It's natural for a pup to explore items in his world by putting his mouth around them, and during the teething stage, it must feel wonderful to gnaw on things. Some individual dogs, as well as specific breeds, can be more oral than others and have a stronger desire to have things in their mouths well beyond puppyhood.
Trouble ensues when pup targets things we don't want him to touch: furniture, Manolo Blahniks, books, magazines, carpet fringe, drywall, TV remote, laptop, eyeglasses, your feet, garbage, the cat, cellphones, unlabeled containers of anthrax. Yes, anthrax. The dog won't know it's unsafe. And that's one of my two points:
They can't tell the difference between safe and unsafe. So while you may not have anthrax lying around the house, your pup can be at serious risk if he chews on electrical cords or gets into cleaning supplies or garbage bins.
Puppies don't know right/wrong or cheap/expensive -- they just chew because it feels good to do so.
You are correct. This is not a dog.
This is an agouti whose chewing prowess puts the most tenacious puppy land shark to shame. Delilah is sporting a piece of apple wood with holes drilled in it and food stuffed inside. The agouti version of a food puzzle!
To minimize inappropriate chewing while also keeping your pup safe and happy, keep these tips in mind:
Have a variety of safe toys and chewies with different shapes, textures and material. Swap out a selection of toys every couple of days to keep things novel and interesting to pup.
Invest in food puzzles, which are toys designed to be stuffed with food. It's a marvelous way to keep your pup's mouth appropriately occupied for longer swaths of time. (To see another article highlighting two puzzles in particular, click here.)
Be sure pup gets daily bouts of aerobic exercise. Well-exercised pups are less likely to get into mischief.
Never leave pup unsupervised, even for a minute. He's going to make choices you won't like, and that's on you!
Use safe containment, like an exercise pen, when you can't strictly supervise. Make this a pleasant place by feeding meals in there sometimes, littering it with nice chewies and food puzzles, etc.
These are just a few examples of the many interactive food puzzles available for your pup.
CORE TIP: if your pup practices targeting and chewing on specific items each and every day, this becomes an ingrained habit. Your job is to arrange his environment so he's consistently targeting APPROVED items.
Virginia Dare is a certified dog trainer & behavior counselor with decades of experience. Her business offers live video consultations anywhere in the US for training and behavior help, puppy matchmaking services, and pre- and post-arrival counseling for new puppies. She also provides in-home, private lessons and behavior consultations in northern Fairfield and Westchester counties, western New Haven county, Putnam and southern Dutchess counties.
Please visit www.NorthStarCanines.com/services to learn more, or contact me at 804.784.0120
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