Dog Chewing – 5 Steps to Stopping It

dog chewing

All dog owners have been there.  The wondering “how do I stop my dog from chewing on things they shouldn’t?”.  Dogs chewing inappropriately is a fairly common problem in young dogs.  This behavior usually starts when they are puppies, and if not corrected, will linger into adulthood.

Why Puppies Chew Things

When puppies are very young, they begin the teething process.  At about three to eight weeks old a puppy begins to get their first set of teeth.  At approximately four to six months those teeth will be replaced by permanent teeth.  Teething is painful.  The pup’s chewing behavior is in response to irritated gums.  Chewing temporarily relieves some of the discomfort.

In addition, puppies use their mouths to explore. So, you can expect that little Fido will want to explore everything in their new surroundings.  If you’ve ever had a puppy you know that means shoes, baseboards, furniture and almost anything eye level for them.

dog chewing

Working to Correct Inappropriate Dog Chewing

Rule Out Medical Issues for Dog Chewing

The first step in correcting inappropriate dog chewing is to ensure it’s not because of a health issue. Sometimes, puppies and dogs have nutritional deficiencies.  These deficiencies can be the result of a poor diet or an intestinal parasite.  Making an appointment with your v

eterinarian will rule out any underlying medical condition. Once that is established, it’s time to focus on operation Stop My Dog from Chewing on Everything.

Puppy Proof Your Space

Not unlike planning for a new baby, puppy proofing your home is important. Take stock of your space and any possible dangers to your explore-minded pup.  For instance, household cleaners and chemicals should be moved out of reach.  Also, relocate plants that can be toxic to animals, too.  

Consistently Encourage Appropriate Chewing

The key to changing any behavior in your pup is being consistent.  This helps to reinforce your expectations. Your dog wants to please you.  Making it easy for them to understand goes a long way.

Appropriate chewing is on items that are designated as theirs.  This includes chew toys, stuffed toys, balls, nylabones, Greenies, and puzzle toys, as a start. Your Professional Dog Trainer can make age-appropriate suggestions, too.  The item should be small enough that they can pick it up to carry it, and large enough not to be a choking hazard.  Also, be careful at this young age about introducing animal bones or rawhides which can create choking hazards.

Every pup has their own personality and preferences.  It may take some trial and error to find the items your dog will like best. Once you find what they like, let dog chewing commence with encouragement. 

Encouraging your pup with an approving tone of “good boy” is a great way to let your dog know you are pleased with what they are doing.

Consistently Discourage Inappropriate Chewing

By puppy proofing your home, you’re already minimizing the mischief they can get into.  However, if you do find your dog chewing on an inappropriate item, correct them quickly.  That means taking the object away and gently scolding them.  A strong verbal “No” will do the trick.  Then, quickly replace it with an appropriate item and praise them when they begin chewing/playing with it instead.

Gradually, your pup will learn what objects are theirs and which are off limits. Discouraging inappropriate chewing is more difficult once a pattern is established.  If necessary, taste deterrents made especially for pets can be applied to the item you don’t want them chewing.

Play With Your Dog

Playing with your dog is good for everyone.  A tired dog is one that won’t get into mischief.  Spend time playing and exercising with your dog on a regular basis.  This is especially true when they are puppies.  This helps build your bond with them and expends energy that Fido might otherwise turn toward your favorite shoes.

For more information about this subject or general questions you can contact:

Christi Knight, CPDT with Posh Paws Pet Care, LLC
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