Preventing Puppies From Biting & Chewing
Written by Dr. Laurie Green
Puppies naturally explore the world with their mouths. The tastes and textures of objects in their environment help them to learn about their world. They spend several months shedding their baby teeth and growing in their adult teeth, which also stimulates them to chew. It is normal for them to chew. What they must learn is what is appropriate for them to chew on. Here are some pointers on preventing your puppy's biting and chewing.
The most important learning period for puppies is 4 to 16 weeks of age. From birth to approximately 8 weeks of age, a puppy is mostly learning from her mother and litter mates. The pup should also have generous amounts of gentle human handling during this time to prepare her for her new home.
Around 8 weeks of age, most pups are separated from their litter and sent to their new homes. The next 8 weeks are critical for pups to learn how to interact with their new families and environments.
A new pup should not have free rein of the house at first. Keep him mostly in a smaller, easily cleaned room, such as a kitchen. Provide him with acceptable chew toys, many of which are available at pet stores or veterinary clinics. Do not give him discarded shoes or clothing, as he will not be able to differentiate between old and new clothing. Never strike or yell at your pup. You will only frighten him. Gently discourage unwanted behavior and reward good behavior verbally and with food treats.
When approaching or playing with your pup, or during training sessions, keep your hand closed in a fist so that your fingers are not available for chewing. It is much harder for her to chew on your fist, and it makes a less interesting toy for her. If the pup tries to chew on your hand, remove it from her, even put it behind your back, and promptly give her a more appropriate toy to chew on. Be sure to immediately redirect to what is okay for her to chew on
Make sure that your puppy, and your adult dog, get plenty of exercise. A growing puppy or adult dog that has too little exercise will start looking for something to do, which frequently includes inappropriate chewing and destruction. Dogs are complex, social animals that need a job to do; that job includes vigorous daily exercise.