If you have a puppy you probably know that puppy’s like to chew on everything. Your hand, a toy, the furniture, pretty much anything they can get their month on. Although this is a normal behavior for puppies, it does not mean you need to let them use your furniture, or you, as a teething ring. Join us as we explore ways to stop your puppy’s destructive chewing.
We have encountered this problem too. Although our 4 month old puppy Bella has approved chewing options, she prefers the dining room table’s legs. She is very sneaky about it too. Bella will start out by lying next to my daughter’s feet during dinner with an approved chew. When no one is watching she switches to the table leg. You can see the damage she managed to do in only a few short chewing sessions.
Why do dogs chew?
Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs. Most dogs will have the desire to chew all their lives. It is believed that it is instinctual. The instinct can be traced back to thousands of years ago when dogs had to chew through bones to survive. That instinct lives on in dogs today.
Puppies chew mainly because their teeth are coming in and it hurts. Chewing on things helps relieve some of that pain. Puppy “teething” tends to be at its worst between 1 to 8 weeks and again at 4 to 6 months. Although puppies will outgrow the teething stage, they may continue to be a destructive chewer if not properly corrected.
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Obsessive chewing may be caused by other issues like separation anxiety, hunger, or being weaned before seven weeks old. Each of these issues will have different remedies but for the purpose of this post we are going to stick with teething as the reason for chewing since it is the most common cause of destructive chewing with puppies.
Stop Your Puppy’s Destructive Chewing
In order to stop your puppy’s destructive chewing you need to use a three prong solution:
- Positive Corrections
Keep the place tidy
The best way to prevent your puppy from destroying your belongings is to keep your puppy away from them. Objects like shoes, furniture, electrical cords or children’s toys should be picked up and placed out of your puppy’s reach.
Limit where they can roam
Do not give your puppy the run of the house if they are unsupervised.
When we first brought Bella home we knew that with two young kids there was no way we would be able to keep the entire house neat all the time. So instead we confined her to the kitchen. Since it is the place where we spend most of our time, it made sense that she should be there too. At night she was placed in her crate in our bedroom. She was only allowed in other parts of the house when someone was watching her.
Slowly, as she learned her doggy manners and became housebroken we started to open up other areas of the house for her to roam. If she broke any rules like chewing on something she shouldn’t, she was then restricted back to the kitchen.
Tip: It is very important that you puppy proof your home before your puppy gets hurt. For a list of dangerous items and areas you might not think of, go to Puppy Proofing Your Home – 10 Silent Dangers
There are just some items that you can’t place out of your puppy’s reach, like the table or floor molding. Yep, our previous pup Molly decided to chew the floor molding. For these items you can either use a barrier to keep them from reaching the object, a bitter tasting spray or my favorite, a water gun.
Yes, I just said a water gun. Just a small one will do. Another option is to carry a spray bottle. Every time you catch them chewing on something they shouldn’t, spray them with a little water. This option worked great for our Golden Retriever who liked to counter surf. However, it only works if you catch them in the act.
A word on deterrent sprays
Just like people, dogs have different likes and dislikes. One bitter spray may have a different taste and smell then another one. There is no way of knowing which one will work for your puppy without trying them. With that said there are a few products that seem to work better than others. While none of the sprays recommended work 100% of the time, these sprays have at least a 64% approval rating.
Deterrent Spray Options
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PRO Anti Chew Spray For Dogs / Puppies – 68% approval rating
PRO Anti Chew Spray for Dogs & Puppies by Emmy’s Best is the only chewing deterrent that is alcohol free. Although not as widely known as the Bitter Apple sprays, people who use Pro Anti Chew have a higher approval rating.
Pro Anti Chew Spray combines a patient bitter agent with Tea Tree Oil to discourage chewing. They also include an interactive training program to eliminate chewing in 14 days.
It is safe to use on furniture, clothing, shoes, flooring, and more. This made in the USA spray includes an unconditional 1 year 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Grannick’s Bitter Apple Original Dog Spray – 64% approval rating
Grannick’s Bitter Apple Original Dog Spray is often recommended by dog lovers as a safe and effective chew deterrent.
The original spray was invented at Grannick’s Pharmacy at the request of a customer whose dog became nervous before shows and would lick and chew his coat. The pharmacist tried different bitter flavorings until he came up with a formula that worked.
