Puppies love to chew and it is a natural activity for them. A puppy uses his jaws and mouth in the same way we use our hands - to grab and investigate. Chewing is natural behaviour for a dog. A puppy's adult teeth are erupting from four to seven months and chewing helps the new teeth to emerge.
A puppy thinks his whole world is filled with chewable toys. He doesn't understand the difference between his rubber bone and your favourite slipper or dining room chair. Puppy proof your home. Move anything that he shouldn't chew out of his reach. Pick up your socks, underwear, magazines and shoes. Do your best to prevent your puppy making mistakes by ensuring that he doesn't have access to things he shouldn't chew.
Make sure there are a variety of things that he is allowed to chew. He should have lots of his own toys - soft toys, rope toys, rubber toys, old socks and old shoes. Rubber toys and Nylabones are good when he really needs a good chew. Other toys that can be happily destroyed are soft drink bottles, ice cream containers and cardboard boxes. Make sure he isn't swallowing pieces of the plastic and remove these toys when they are damaged.
You can't stop a puppy from chewing. Encourage your puppy to play with and chew acceptable toys. Find out what he likes to chew and give him lots of this type of toy. When you see your dog chewing on something acceptable, praise him! Let him know you approve of what he's doing. Don't take good behaviour for granted.
Interrupt him when he is chewing something he shouldn't by offering him one of his own toys in exchange. Quietly remove the other item. There is no need to scold him for chewing the wrong thing. Don't make the mistake of chasing him around the house. "Keepings Off" is a very fun game for a puppy to play! Don't try to grab or snatch the object because he will only hang on all the harder. If he will not leave the original item, find one of his favourite toys. Toss it in the air and catch it. Talk to it and make out it is the most fantastic toy in the world. When he comes to investigate reward him by playing a special game with him and his toy. You must always reward his good behaviour.
Supervise your dog. Use doors and baby gates to keep him in the room you are in. Your puppy can't chew something he shouldn't if he is being supervised.
Larger objects can be given a smear of Vicks Vaporub to discourage chewing. It tastes and smells awful to a dog. Test it first to make sure that it will not damage the item. This also works wonderfully on outdoor sprinkler systems and hose fittings. It needs to be reapplied but is waterproof and will not wash off in the first rain.
© Fernamber Golden Retrievers 2002-2008