Have you heard the countless stories of people coming home to find their puppy has been destructive and chewed up their newest pair of shoes? Or chewed right through the cord of your latest laptop. How about a chunk of wood out of the leg of your antique chair? And then, of course, where your puppy suddenly decides your ankles or toe is his newest toy, and anyone’s ankles or toes are fair game.
*Disclaimer: The overall training process should be done by people who know what they are doing. If you want to train your puppy on your own, you should be well informed before you begin. The following online program will teach you a ton of useful methods, and we highly recommend it. It’s the training method we use for our own puppies as well.
In case you are interested, this is the puppy training program we use in puppies4all as well. Thanks!
12 Reasons for biting or chewing
First of all, you need to understand that chewing, for dogs of all ages, is a natural instinct. It starts out when they are still puppies and, if left unchecked, has the potential to become a lifelong habit. But by and large, dogs tend to chew and bite for a number of reasons.
- Natural Instinct
It is natural for small puppies to bite. When they play with each other, part of their play is ‘mouthing’, where they mock-bite or attack each other. This is practice for killing their prey when they are in the wild. The problem is, however, they are not wild animals. Puppies also use their mouths to explore, biting or tasting everything around them. It is a sort of ‘getting to know things’ behavior.
When a puppy is about two months old, their first set of teeth starts pushing out of their gums. These are milk teeth, much like in human’s baby. Also, much like in human babies, it hurts and it itches. At around four months, however, the adult teeth grow, replacing the baby teeth. If you thought the baby teeth were a problem, watch out! Those adult teeth have the potential of causing a lot of damage! Of course, puppies, if there are no suitable chewy toys around, might start chewing on anything that looks interesting. This includes shoes, ankles, toes, the rug, furniture…
Just like human children, puppies get bored if not mentally stimulated. A single chewy toy only gives so much stimulation. Then he gets bored. When he gets bored, watch out! Anything that looks interesting enough, or smells interesting enough, is fair game! Watch out ankles! Those sharp teeth hurt!
Attack is the most natural form of defense. A dog or puppy is no different. If you pooch finds himself in a situation where he feels threatened, the chances are good he is going to bare those teeth and bite.
Think about the following… You brought a puppy home. It was scared as it had left its mother and is in new surroundings. You give him the attention he needs, showering him with love. A strong bond develops. Suddenly, you leave for a few hours. He becomes anxious and scared. Is he going to be left alone forever? Where is his new mommy or daddy? Where are his new playmates? This is a scary situation for a puppy or even adult dog.
The most common ways separation anxiety shows itself in a pet, is defecation, digging, barking, howling, and yes, biting things and chewing up rugs and stuff.
In nature, dogs need strong jaw muscles to kill their prey and protect themselves. Many times the chewing or biting habit is due to your puppy exercising those muscles.
Wait.. there are more! But how cute is that, uh?
Dogs cannot brush their teeth like humans do. Of course, you could brush your puppy’s teeth. If you decided to do so, start while he is still very young.
On the whole, dogs chew in order to clean their teeth and keep them strong.
- Practice makes perfect
Descendent from wolves, puppies have a natural hunting instinct . They will pounce on and chew anything they see as fair game in an effort to practice their hunting skills. Once more, beware those toes and ankles!
Your dog may be hungry and finding out if something tastes good. On the other hand, it could be a case of it smells so good, let me take a bite and see if my nose is telling me the truth!
- Medical Reasons
Sometimes a puppy is suffering from a nutritional deficiency. In other words, he is not getting the necessary vitamins and minerals he needs from his food. He might start chewing and possibly swallowing whatever he can find in order to vomit so that he will feel better.
- It is an Obsession
For some unknown reasons, certain puppies develop an obsession with chewing. Why? nobody knows! That’s why it’s called an obsession!
- Dominance play
Sometimes a puppy will nip at you in order to show he is the dominant one. This is a definite no-no. Never allow your dog to rule your home. Ever! It is totally unacceptable behavior.
