You know how you can tell whether a dog’s a puppy? Look to see whether she’s chewing. A pup’s razor-sharp teeth will chew your fingers, your shoes, your furniture, your windowsills, your door frames and your bedspread. You can help or hurt the situation by your actions.
Do Give Chew Substitutes
You know the old saying, “If you can’t beat 'em, join 'em.” Well, you cannot stop a puppy from chewing, so it’s best that you don’t even try. Instead, redirect. Puppy has your pantyhose? Offer her a chew toy. Get her a small rubber ball, a nylon bone, a puzzle toy that you can fill with treats or a knotted rope. Oh, and keep your pantyhose or anything else you don’t want Chomper to have out of reach.
Do Use Deterrent Spray
You can put deterrent spray on your furniture so your pup won’t want to chew it anymore, but don’t just spray and leave. See whether it works first. Some deterrents don’t work on some dogs; your dog might chew the table leg whether you put deterrent on or not. But if it does work, you probably need to reapply it after a while.
Do Exercise Your Pup
Sometimes puppies chew when they’re bored. Puppies, like children, have lots of energy they need to burn. You need to exercise your puppy daily by taking her on walks and playing with her. Teach her to play fetch or tug-of-war. Those games should tire her out—and involve biting in an allowable way.
Don't Punish After the Fact
Don’t punish your dog for chewing something earlier in the day. Say you come home to find gnaw marks around your dining room table leg. Dragging your dog to the offending marks and yelling “Bad” will not teach your dog anything, except maybe to fear you. You might think your puppy knows she did something bad because as soon as you come home she looks guilty. But what you’re really witnessing is a scared pooch. She is picking up the angry vibe you’re putting out. She likely doesn’t remember that an hour ago she chewed the table leg. You need to catch a dog in the act and say “No” immediately. Any later than that, and you’re too late.
Don't Yell or Hit
If you catch your dog chewing the remote control or something else equally wrong, to use a common catchphrase, just say no. Don’t yell at your puppy or, even worse, hit her. You will only teach her to fear you. Say, “No” in a low, stern voice, and then give her a substitute that she can chew.
Don't Let Her Chew on You
Don’t let your puppy chew on you under any circumstances. Some people think this is cute, but when your puppy grows up, it won’t be so cute anymore. Plus, a dog who's allowed to use your hand or foot as a chew toy doesn’t see you as a pack leader, according to Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. Don’t give your dog affection until you have exercised her and had her obey a command. When you greet her right away with affection, your dog will tend to become excited, and an excited pup is a mouthy one.
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.