How to Train Puppies Not to Chew: Easy Tips to Curb a Dog’s Destructive Chewing

November 16, 2019
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

All puppies love to chew. Some lose interest as they reach adulthood, but some dogs never kick the habit. Early training can save pet owners frustration, tooth-marked chair legs, and shredded shoes.

Why Do Puppies Chew?

To eliminate destructive chewing, it’s important for pet owners to understand what motivates the behavior. Like babies, puppies who are teething often chew to make their gums feel better. Puppies also are curious like little babies and find chewing a good way to explore the new world around them. Many puppies chew to get exercise. And some chew just because they enjoy it.

Exercise and Mental Stimulation Lessens Destructive Chewing

Pet owners can eliminate a great deal of destructive chewing by making sure their dogs get enough physical and mental exercise. Many dogs chew when they become bored. They’re not doing this to get back at their owners for leaving them alone. They’re just looking for an activity to pass the time.

Pet owners can stimulate their dogs even when they have to be away. Here are a few ideas:

  • Try leaving a stuffable toy with a treat in the puppy’s play pen or crate.
  • Freeze stuffable toys to make the treats harder to extract.
  • Change out the toys left in a dog’s crate for variety.
  • Make a dog work for his dinner by putting food in a dispenser ball.

These are just a few ideas for keeping a dog's crate time becoming boring. They also offer a little bit of exercise when pet owners cannot be around.


Dogs and Puppies Need Supervision

Dogs can’t be expected to know the difference between a chew toy and a treasured belonging without a lot of training. For this reason, puppies should either be under close supervision or in a crate or play pen.

Allowing a puppy free reign of the home not only invites destructive chewing, but may result in serious injury. Electric cords or sharp household objects can be common targets for a new puppy’s eager jaws.

Puppy Proof to Prevent Destructive Chewing

Pet owners bringing a new puppy into the home will need to puppy proof just as they would for a curious toddler. Valuable items should be put out of reach, and baby gates should be set up to block off areas where family members aren’t able to supervise.

Reward a Puppy fore Chewing on an Appropriate Item

Puppy games often center on ropes and chewy toys. Playing with a puppy provides positive reinforcement for chewing on the things an owner wants him to chew on.

Chew toys are essential purchases for a new puppy, but don’t bring them all out at once. Variety keeps a dog interested. Plus, if a dog has too many options for chewing, he may conclude that anything in the near vicinity is meant to be mouthed.

What Pet Owners Should Do When a Puppy Chews

With most puppies, chewing is inevitable. It’s important for owners to keep their calm and look at the situation from the dog’s perspective.

For example, if an owner has been away for several hours and returns to find a mutilated designer handbag on the sofa, she needs to realize that punishment is futile. Dogs have very short-term memories and are unable to associate their behavior an hour ago with a torn, leather bag, and their owners’ yelling.

Sure, the puppy may slink away in what seems like a guilty manner, but he’s really just cowering at his master’s terrifying new dark side. In the future, this owner will want to remember to crate the puppy while out and put valuable items out of reach.

Another interesting problem occurs when owners actually reward their puppies for chewing without realizing it. Say a dog picks up a sock and heads for his favorite spot under the table. A vigilant owner may spring into action to chase the puppy down and retrieve the object. Unfortunately, the puppy will only interpret this as his favorite game of chase. It’s likely he’ll try the sock trick whenever he wants some fun and attention. In this case, an owner should calmly walk to the puppy and offer a favorite toy in exchange for the sock.

A final error pet owners commonly make is offering their dogs chew toys which look strikingly similar to shoes, or other off-limit items. Some owners actually give their puppies an old shoe and expect them to distinguish between the worn out sneaker and a new one. These types of toys will only confuse a dog and set back the training process.

Now that pet owners are on their way to eliminating destructive chewing, they may also be interested in related articles covering training puppies not to bite, working with dogs to eliminate jumping up for attention and basic obedience commands including sit, stay, and down.

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