Although owning a puppy is an absolute joy most of the time, it can come with a few headaches. We are often asked how to stop puppies from chewing everything in sight. My top tips for minimising puppy destruction are:
- Give the puppy toys it can chew. It may sound obvious, but owners often fail to provide toys for puppies. Chewing is a natural behaviour designed to strengthen jaws and help teething, so you need to provide something to chew. If you don’t provide anything, your puppy will find something itself
- Remove things you don’t want chewed. Puppies aren’t born with a sense of what they can and can’t chew. If it is valuable, keep it out of the puppies reach
- Avoid mixed messages. Don’t provide old shoes to chew or other such objects as the puppy can’t tell the difference between an old shoe it can chew and a new one it can’t
- Training is essential. Puppies can be intelligent creatures, and if you don’t provide adequate mental and physical stimulation they can get bored, which can lead to destructive behaviour
- Ensure they have food to chew. Make sure the food you feed your puppy needs chewing. Tinned or “wet” food can be more palatable than biscuits, but it is often higher in fat and bad for their teeth. Biscuits and raw chicken wings and necks can provide good chewing opportunities.
- Only tell them off if you catch them chewing inappropriately. It’s a golden rule of dog training that you can only tell them off when you catch them performing the bad behaviour, including chewing the wrong thing, toileting in the wrong place, barking inappropriately, etc. You can’t tell them off if you get home and find things destroyed, as this can create anxiety problems and may make the destructive behaviour worse
For all puppies, we recommend Puppy Preschool. We run Puppy Preschool on Monday evenings, with the course lasting 4 weeks. It is a great chance to pick up handy tips on training and behaviour, as well as a chance to socialise your puppy in a safe and controlled environment. By attending Puppy Preschool at a vet clinic, it has the added advantage of teaching your dog that the vets is a fun place to come, so vet visits aren’t a scary and unpleasant experience for your pet.