By Dr. Jiyaul Haque
It’s a common sight in most homes with pets exploring, chewing, and tearing on endless list of stuff like shoes, sofa cushions, pillows, gadgets, and appliances. It is normal for puppies to be mouthie as it is their way of exploring new things. Puppies normally get to know their surroundings by sniffing, tasting & chewing on objects. Your puppy needs ample opportunity to explore new things and a regular routine, which includes social interactions, playing, training, and exercise. Puppies that are prone to chewing and destruction can cause their owner considerable distress.
Reasons for Chewing Behaviour
- Separation anxiety: Puppy could get anxious when separated from its owner.
- Insecurity: Puppy gets anxious and stressed when left alone at home.
- Fear (sounds etc. inside the house): Any unfamiliar, loud, and strange noise can make a puppy anxious and stressed.
- Attention seeking destruction: If a pup feels he is left alone and isn’t getting much attention from its parent, it would try to get their attention by destroying the house.
- Boredom: Sometimes if a puppy is left alone and has nothing in particular to occupy his mind, he chews on its favourite surface in order to alleviate the boredom.
- Limited social interaction: Pups with limited opportunity for social interaction, playtime or exercise may chew as a way to keep themselves occupied.
As the puppy matures, this desire decreases and they are less likely to be destructive.
Addressing the Chewing Behaviour
The first step in treating chewing behaviour is to identify the underlying motivation. Young dogs and puppies that chew inappropriate items may be engaging in play and exploration. Dogs that chew at windows, doors, or their crates may be anxious about confinement or being left alone at home, or they may be reacting to outdoor stimuli.
Begin addressing the issue by redirecting chewing to suitable and appealing alternatives, providing them sufficient time to play and exercise, and preventing access to previously chewed items. Below are a few suggestions that could be helpful in correcting the behaviour.
- Provide chew toys that do not resemble in appearance or texture to unacceptable chew items. You could try plastic, nylon, rubber toys or bones that cannot be ingested. Chews that promote good dental hygiene are another good choice.
- Supervise puppies at all times to prevent chewing on inappropriate objects and always encourage them to use the toys provided. If supervision is not possible, prevent access to any chewable object or area where chewing may occur.
- Exercise and play with your dog regularly to alleviate excess energy and provide positive interaction.
- Reward the dog with attention and praise for chewing appropriate items. When your puppy does any inappropriate behaviour, stop it immediately by telling the pup “No”. Act early before bad habits become established. Consistency is the key with puppies. When your pup stops the bad behaviour make sure you reward the pup with “GOOD (puppy’s name)!”
- Puppies want to make their owners happy and you need to help them by your voice tone when they are being good. Praise your puppy for all the right behaviours. A dog should be reprimanded for chewing only if it is caught in the act. All reprimands must be immediate and controlled.
- Avoid physical punishment. It can lead to fear and defensive reactions in some dogs, or may serve as a form of attention and reinforcement in others.
- Try putting pungent substance on unacceptable chew items to discourage the pup from chewing it.
Puppy Proofing Your Home
Things you may consider harmless household items can be deadly to your puppy. He may tug or chew anything he finds including plants and electrical cords.
- Candles, coins, and similar small objects can also be lethal and could cause choking.
- Put away all hazardous items like medicines, poisonous plants, detergents, and cleaning agents, where your puppy can reach easily. Even chocolates are toxic for pets.
- Make sure that all doors are shut securely and that your puppy will not be able to squeeze through or under your door.
As Puppies grow, they will learn that not every item in the house is for playing and that some things are just not safe. In the meantime, do everything you can to ensure your puppy has a safe environment to grow up in. A well-trained puppy is one less thing to worry about. Take a little time training your pup, and you’ll never regret it; you’ll always have an obedient companion by your side.