How Can You Prevent Chewing Damage by a Teething Puppy in a Home Environment?

When you bring a new puppy into your home, you’re signing up for all the joys and challenges that come with it. One of the challenges you’ll probably encounter, especially during the teething phase, is destructive chewing. Your puppy will be inclined to chew on almost anything in sight, from furniture to shoes, and even your hands. This behavior is not only damaging to your household items but can also pose a risk to the puppy’s health.

Understanding Why Puppies Chew

Before you can effectively address the issue of chewing, it’s crucial to understand why puppies chew in the first place. Chewing is a normal part of puppyhood, driven by various factors, including teething, curiosity, and anxiety.

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When puppies are teething, they experience discomfort as their baby teeth fall out and adult teeth come in. Chewing provides relief from this discomfort. It’s also a way for them to explore their surroundings and learn about the world. However, some puppies may chew out of anxiety, especially when left alone for extended periods.

Choosing the Right Chew Toys for Your Puppy

One of the most effective ways to prevent destructive chewing is to provide your puppy with chew toys. However, it’s essential to choose the right ones. Not all chew toys are created equal, and some may even pose a risk to your pet’s health.

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Look for toys that are designed specifically for teething puppies. These toys are usually made of soft rubber and have textured surfaces to massage the puppy’s gums and soothe teething discomfort.

Moreover, the size of the toy is crucial. The toy should be large enough that your puppy can’t swallow it, but small enough for them to comfortably hold and chew.

You should also consider your puppy’s preference. Some dogs prefer chew toys that have a squeaker, while others prefer ones that can be filled with food. If your puppy seems uninterested in a toy, don’t force them to use it. Try different types and textures until you find ones that your puppy likes.

Using Food to Distract Your Puppy

Food can be a powerful distraction for a teething puppy. You can stuff chew toys with puppy-safe food to make them more appealing. This will not only keep your puppy occupied but also provide mental stimulation.

You can also freeze puppy-friendly foods like peanut butter or yogurt and give them to your puppy to chew. The cold food will help numb the puppy’s gums, providing relief from teething discomfort.

However, always supervise your puppy while they’re eating to prevent choking, and remember that treats should make up no more than 10% of your puppy’s daily caloric intake.

Training Your Puppy Not to Chew

While providing chew toys and food distractions can help, they’re not complete solutions. It’s crucial to also train your puppy not to chew on inappropriate items.

When you catch your puppy chewing on something they shouldn’t, don’t scold them. Instead, remove the item and replace it with an appropriate chew toy. This will help your puppy understand what they’re allowed to chew on.

It’s also helpful to puppy-proof your home by removing items that your puppy is likely to chew. This includes shoes, children’s toys, and small items that your puppy could swallow.

Helping Your Puppy Deal with Anxiety

If your puppy’s chewing is driven by anxiety, it’s crucial to address this root cause. Encourage your puppy to feel safe and secure in your home by providing a calm, structured environment.

You can also work to prevent separation anxiety by gradually increasing the amount of time you leave your puppy alone. Start with just a few minutes at a time, gradually building up to longer periods.

Remember, the key to preventing destructive chewing is to understand your puppy’s needs and meet them in a safe, appropriate way. Patience, understanding, and consistency will go a long way in helping your puppy navigate this phase of their life.

Introducing Deterrents for Destructive Chewing

Deterrents can play a significant role in managing destructive chewing in puppies. These are products that can be applied to household items to discourage your puppy from chewing them. They generally have a taste or smell that dogs find unpleasant, making the object less attractive to chew on.

Before using a deterrent, test it on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it doesn’t damage the material. Once confirmed safe, apply it to the items your puppy often targets. For instance, if your puppy loves nibbling on your wooden furniture, apply the deterrent to the corners and legs of the tables and chairs.

Dog deterrents are readily available in pet stores or online, and they come in various types, including sprays, gels, and granules. When choosing a deterrent, make sure it’s pet-safe and non-toxic. Some deterrents are made with natural ingredients like bitter apple or citrus, which are typically safe for both dogs and cats.

While deterrents can be effective, they should not be the sole solution to your puppy’s chewing problem. Always pair the use of deterrents with positive reinforcement training techniques. When your puppy chooses to chew on their toys instead of the furniture, reward them with praise or a small treat. This will help enforce good behavior and make the training process more successful.

Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Just like humans, dogs can get bored. When they do, they look for ways to entertain themselves, and quite often, this involves chewing. Providing regular exercise and mental stimulation for your puppy can help prevent destructive chewing by keeping them occupied and satisfied.

Puppies, especially active breeds, require plenty of physical exercise. Daily walks, play sessions, and dog sports are excellent ways to burn off your puppy’s energy. It’s also a great opportunity for you and your puppy to bond. By fulfilling your puppy’s physical needs, you’re reducing their likelihood of resorting to chewing as a form of entertainment.

Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise. Stimulating your puppy’s mind will help keep them mentally tired and less likely to seek out destructive behavior. Brain games, puzzle toys, and training sessions are all excellent ways to provide mental stimulation. These activities not only keep your puppy’s mind engaged but also help them develop problem-solving skills.

Conclusion

Dealing with a teething puppy can be challenging, but remember that your furry friend is not intentionally trying to destroy your home. They’re simply trying to soothe their discomfort or entertain themselves. Understanding why dogs chew and taking steps to address these needs with chew toys, distractions, training, deterrents, and mental stimulation can significantly reduce instances of destructive chewing.

However, remember that every dog is unique. What works for one puppy might not work for another. You may need to try different techniques and have patience as you figure out what works best for your puppy. And always keep in mind that your puppy is learning and growing, and this teething process is just a phase that will pass with time.

Above all, ensure that your puppy feels loved and secured. A happy, well-cared-for puppy is less likely to resort to destructive behaviors. Your understanding, patience, and consistent approach can make this challenging phase a lot easier for both of you.