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How to stop my puppy chewing things

catroon puppy with slipper
Let's face it - puppies use their mouths - alot. They bite things and chew things. It's how they investigate life!

But why do they chew - jeans, slippers, string, shoes, the curtains, the door, the carpet, the lino, your hands, your toes, tissues? Well, are they simply investigating the world and finding out what's fun and what's not? Do they simply need to have something to cut their teeth on, picking the nearest thing of the "right" texture? Are they simply bored? Do we let them just do it?

No! Even though it's natural, we can't simply let it happen and hope they'll grow out of it - really, we can't - once a puppy has found some kind of rewarding feedback from what they're doing, they'll do it again... and again.... and again..... So how can we stop it? Or rather - re-direct this natural, instinctive behaviour towards something acceptable and worthwhile?

kong doy toys
Teething - Puppies need to chew - or at least, it's something they find very enjoyable or comforting. So, let's give them something to chew! We can't pre-guess what they want to feel in their mouths at any particular point in time tho, so it's best to ensure there are lots of different textures and shapes to keep their interest. Chew toys vary in shape, texture and size such as: something hard, or hard rubber, or soft rubber, or something soft and plush, a ragger, a ball on a rope or something that they can really feel like they're chewing. Give them the chews and toys and encourage them to chew them. Then when they go to chew something they shouldn't, we can do the toy swap.

Attention - Here's what usually happens. Our puppy starts to gnaw on something and we shout - no stop it, or tell them off. We look at them. We pay them attention. We might even pick them up or give them a treat. Yeah! Puppy learns that chewing something not only feels good, but also gets our attention! Truly it's best to prevent opportunities to chew the wrong things. So, making sure rooms are puppy proof, that lots of appropriate chew toys are there, or using a pen or crate can help to keep our puppies out of mischief. Preventing unwanted behaviours can be much easier than fixing them later.

Boredom - Puppies are very inquisitive. They are made that way! They need to investigate as much of life as possible before they understand what fear is. If they don't investigate, they won't learn about life and when they grow up, they'll be scared of new things. Dogs are one of the most adaptive animals on the planet! Think about what they're capable of! So, again, we need to accept this and direct their teeth onto something appropriate. How? Guess what! It's the toy swap.

So what's the toy swap about?
dog ragger toys
It's about making the toy far more interesting and fun than whatever it is that they're biting or chewing. So, if they're chewing - or "mouthing" you, then rag the toy about a bit on the floor, to distract them away from the "bad" chewing, and then play with them for a bit with the new chew or toy. You also need to have little play sessions with toys with the puppy even when they're not chewing. What then happens is that they get lots of happy, fun times playing with the toys and that's now lots more fun than chewing you - which never seems now to escalate into any kind of chasing chewing fun.....

Is it really that simple?

Well, sometimes not... So what else can we do?

Puppy's usually don't like these bitter sprays

bitter apple spay to stop puppy chewing
Use a bitter tasting spray to stop them chewing jeans, shoes, furniture or their lead. There are lots on the market. Bitter Apple is more expensive but it seems to be disliked by more dogs than some of the others. It's a matter of picking one and if it doesn't work, try another one.

Teach Leave

Using modern positive methods to teach your puppy to leave things really teaches them that there is no point in doing what they're doing - the consequences are not rewarding - they'd be far better off trying some other behaviour.

Sadly some puppies can be aggressive and it's truly best to get some help from a good behaviourist or trainer to help your puppy learn how not to bite you. Your puppy won't grow out of this and could do alot of damage.

Read more help here for when you've just got your puppy