Puppies need to chew. In fact, chewing occupies a large part of their day. They chew:
· To learn about their world,
· To exercise their jaws,
· To test their rank,
· To help ease the discomfort of teething,
· To pass the time.
You can either provide plenty of approved chewing opportunities for the puppy or suffer the consequences when the puppy finds things on his/her own to chew on. When a puppy must be left in its crate or its safe room, it should have a chew or a toy to keep it occupied. Even when a puppy is with its owners, it should have something to chew on. After all, someone won’t be playing with the puppy every moment. A chew or toy will keep a puppy occupied when the humans are busy with something else. The easiest way to prevent damage to possessions is to not let it happen at all. Keeping a puppy under observation is the surest way to nip inappropriate chewing in the bud. But it’s rare that an owner is completely successful in this task. Therefore, some remedial action may be necessary. If a puppy is caught in the act of chewing a forbidden object, take the object away from the puppy (or the puppy away from the object if the object is too large to move). Immediately provide a suitable substitute, and praise the puppy for chewing on it. Trying to stop a pup from chewing is like trying to stop water from flowing downhill. Always provide an appropriate alternative immediately. To help implant the idea that some things are permissible to chew and some things aren’t, you can use taste deterrents. A product such as Bitter Apple, leave an unpleasant taste on surfaces. The goal is to teach the puppy not to put its mouth on that object again. Taste deterrents are effective with many, but not all, dogs.
A young puppy shouldn’t cause chewing problems outdoors, because a puppy shouldn’t be allowed outdoors alone. As a puppy gets older, however, it may spend some time alone in a safely fenced yard. This is when trouble can start and it can be just as hazardous as the trouble caused by indoor chewing. Electrical cords may be on decks, beside doors, or along paths for outdoor lighting. Some plants in the landscaping may be poisonous, and so may mushrooms that sprout up unbidden. Common yard chemicals may also be extremely toxic. Every year dogs die from eating snail bait, even though nontoxic options are available. Dogs may even chew on wooden fences, possibly giving themselves splinters or an unplanned escape route. Does this mean a dog can never be outdoors unaccompanied? Of course not. The important thing is to provide a transition period so the puppy can learn acceptable outdoor behavior. The first thing you must do is to remove all real hazards. Once the environment is safe, you can carefully watch as the puppy explores. You should hang back, coming only as far as needed to watch the puppy. If possible, you can even watch the puppy through a window if it provides a good view and if the owner can get into the yard quickly. If you need to correct the puppy’s behavior in any way, you can be right there in a moment. If the puppy has already had some lessons in coming when called, you could try calling the puppy away from bad chewing choices, giving the puppy a reward if it comes. If the puppy doesn’t come, you must immediately go to him/her. Never stand in a window or doorway and continue to call to a dog that’s not responding! If the dog doesn’t come, you should go and get it. To discourage a puppy from chewing on unacceptable things outdoors, make sure you have plenty of approved chewing objects in the yard. In fact, you can take some of the indoor objects outdoors because the puppy already has the idea that these toys are for chewing. A dog that has learned how to behave outdoors can pass the time by watching what’s going on in the neighborhood while its family is away. Being outside is far more entertaining than being locked in a crate.
In response to puppies’ need to chew, companies have produced a bewildering variety of choices. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the variety. You and along with many other people may have differences of opinion on the topic of chewing. The following paragraphs describe several different types of chews available along with some suggestions and cautions.
Knuckle bones: which are available from butchers and some pet suppliers, are real beef bones. Some pet suppliers offer them in a variety of flavors. They’ve been the hard chew of choice for many years due to being large and unlikely to splinter in the dog’s mouth. Dogs seldom break knuckle bones, so they don’t actually ingest much of them. Few contamination problems if any have been reported due to bacteria from the bone. Dogs do occasionally break teeth while chewing knuckle bones, as they do while chewing any hard object.
Pigs’ ears: This dog treat is actually made from real pigs’ ears. Recalls for salmonella have occurred regularly since they were first introduced. Caution: Be sure to wash your hands carefully after handling pigs’ ears.
Synthetic bones: provide an alternative to rawhide. Nylabones were one of the earliest synthetic bones produced. In the manufacturing process, natural meat flavors are incorporated right into the nylon. Nylabones last a long time and satisfy dogs’ chewing cravings. Some owners, however, object to giving an oil-based product to their dogs, and others have reported problems with splintering. In response to the criticism, Nylabone developed Carrot-Bones and other vegetable-based bones. These chews are good hard crunchy products made of natural ingredients. They last a reasonably long time and are low in calories. Owners may have to tryout different flavors to find out which ones their dogs like.
Deer antlers: a long lastly, natural chew option.
Dentabones: manufactured by Pedigree, are a combination hard chew and tooth-cleaning device. Their abrasive texture and unusual shape help to clean a dog’s teeth as it chews. Dentabones do a good job of scraping tartar from teeth. They don’t last that long with large aggressive chewers, but they provide an attractive alternative to other chews.
Besides the variety of hard chews, dog owners will find an enormous selection of different types of dog toys that amuse, stimulate, satisfy chewing urges, and even dispense treats. Most toys are meant to be played with under supervision. For example, most dogs can quickly disassemble rubber or plush squeaky toys, which may contain small parts that the dog could swallow. Some toys can be left with a dog while it’s alone. For example, knotted rope toys are good for occupying a dog’s time – if the dog shows interest in them. As an added bonus, you can tie a hard chew into the middle of the rope toy. For years, trainers have been advising dog owners to put food into a toy called a Kong to occupy a dog’s time. The Kong is hollow and can withstand a great deal of chewing. By filling it with some of the dog’s kibble (dry food) and something sticky, such as peanut butter or cheese spread, owners can provide a treat that dogs have to work for. Many manufacturers have developed all sorts of devices similar to the Kong, specifically for slowly dispensing treats. One of the first, and still one of the most effective, is the Buster Cube. The dog must flip the cube around to get some pieces to fall out. It’s your job as a trainer to instruct clients in the differences between various chews and toys. Then it’s up to the owners to choose the correct chew for their dog. Whichever you choose, toys can occupy a dog’s time when they’re not otherwise entertained. To get a puppy or dog interested in a toy, make the toy move-roll it, drag it, or make it move any other appropriate way.