Controlling Your Puppy's Chewing Frenzy

Chewing is a puppy thing. It’s nothing personal. Like kids, puppies are curious about the world around them, and they love to explore. Additionally, puppies between 3-1/2 and 11 months are teething. During this time, your puppy may chew on furniture or your shoes to alleviate discomfort. To ward off possible destruction, supply and encourage the use of appropriate chew toys.

Offer one main toy plus surprises

Having too many objects to choose from can confuse your puppy. Pick a bone or toy that satisfies your puppy’s penchant for chewing, buy multiples of that item, and spread them around the house for quick access. Here are some other suggestions:

  • Keep your supply of play toys in a special place (designating a box or drawer), bringing them out for special interaction times.

  • Designate one toy that’s only offered during greetings.

Be aware of prize envy

If you yell at your puppy after he’s grabbed an object, he’ll think, “Prize envy!” In other words, he’ll think that whatever he has is valuable because you’re challenging him to get it back. If you give a correction too late, your puppy thinks “Wow, what a great prize — everybody wants to take it from me!” Your correction will have no effect except guaranteeing a repeat performance.

Avoid disciplining after the fact; your puppy won’t understand you. And remember, yelling is barking to a puppy, so he’ll bark back or interpret your aggression as an invitation to play rough. Set up situations so that you can correct your puppy’s thought process. Also, you can use treat cups after the puppy has already grabbed something you don’t want him to have.

Get Bitter Apple — and lots of it

Bitter Apple is nasty-tasting stuff that you can buy at most pet stores. You spray it on things you want to prevent your puppy from chewing. If you notice your puppy chewing on the furniture surrounding his station, spray everything but his bed and bone.

Also, if your puppy is chewing household items, such as wires or phone cords, discreetly approach your puppy and spray the object as he’s chewing it. Always provide your puppy with an appropriate chew toy after discouraging him. After you spray an object, say “Bone” and help him find it.

Believe it or not, some puppies like the taste of Bitter Apple. If your pup is a member of this club, try some red-pepper juice with a little garlic or Tabasco sauce. Or you can try a product called Bitter Bitters, which can be purchased only through your veterinarian.

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