Identify the reason or the behavior
We have taken a look at why dogs chew. Before you can find a solution to your particular pet’s problem, you first need to identify the reason for his chewing tendencies. Work through the list provided, and then address the problem from there.
How to train your puppy to stop biting and chewing
If your puppy is in the habit of chewing everything in sight or nipping your ankles or toes, there are a few things you can do about it. Of course, you need to first identify the problem before taking appropriate action! If you suspect it is his diet, take him to your veterinarian so that a more appropriate diet is devised.
A few tips to stop the habit follow:
Play with your puppy! Stimulate him both mentally and physically. This can be in the form of a rough and tumble game, encouraging him to fetch a ball, or playing peek-a-boo. A tired puppy is less likely to get into all kinds of mischief!
Play with your puppy until he nips you. Yes, those teeth may be sharp, but you most probably won’t have to do this exercise too often.
So once your puppy has given you a nip, give a loud, piercing yelp, much like he would make when hurt. Then, stand up, and ignore him. After a few rounds of this, he will soon learn the fun stops the moment those sharp little teeth bites into mommy or daddy’s flesh.
Something the ‘old people’ did was to give a sharpish (not too hard) bite back on the puppy’s ear. Just saying!
- An abundance of toys
While teething, give you puppy lots of toys to choose from. Those with a chewy texture are you best bet. If they make squeaky noises, even better. Make sure they do not have parts that can come off. He would most likely swallow them and you might end up at the veterinarian’s office. Bits that are chewed off can also get lodged in your puppy’s throat and he can choke. Rather be safe than sorry! Of course, the squeaky toys are the first that are chewed up and their incessant noise can drive anyone insane!
- Assert your dominance
Socialization is very important with puppies. It allows him to learn his place in the pack order. As the dominant person, you need to firmly step up and take that position. Besides getting to know everyone in the household and his place in it, the idea that you are the master needs reinforcing. Do so gently and kindly. Never go in for any form of harsh treatment. It creates a fearful dog that ends up scared of his own shadow.
- Tackle the teething problems
Teething, in puppies, is as difficult as it is for babies. A great way of helping your puppy through this period is by freezing a wet cloth. Give him this to chew on once frozen. Not only is it safe for him to chew on, but the cold of the freezer numbs those aching gums as well!
- Make it smell and taste bad
All dogs, puppies included, have a very good sense of smell. Their noses are extremely sensitive. They also do not like things that taste bad. By spraying or smearing certain commercially available deterrents on the items they love to chew on, but which they should leave alone, you rid yourself of the problem.
Keep in mind, however, that some dogs and puppies are obstinate. They will chew on whatever they lay their paws on. Sometimes you need to change the product your spray or smear onto those items until you find something that tastes or smells bad enough to keep them away.
If he has picked up and chewed on something he should not have, make a game out of it. Tell him to ‘give’ or ‘drop’ the item and reward him with a treat he loves.
The do nots!
We have looked at the reasons puppies chew or bite and we have looked at what to do to stop the problem. There are, however, a number of things you should not do.
- Do not chase your puppy in order to get the item. It ends up a game. Offer a reward instead.
- Never hit or be harsh with your puppy. It creates a fearful dog. Praise him when he gets it right.
- Do not put him outside. He will only get worse as any attention is better than no attention.
- Never leave him alone for long periods. If you are away from home for an extended period of time during the day and he is alone, consider getting your pet a friend.
They are only human, after all
Puppies, much like human babies, thrive on love and attention. Just like human children, they get up to all kinds of mischief. Do not see this as deliberate. They are learning new things every day.
Just as with children, though, they need a certain amount of training and discipline in order to learn what is wrong and what is right.
Patience is the key element needed in bringing up a healthy, loving, well-adjusted member of the family – exactly the same as with children.
Before you go, take a look at this related video :