This made in the USA spray has a combination of bitter apple and Isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) taste that deters chewing.
Tip: The sprays may not work the first time. It may take a few applications before your pup realizes that the item is always going to taste bad.
Dealing with the need to chew
As we discussed earlier all puppies chew due to the pain and discomfort of teething. Since puppies need to chew it is important to have acceptable items available for them to chew when needed. No one item will take care of all your puppy’s chewing needs. Just like children puppies get bored and need a variety of items to keep their interest.
A positive correction is when you replace an unwanted behavior (like chewing on your shoes) with an acceptable behavior. We have tried many types of acceptable chewing objects with varying results. In fact she might love something one day and be disinterested in it the next.
Tip: Start puppy training as soon as you can. A good way to start puppy training is to go to a puppy kindergarten class. Here they will teach you how to teach your new puppy basic commands like “Sit” “Come and “No”. Having these basic commands in place will help when you need to redirect your puppy from destructive chewing. Puppy Kindergarten classes and puppy socials will also give your energic pup a safe to place to play. A tired puppy is generally a good puppy. For more information on Puppy Socials read: Puppy Socialization Classes- What to expect
Here are a few that have worked for us.
Bella loves clean fresh carrots. In fact, whenever she sees the carrot bag come out she waits patiently hoping for a piece to come her way. The downside to giving her carrots is that as she gets older it takes her less time to eat them.
You can freeze the carrots to make them harder to chew and by default also take longer to eat. Whether fresh or frozen, make sure that you cut the pieces large enough to prevent choking (don’t use baby carrots) and limit the amount you give so it does not interfere with their main meals.
Hymalayan Dog Chew
What is it? These 100% all natural hard cheese chew snacks are made from Yak and Cow’s milk with a little salt and lime juice. Made in the Himalayan Mountains they contain no preservatives and are completely consumable. Because these tasty treats are so hard it takes a long time for my dog to eat it. Although not completely made in the USA (since it is from the Himalayans) these treats are processed and tested in the USA.
Tip: Never allow your dog to chew anything into a small enough piece that they can choke on or create an obstruction if swallowed.
The USA made Kong comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Fill the inside of the Kong with a thin layer of peanut butter, canned pumpkin, soft cheese or dog treats for hours of entertainment. You can freeze the filled Kong to make the filling last longer.
We have the original cone shaped Kong in large from our previous dog and small Kong for our puppy. When deciding on which size Kong to get, check to see if the opening is too big for your puppy. Your puppy should not be able to get his lower jaw into the Kong’s opening. It may get stuck.
The Kong is a classic dog toy that has been around a long time. Our first Kong lasted the entire life of our spaniel which was 15 years. We still have it. Most dogs love the Kong. The down side of the Kong is that it is a little difficult to clean. Use warm soapy water and a bottle brush to clean out any food residue that gets stuck.
Tip: Know what you are buying. Since the Kong is so popular many stores sell cheaper look a likes that are not as durable.
When choosing any toy for your puppy, consider the size of your pup compared to the size of the toy. Small toys are dangerous for large puppies that may be able to swallow it or break it apart if they can place the whole toy in their month. Large toys may be impossible for a small pup to play with.
Everlasting Treat Bento Ball Starmark
The Everlasting Treat Bento Ball is a soft rubber half ball with a space for the Everlasting hard edible chew on one side and a pocket to add your own small treats on the other. The rubber is free of latex, vinyl and phthalates and is dishwasher safe making it easy to keep clean. The purpose of the toy is to engage dogs to chew on the soft outside while trying to get to the hard flavored chew inside. There are nubs on the outside of the ball that gently cleans and massages the gums.
Everlasting Treat with Dental Ridges
The Bento Ball we purchased came with the Everlasting Treat with Dental Ridges. Although not truly everlasting the hard chew does last awhile as long as it remains in the ball. Once the treat is out of the ball it is fairly easily to eat. We love this toy because the soft outer ball is easy on our puppy’s teeth, while the hard inside satisfies her need to gnaw on something.
The first week Bella had the ball she kept working on getting to the hard chew on and off until she finally wore down the raised ridges on the chew. If you have an aggressive chewer it may take less time to get to the treat. They may also be able to rip the soft outside casing.
So, if you want to stop your puppy’s destructive chewing follow the three prong solution laid out in this post. It worked for us.
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