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Why Puppies Chew

There are four main reasons why puppies chew:

  1. To explore the world. Puppies don’t have hands to use for picking things up, so they naturally explore the world with their mouths.

  2. Dogs have evolved as omnivores with teeth designed for tearing prey animals’ flesh and cracking open bones to access marrow. Chewing is instinctual for them.

  3. To relieve pain and discomfort caused by the growth of their sharp teeth. This phase is commonly known as teething, similar to human babies. Chewing helps alleviate the discomfort.

  4. Boredom, in my opinion, is a significant factor. Chewing provides puppies with an engaging activity when they’re looking for something to do.

While there may be other reasons for chewing, in most cases, when addressing a chewing problem, it typically relates to one of these four factors. Sometimes, these reasons can overlap; boredom can lead to exploratory chewing, and a lack of entertainment may exacerbate teething discomfort. Identifying why your puppy is chewing on things will help you find the best ways to address and curb this behavior. Below, we’ll discuss some simple steps you can take to prevent excessive chewing.

Where to Start?

Some people might expect a puppy to “know better,” but it’s important to understand that puppies go through a normal stage of development, including chewing and teething, much like toddlers touch and put things in their mouths. Instead of constantly scolding your puppy, it’s often more effective to puppy-proof your home. Just as parents baby-proof their homes for the safety of their toddlers, you should puppy-proof your space to protect your belongings and keep your puppy safe.

Keep items like shoes and other chewable objects out of your puppy’s reach. This not only prevents your belongings from being chewed but also ensures that your puppy doesn’t learn that chewing on these items is enjoyable. Once your puppy outgrows the teething and chewing stage, you can leave your belongings around without worry. So, if it’s something your puppy can get its paws on, put it away. This will save you from the frustration of lost items and keeps your puppy safe.

Alright, I’ve puppy-proofed my space. What else should I be doing?

Make sure you have plenty of toys or items that your dog can safely chew on. Chewing is a vital part of a puppy’s life, so provide items that are appropriate for them to chew. Puppies may have specific preferences for texture or material, so it’s a good idea to offer a variety of chew toys. Once you know what your puppy prefers, you can get more of those items to keep them entertained and provide alternatives when they get their paws on something they shouldn’t.

But what’s safe to give my puppy to chew on? This is a common question, and the reality is that, depending on your puppy’s jaw strength and determination, no chew item is entirely safe. Your job is to find items that your puppy enjoys but cannot easily destroy or ingest in an unsafe manner. Always supervise your puppy when it’s chewing on new items, as you won’t know how they will attempt to destroy them.

Don’t assume an item is safe until you understand how your puppy interacts with it. Some puppies may chew items just to destroy them, while others may swallow parts, leading to potential health risks like intestinal obstructions or perforations. If your puppy tends to swallow items, remove any toys that pose a risk immediately.

If an item can’t be left with your puppy safely for even a few minutes, it’s probably not suitable for them at all. The same applies to items that are small enough to be swallowed whole. Also, keep an eye on edible chews, as they can become a choking hazard when they get too small. Consider using holders for items like bully sticks, as they can help prevent choking. You can find information about bully stick holders and other safe chew options in this article.

Apart from buying safe chews and chew toys, what else can you do?

One of the best ways to address chewing behavior is to engage with and train your puppy. Boredom is a common trigger for chewing, and the amount of attention and exercise your puppy needs can vary depending on its breed, temperament, and age. Providing sufficient exercise and mental stimulation for your puppy is crucial for their well-being.

Activities such as playing with toys, going for light walks, and swimming are excellent ways to physically tire your puppy. However, mental stimulation is equally, if not more, important. Much like how you can feel exhausted after a day of mental work, puppies and dogs also need mental challenges to stay entertained and tired out.

Training your puppy is an effective way to stimulate their mind and instill good behavior. Short 5- to 10-minute training sessions throughout the day can teach your puppy desired behaviors and tire them out mentally. Puzzle toys are another option to keep your puppy engaged with minimal supervision. Here’s an article that can help you start shopping for puzzle toys. With the right puzzle toys, you can cater to your puppy’s preferences and difficulty level.

If you need more assistance with stopping your puppy from chewing, consider scheduling a New Puppy Get Started Consult with us. We’re here to help you and your puppy thrive.

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