interrupt the behavior with redirection, then offer him an
    acceptable chew toy instead and praise him lavishly when he takes the toy in his mouth.
  • Make unacceptable chew items unpleasant to your puppy. Furniture and other items can be coated with “Bitter Apple” to make them unappealing.
  • Don’t give your puppy objects to play with such as old socks, old shoes, or old children’s toys that closely resemble items that are
    off-limits. Puppies can’t tell the difference.
  • Closely supervise your puppy. Don’t give him the chance to go off by himself and get into trouble. Use baby gates and close doors.
  • When you must be gone from the house, confine your puppy to a small, safe area such as a crate.
  • Make sure your puppy is getting adequate physical activity.Take your puppy for walks and/or play a game of fetch with him as often as possible.
  • Give your puppy plenty of “people time”. He can only learn the rules of your house when he’s with you.

Encouraging Acceptable Behavior

  • Provide your puppy with lots of appropriate toys: Any Kong products, Buster Cubes, Cuz Balls, are just some examples. Let your dog know when he/she is chewing on an appropriate toy.
  • Rotate your puppy’s toys. Puppies are often more interested in unfamiliar or novel objects. Put out four or five toys for a few days, then pick those up somewhere they won’t be able to get to them and put four or five new ones out.
  • Experiment with different kinds of toys. When you introduce a new toy to your puppy, watch him to make sure he won’t tear it up and ingest the pieces.
  • Consider the various types of toys that can be stuffed with food. Putting tidbits of food inside toys focuses your puppy’s chewing activities on those toys instead of unacceptable objects.

What Not to Do

Never discipline or punish your puppy after the fact. If you discover a chewed item even minutes after he’s chewed it, you’re to late to administer a correction. Animals associate punishment with what they are doing at the time that they are being punished. A puppy can’t reason that, “I tore up those shoes an hour ago and that’s why I’m being scolded now.” Some people believe this is what a puppy is thinking because he runs and hides or because he “looks guilty.” “Guilty looks” are canine submissive postures that dogs show when they’re threatened. When you’re angry and upset, the puppy feels threatened by your tone of voice, body postures and/or facial expressions, so he may hide or show submissive postures. Punishment after-the-fact will not only fail to eliminate the undesirable behavior, but could provoke other undesirable behaviors, as well.

Tony is a frequent speaker at our Saturday Meet and Greets here at Green Cottage Pets.

He genuinely cares about dogs and their owners and we thank him for sharing his knowledge with all of us.

Reach Tony at


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