Prevent Your Puppy's
It's perfectly natural for puppies to
want to explore their surroundings. Two primary ways of getting to know
the world around them are through their noses and mouths, which is why
many puppies can be seen smelling or chewing on just about everything
Preventing Destructive Chewing Using a Constructive Multi-Pronged
Not long ago I trained an
adorable five-month-old Labrador Retriever puppy whose owner had tried
for months to correct her puppy's chronic chewing problem.
Prior to meeting with her, she had attempted to solve the problem by
disciplining her puppy after-the-fact, whenever she returned home from
work and found that he had chewed something. The chewing continued, and
so did the discipline, until finally she realized that nothing was
getting any better.
Then one day -- in a desperate attempt to curtail her puppy's
destructiveness -- she went out and bought over a hundred dollars worth
of chew toys and rawhide bones!
According to the owner, it was heaven for the first couple of days while
the puppy played with all his exciting new toys and left the furniture
intact. It didn't take long, however, for the puppy to grow bored and
return to gnawing on chair legs, sofa cushions, and rug fringes.
Soon after, she called me to set up an appointment. When I arrived
almost a week later for our initial consultation, I noticed that the
living room was a virtual Toys-R-Us for puppies! And clearly, neither
after-the-fact discipline nor truckloads worth of puppy toys were the
answer. Instead, I recommended the following multi-prong approach to
correcting the puppy's chewing problem:
1)Puppy-proof your home . Instead of constantly reprimanding a
young puppy for getting into things, puppy-proof any areas of the house
to which your puppy will be given access, in much the same way one would
child-proof an area for a baby:
- Temporarily take up any throw rugs.
- Place all plants, poisonous
substances, household cleaners, trash receptacles, paper products
(such as tissue and toilet paper), shoes, and any small chewable
objects out of reach.
- Either remove, cover or tape down
all accessible electrical wires.
- Remove or secure heavy objects
which could fall or be pulled down and cause injury to the puppy.
2)Limit the number of toys.
While all puppies should have toys to play with, the problem with
providing your puppy with too many toys is that it makes it more
difficult for the puppy to differentiate what's his from what's yours.
Do not provide a destructive puppy with more than a few toys at a time.
(This rule does not apply to dogs who are not destructive chewers).
3) Safely confine your puppy. Use a suitably sized crate or
wire-reinforced puppy gate whenever you're unable to safely supervise
him. When introduced properly and used correctly, crate
training is a safe, preventive, effective and humane housetraining
tool, which provides the puppy with a secure, protective den, while
offering his owner peace of mind. Please note: Introduce your puppy to
his new crate using positive association (ei: feed him in his crate),
and never use his crate as a punishment.
4) Offer him lots of outdoor exercise. Puppies who are
destructive indoors, need one to two hours of active outdoor exercise
daily, provided they are fully immunized. Teaching your puppy to
retrieve a ball, toy, or Frisbee will help cure his chronic chewing
problem. [Note: If your puppy doesn't have all of his "shots"
yet, it is probably NOT safe to allow him to play with other dogs (other
than those who are aready part of your household) or to give him any
access to outdoor areas where neighborhood dogs go. Final " puppy
shots" are usually administered by a veterinarian when a puppy is
around 16 weeks of age.]
5)Offer your (fully vaccinated) puppy playtime with a puppy playmate.
Lots of active play each day, keeps the hyperactive puppy demons away !
6)Obedience train your puppy. Just 5 to 15 minutes of training a
day can make a big difference. For young, immature and hyperactive
puppies who have difficulty concentrating during lengthy obedience
lessons, even a few 30-second obedience training
"mini-sessions" offered on a daily basis will prove very
helpful. Remember to remain upbeat throughout, and always end your
sessions on positive note!
There are several ways you can learn how to train your dog, including:
For more information, please visit our
section. 7) Enroll your (vaccinated) puppy in an agility training
class. Agility training helps build coordination and confidence,
offers your puppy substantial exercise, and is great fun!
8)Apply Bitter Apple spray or salve to accessible woodwork and
furniture legs. The bitter taste is usually an effective deterrent
for most puppies.
9)Avoid the futile after-the-fact discipline syndrome. In order
to successfully correct your puppy's misbehavior, you must either catch
your puppy in the act, or, better yet, work on preventing his
misbehavior to begin with.
10)Consider enlisting the help of a reputable dog trainer or canine
behavioral consultant if despite these steps, your puppy still acts
like a canine demolition crew.
Choose Suitable Chew Toys
Rather than attempting to stifle your puppy's chewing tendencies, his
desire to chew should be constructively channeled and directed towards
acceptable items such as his chew toys. Avoid giving your puppy
discarded socks, shoes, sneakers or other articles of clothing. While
some puppies may learn to differentiate between those things which are
his and those which are yours, most puppies cannot.
When it comes to choosing which toys to give your puppy, these are the
primary qualities to look for:
. Only allow him those toys and balls which can not be chewed apart or
accidentally swallowed. Also, beware of bells, buttons and squeakers,
which may be hazardous if chewed off of a toy and swallowed.
Good chew toys should last a long time.
If it s not, your puppy won't want to play with it.
- Ease of cleaning.
After all, who wants to spend all of their time cleaning chew toys?
I especially recommend the
The Tuffy or Kong. These are not only great chew toys, but are also
great retrieve toys as well. They have plenty of "give" for
puppies who are teething, and are also virtually indestructible for most
dogs. In my opinoin, they are two of the best puppy toys on the market.
2) Cresite, Beefy Baseball, or other durable rubber balls. Both
the solid and hollow thick rubber balls can be rolled across floor for
puppy to chase and chew.
3) Tennis balls are perfect for teaching medium to large sized
puppies to retrieve.
4) Starballs. These odd-shaped, erratic-bouncing balls are ideal
for the consummate retriever who likes a bit of a challenge.
5) Mutt Pucks, which are both hardy enough to last with most
puppies, yet are not so hard as to discourage chewing. (Some dogs can
chew their toys apart in a surprisingly short period of time. Should
this happen with your puppy, remove any pieces which can be swallowed
6) Buster Cubes and Actvity Balls. Fill these toys with kibble or
your puppy's favorite treats and watch the fun begin.
7) For special occasions, make "Puppy Cannolis":
hollowed, sterilized beef marrow bones, which can be filled with a thick
kibble-based mixture, then frozen.
To make the mixture, place I cup dry dog food kibble, 1 small cube of
freeze-dried liver, crushed into powder, 1 teaspoon powdered or fresh
pressed garlic, and 1 cup warm water. Mix well and let sit for 1 hour.
Stuff mixture into beef marrow bone. Cover edges with approx.1
tablespoon cream cheese or soft Velveeta cheese (optional). Freeze
overnight (also optional).
Frozen "Puppy Cannolis" should be considered and extra special
treat, and offered only on an occasional basis. Make sure the beef
marrow bone is big enough that it can't be swallowed, and that bone
fragments are not eaten. Owner supervision is advised.
Copyright 1995 - 2000, Robin Kovary