Puppies and dogs chew. Period. They are hard wired to investigate with their mouths and do this by chewing on things. Chewing feels good to them and it also helps them burn energy! Your new pup is probably going to be curious about EVERYTHING. (especially if she’s a puppy or younger dog) Here are some tips to help set her up for success!
Start by dog-proofing your home. Put cell phones and tv remotes out of reach. Kid’s toys – in their rooms with the doors closed if possible. Important papers – file them away. Put your shoes in the closet with the door closed. Dirty socks in the hamper. Garbage cans can be especially tempting so place them in cabinets or otherwise out of reach.
When possible, keep bedroom doors closed and use baby gates to limit your pup’s access to rooms when no one is in them. When you can’t keep a close eye on her, put her in her crate or dog safe area with a chew toy or puzzle toy to help keep her occupied. You can also keep her close to you by tethering her to you with her leash. (This isn’t forever; it’s just while she gets used to your home. However, if you adopted a puppy or dog under 2 you’ll probably need to take these precautions for a while.)
Wear Her Out
Making sure your new dog is getting exercise will also help minimize destructive chewing. Here are some ideas to get you moving:
- Play hide and seek in the house or yard. You can line your pockets with stinky treats in the beginning to help her find you. Not only is this a fun game, but it will also teach her to look for you. BONUS!
- Do a treat hunt and let her search for treats throughout the house (you can also do this with a squeaky toy.) Make the treats easy to find at first. Once she knows how to play make it more challenging.
- Give her a doggie puzzle and with kibble/treats or a Nylabone chew toy. Better yet, feed her every day out of a puzzle toy so she gets to work for her food. (Dogs instinctively work for their food and many dogs need a job!)
- And of course, taking her for a walk, swim, or playing a game of fetch work great too!
Chew on This
OK, so you know how to prevent your pup from chewing on the wrong things, but she still NEEDS to chew! How do you teach her what you want her chew on? Giving your dog several good chew toys are key. Chewy fiber sticks or non-edible nylon bones are a few durable toys that most dogs love. Have a variety on hand if possible and rotate them every few days to keep her interested. Next, CATCH HER IN THE ACT! Give her lots of attention and “atta girls” when she plays with and chews on her toys. (How else is she going to learn what you want her to chew on?)
Make a Trade
What about when you catch your pup chewing on something other than her toys? Make a trade! Try to switch out the item with one of her toys or a few treats. Give her lots of praise when she gives you the item. Making a trade will help reinforce that giving things up can still be rewarding and it will make her much more apt to give up an item in the future. Now THAT’S a Win-Win!
Keep in mind that punishing your dog for chewing on the wrong thing will create a dog who hides when she chews on things. It will also damage your relationship. If you find an item she’s already chewed, you have missed your opportunity to teach her by making a trade. Just pick it up and try to do a better job of keeping items out of her reach and crating/supervising her.
Following these guidelines will help you satisfy your dog’s need to chew while also building a stronger bond between the two of you. And having that strong bond is what makes your pet a true member of the family!